Check if you can become a British citizen

There are different ways to apply for British citizenship (or ‘naturalisation’) based on your circumstances.

If you’re eligible in more than one way you can choose which way to apply.

It might take longer than usual to process applications because of coronavirus (COVID-19). This will not affect the decision. Extra time will be allowed to enrol biometrics, provide additional information and arrange a citizenship ceremony. Do not apply by post if you’ll need your documents back by a specific date.

If you’ve applied for citizenship, you’ll need permission to stay in the UK until you’re granted citizenship. Your permission needs to last until you have had your citizenship ceremony.

If you have indefinite leave to remain (ILR) or settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, this counts as permission to stay.

The deadline to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme for most people was 30 June 2021. If you did not apply to the EU Settlement Scheme by the deadline, you might still be able to apply.

If you were born in the UK

You do not automatically get British citizenship if you were born in the UK. It depends on when you were born and your parents’ circumstances. You need to check if you’re a British citizen.

You may be eligible to apply for citizenship if you were born in the UK and are not automatically a British citizen.

If you’re married to or in a civil partnership with a British citizen

To apply as the spouse or civil partner of a British citizen you must have lived in the UK for the last 3 years.

You’ll also need to have either:

  • indefinite leave to remain (ILR)
  • settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme

If you do, you’ll be eligible to apply for citizenship immediately.

If you have indefinite leave to remain (ILR)

You can usually apply for ILR after you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years.

To apply for citizenship with ILR you must usually have lived in the UK for 12 months after getting it.

If you have ‘settled status’ under the EU Settlement Scheme

To apply for citizenship with settled status you must usually have lived in the UK for 12 months after getting it.

If you had permanent residence status before you got settled status

You can no longer apply for citizenship based on your permanent residence status.

If you had permanent residence status, you can count the time that you had it towards the 12 months you need to wait before applying for citizenship with your settled status.

Example
You came to the UK in 2013 and gained permanent residence status in 2018. In April 2021, you got settled status.

Usually, you would need to wait 12 months after getting settled status to apply for citizenship - but because you had permanent residence status for 3 years already, you can apply straightaway.

If you have ‘permanent residence’ status

You can no longer apply for British citizenship with ‘permanent residence’ status.

You might still be able to apply for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, if you have not already. You can then use this to apply for citizenship.

The deadline to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme for most people was 30 June 2021. You can still apply if you have ‘reasonable grounds’ for not being able to apply by the deadline.

Other ways you can be eligible

You may be eligible to apply for citizenship if:

If you’re a Commonwealth citizen

You may be eligible to apply for citizenship under the Windrush Scheme if both:

  • you or one of your parents arrived in the UK before 1973
  • you’ve lived in the UK and not been away from it for more than 2 years

If your parent arrived in the UK before 1973, you must have either:

  • been born in the UK
  • arrived in the UK before you were 18

Some Commonwealth citizens have ‘right of abode’ in the UK. This means you can live or work in the UK without immigration restrictions. Check if you can apply to prove you have right of abode in the UK.