Indefinite leave to remain if your partner dies

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Overview and fees

You may be eligible to apply for settlement (indefinite leave to remain in the UK) if your partner has died. Your partner must have either:

  • been a British citizen
  • had indefinite leave to remain in the UK
  • been from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and had pre-settled status

Indefinite leave to remain is how you settle in the UK. It’s also called ‘settlement’. It gives you the right to live, work and study here for as long as you like, and apply for benefits if you’re eligible. You can use it to apply for British citizenship.

Your permission to be in the UK must have been based on being their partner as part of a family visa. A ‘partner’ is one of the following:

  • your spouse (husband or wife)
  • your civil partner
  • someone you were living with in a relationship that’s like a marriage or civil partnership

When to apply

You can apply any time after your partner’s death. You do not have to wait until your current visa expires.

You must be in the UK when you apply.


The application fee is £2,404.

You also need to have your biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken - there’s no fee for this.

If family members are applying for settlement with you, they’ll each need to pay the application fee and have their biometric information taken.

If your application is approved

You can do the following:

  • work
  • run a business
  • study
  • use public services, such as healthcare and schools
  • apply for public funds (benefits) and pensions
  • apply for British citizenship, usually after a minimum of 12 months

If you stay outside of the UK for more than 2 years

You can lose your indefinite leave to remain if you stay outside the UK for more than 2 years at a time. You may need to apply before you can return to the UK.

  1. Step 1 Register the death

    1. Register the death within 5 days

    Check what to do if:

    To stop or change benefits payments you can tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) about the death straight away.

  2. Step 2 Arrange the funeral

  3. Step 3 Tell government about the death

    The Tell Us Once service allows you to inform all the relevant government departments when someone dies.

    1. Use the Tell Us Once service to tell government
    2. If you cannot use Tell Us Once, tell government yourself

    You'll also need to tell banks, utility companies, and landlords or housing associations yourself.

  4. Step 4 Check if you can get bereavement benefits

  5. and Deal with your own benefits, pension and taxes

    Your tax, benefit claims and pension might change depending on your relationship with the person who died.

    1. Manage your tax, pensions and benefits if your partner has died
    2. Check how benefits are affected if a child dies
  6. and Check if you need to apply to stay in the UK

  7. Step 5 Value the estate and check if you need to pay Inheritance Tax

    To find out if there’s Inheritance Tax to pay, you need to estimate the value of the property, money and possessions (the ‘estate’) of the person who died.

    1. Estimate the value of the estate to find out if you need to pay Inheritance Tax
    1. Find out how to report the value of the estate
    1. Pay Inheritance Tax if it’s due
  8. Step 6 Apply for probate

    You might need to apply for probate before you can deal with the property, money and possessions (the ‘estate’) of the person who died.

    1. Check if you need to apply for probate
    1. Apply for probate
  9. Step 7 Deal with the estate

    Pay any debts or taxes owed by the person who's died. You can then distribute the estate as set out in the will or the law.

    1. Deal with the estate
    1. Update property records