Check if you can become a British citizen

There are different ways to apply for British citizenship based on your circumstances.

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

If you moved to the UK

You may be able to apply for citizenship by ‘naturalisation’, depending on your situation.

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

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 one of the following:

  • indefinite leave to remain
  • settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
  • a permanent residence document to confirm you have permanent residence status

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

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.

You have ‘permanent residence’ status

If you or a family member are from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you usually get permanent residence status automatically after living in the UK for 5 years.

To apply for citizenship with permanent residence status you must usually have lived in the UK for 12 months after getting permanent residence status. You also need a permanent residence document that proves you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years - this can be any 5 year period.

This means that if the 5 year period was more than 12 months ago, you’ll be able to apply for citizenship as soon as you get your permanent residence document.

You have ‘settled status’ under the EU Settlement Scheme

If you and your family member are from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you can apply for ‘settled status’ after you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years.

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

Settled status is also known as ‘indefinite leave to remain under the EU Settlement Scheme’.

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.