1. Check if you can apply

There are different ways to become a British citizen. The most common is called ‘naturalisation’.

You can apply for British citizenship by naturalisation if:

  • you’re 18 or over
  • you’re of sound mind
  • you’re of good character
  • you’ll continue to live in the UK
  • you have met the knowledge of English and life in the UK requirements

You must usually also have:

  • lived in the UK for at least the 5 years before the date of your application
  • spent no more than 450 days outside the UK during those 5 years
  • spent no more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months
  • been granted indefinite leave to stay in the UK, ie there’s no specific date that you have to leave
  • had indefinite leave to stay in the UK for the last 12 months
  • not broken any immigration laws while in the UK

There are different requirements if your spouse or civil partner is a British citizen.

You can’t include any time spent in the UK when you’re exempt from immigration control (eg as a diplomat or member of visiting armed forces) as part of the 5 years.

Read the full guidance notes and the requirements booklet before applying.

You may be able to apply to become a British citizen by ‘registration’ in certain circumstances.

Children under 18

You can apply on behalf of a child under 18 if they meet the eligibility criteria. They don’t have to pass the Life in the UK Test.

Read more about citizenship for children under 18 in Guide MN1.


Read about the different fees for citizenship applications.

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