Guidance

Prove your English language abilities with a secure English language test (SELT)

For visa or citizenship applications, you may need to prove your knowledge of English by passing a secure English language test (SELT).

Applications that require an English language test

There are 2 types of test as different immigration routes require different levels of English language ability. The test you will need to take depends on what you are applying for.

For the following application routes, you will need to take a test that assesses your reading, writing, speaking and listening abilities:

  • Innovator
  • Start-up
  • Tier 2 (General)
  • Tier 2 (Minister of Religion)
  • Tier 4 (General)

For the following application routes, you will need to take a test that assesses your speaking and listening abilities:

  • Tier 2 (Sportsperson)
  • Representative of an Overseas Business
  • partner
  • parent
  • settlement (also known as indefinite leave to remain)
  • citizenship

The level of test you will need, known as the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) level, will depend on the route you are applying for. To find out which level you need, see the specific guidance for your immigration route.

Approved test providers and approved tests

You can only take an SELT with one of the following providers:

  • IELTS SELT Consortium (UK or overseas)
  • LanguageCert (UK or overseas)
  • Trinity College London (UK only)
  • Pearson (UK and overseas)

The approved IELTS SELT Consortium tests are:

  • IELTS for UKVI
  • Life Skills

The approved LanguageCert tests are:

  • LanguageCert International ESOL SELT
  • LanguageCert International ESOL SELT (Speaking and Listening)

The approved Trinity College London tests are:

  • Integrated Skills in English (ISE)
  • Graded Examinations in Spoken English (GESE)

The approved Pearson tests are:

  • Pearson PTE Academic UKVI
  • Pearson PTE Home

It is for you to decide which test to take.

Find an approved test

For your results to be accepted, your test must:

  • be on the list of approved English language tests
  • have been sat at an approved test location

The list of approved English language tests has been assessed as meeting Home Office requirements under the secure English language testing arrangements. Only those tests and test levels specified are approved. If you intend to use an English language test in your immigration or nationality application, you must take one of the tests on the list.

The list of approved tests gives the CEFR level and minimum grade requirements for each level.

Where 2 or more components (reading, writing, speaking and listening) of a test are examined and awarded together, for example a combined exam and certificate for reading and writing skills, you must show that you achieved the required scores in all the relevant components during a single sitting of that examination, unless you were exempt from sitting a component on the basis of a disability.

List of approved secure English language tests taken in the UK

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List of approved secure English language tests taken outside the UK

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Approved secure English language test centres

The list of approved test centres has been assessed as meeting Home Office requirements under the secure English language testing arrangements.

More test centres will be added to the list as the new approved provider services become available.

Check the SELT provider’s website to find out when tests are available and to make sure the test centre is open. Some test centres may be closed because of coronavirus. If you have any questions, use the website. Do not contact the test centre directly.

List of approved test centres in the UK from September 2020

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List of approved test centres outside the UK from September 2020

This file is in an OpenDocument format

This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology.

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Book an English language test

To find test dates and book your test, go to the website of the provider offering the test you plan to take:

You should make sure the test that you book is the one approved for SELT:

  • IELTS SELT Consortium: ‘IELTS for UKVI
  • LanguageCert: ‘LanguageCert International ESOL SELT
  • Trinity College London: ‘Secure English Language Tests for UKVI
  • Pearson: ‘PTE Academic UKVI’ or ‘PTE Home’

You should be able to take a test within 28 days of booking, but it may not always be at the location nearest to you. If there is not an approved test location in your country, you will have to travel to another country to take the test.

The details used to book your test must be the same as on your passport or other identity document. If your surname has changed, you will need to provide evidence of the change.

Prove your identity on the day of the test

You will need to provide evidence of your identity at the test location before you can take the test.

Your identity document must:

  • be current and valid
  • be an original, not a photocopy
  • include a photo of you
  • match the information you gave when you booked the test

If your identity document has a signature, this will also be checked.

The details used to book your test must match the document you provide at the test location. If you have changed your name, you must provide evidence of your previous name.

If you are not able to prove your identity, you will not be allowed to take a test.

Acceptable documents

You can use the following documents as identification for tests taken in the UK and outside the UK:

  • passport
  • Biometric Residence Permit
  • Biometric Residence Card
  • convention travel document
  • stateless persons travel document
  • travel document issued by the United Nations
  • travel document issued by the International Red Cross

You can use the following documents as identification for tests taken either in the UK or outside the UK in the country where the document is issued:

You can use the following documents as identification for tests taken outside the UK in the country where the document is issued:

  • valid photographic government issued identity cards

Emergency travel documents will not be accepted as proof of identity.

If you have changed your name from the one in your identity document, you must provide one of the following:

  • marriage certificate, with a certified English translation if necessary
  • UK spouse visa (within date) in a passport or a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
  • original deed poll change of name document

Your name must be on the document.

Contact the Home Office if you do not have a valid identity document.

If your passport is held by the Home Office and you do not have another valid identity document, you should contact the Home Office to request the return of your passport.

After the test

After you pass the test, you will be given an SELT unique reference number which you must use when making your application. If you do not include your reference number, your application may be refused.

You will find your SELT unique reference number on your test result as:

  • UER’ for Trinity College London tests
  • UKVI number’ for IELTS SELT Consortium tests
  • ‘Candidate URN’ for LanguageCert tests
  • SELT URN’ for Pearson tests

You do not need to submit any documents as part of the immigration or nationality application. Test results and scores are checked using the SELT online verification system provided by each approved SELT test provider using an SELT unique reference number.

If you took a test in the UK, you can use your result for UK and overseas applications. You can also use tests taken overseas for applications made in the UK.

Test results are valid for 2 years from the date the test is awarded.

Reasonable adjustments

You can make special requests when you book your test if, for example, you have a disability and need extra equipment or help accessing the test location.

Exemptions

You will not need to take an English language test if you:

  • currently have a Tier 4 (Child) student visa
  • have completed a course in the UK as a Tier 4 (Child) student – the course must have been at least 6 months long and have ended in the past 2 years
  • are from a majority English-speaking country
  • have previously completed a qualification equivalent to a UK degree in a majority English-speaking country

This list is not exhaustive. To find a full list of exceptions, see the specific guidance for your application route. You may not need to take another test if you have a test result at the same CEFR level that you used in an earlier application.

Published 11 September 2020
Last updated 21 September 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated lists of approved test centres for September 2020.

  2. First published.