The main image to illustrate the British Citizenship topic


British Citizenship is a permission which authorises you to work and live in the UK permanently without immigration limitations.

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Main types of British nationality or "citizenship statuses":

  • Travel in and out of the UK without limitations;
  • Fully take part in all general and local elections;
  • Eligibility for all state benefits and healthcare.

Routes to British Citizenship:

British by Birth

Birth in the UK does not automatically lead to British Citizenship. Acquisition of citizenship is connected to the immigration status of the child's parents.

Since 1 January 1983, being born in the UK is not enough to be automatically born British. One parent must have settled immigration status, such as Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), or have British Citizenship at the time of birth.

British Birth Certificate
To summarise, a person can become a British citizen by:
  • Birth on or after 1 January 1983 in the UK;
  • Having at least one parent with British Citizenship or 'settled' in the UK.

British by Registration

A person may be eligible to be registered as a British citizen (if they are not eligible to get British Citizenship automatically), either by entitlement or discretionarily:

By entitlement:

Discretionary basis:

It applies to a child before their 18th or to a British overseas territories citizen at any time.

* Children born in the UK whose parent has become a British citizen or settled


  • Not British citizens at birth because neither parent was settled in the UK or a British citizen;
  • While they are minors, neither of the parents has since become settled in the UK a British citizen;
  • Under the age of 18;
  • Good character requirements (if over the age of 10).

Documentary evidence:

  • Full birth certificate showing the child's birth in the UK, parents' details and registration 12 months after the birth;
  • Proof of parent's British Citizenship since the applicant's birth, such as:
    • British passport;
    • Naturalisation certificate;
    • Registration certificate.
  • Proof of the parent's settled status:
    • ILR (indefinite leave to remain);
    • A no-time-limit stamp;
    • BRP (biometric residence permit).
  • A Marriage Certificate if:
    • The parent settled in the UK or has British Citizenship after the child was born;
    • For a born before 1 July 2006 to a father who is settled in the UK or has a British citizen.

** UK-born minors with residence in the UK from birth to 10 years old


  • Born in the UK;
  • Not a British citizen at the time of birth;
  • The parent was not British nor settled in the UK;
  • 10 years old or over on the date of the application;
  • Lived in the UK for their first 10 years;
  • Spent less than 90 days in each year of their first ten years outside of the UK;
  • Good character requirements.

Documentary evidence:

  1. Applicant's full birth certificate;
  2. Proof of residence, including their first 10 years of life;
  3. Up to 5 years old:
    • passport;
    • vaccination records;
    • doctors' letters;
    • personal child health record (red book);
    • letters from the child's nursery;
  4. Aged 5 to 10 years:
    • Letters from the child's school confirming attendance;
    • Passport or travel document for the entire 10-year period to verify absences.

*** Children born in the UK to members of British Armed Forces

Following the British Nationality Act 1981, any child born in the UK can be a British citizen if one parent was a serving member of HM Forces at the time of the birth. So a child can get British Citizenship despite neither parent having settled status nor being British.

  • Born in the UK on or after 13 January 2010;
  • Under the age of 18 on the date of application;
  • Not a British citizen at birth;
  • The parent was not:
    • Settled in the UK;
    • A British citizen;
    • Serving in the UK armed forces.
  • A Parent is a member of the UK Armed Forces before the child is under 18;
  • Good character requirements (if over the age of 10).
Documentary evidence:
  • The child's full birth certificate;
  • Proof of parent's service in the UK Armed Forces (a letter from the Ministry of Defence).

**** Children born outside the UK, one parent has British Citizenship by descent at the time of the child's birth.
  • Born outside the UK;
  • One parent has British Citizenship by descent at the time of the birth;
  • Under the age of 18 on the application date;
  • Parent(s) with or without a child spent three years in the UK;
  • Parent(s) with or without a child have been absent less than 270 days outside the UK in the three years;
  • The consent letter from parents;
  • Good character requirements (if over the age of 10).
  • If a child spent three years in the UK before registration, they eligible to have British Citizenship otherwise than by descent.

Documentary evidence:
  • The child’s full birth certificate showing parents' details;
  • British Citizenship by descent at the time of the child's birth of one of the parents;
  • Parent's marriage certificate if the claim is through the father;
  • Passports or alternative proof of residence for the parents and child, which can guarantee:
    • Residence in the UK for three years before the application date;
    • Less than 270 days in the three years outside of the UK.
  • If one parent died, the death certificate;
  • If the parent's marriage or civil partnership has ended in divorce, either:
    • The parents' divorce certificate;
    • A decree of nullity;
    • Evidence of dissolution of civil partnership o a decree of judicial separation.

British by Naturalisation

Naturalisation is the most common procedure for obtaining UK citizenship if a person, aged 18 and over, doesn't have a British parent and was born outside the UK.

Naturalisation as a British Citizen
  • A minimum of five years of living in the UK before the day of application;
  • To present in the UK on the day five years before the Home Office receives the application;
  • No breach of the immigration laws before applying in the five years.
  • To have no time limitations to reside in the United Kingdom, i.e. to be settled, for the 12 months before making the application and on the date of application;
  • To spend less than 450 days outside the UK before completing the application in five years;
  • To spend less than 90 days outside the UK before completing the application in the 12 months;
  • Intention to continue to live in the UK, excluding applicants via a spouse visa route;
  • Pass of the Life in the UK test, if not exempt;
  • To satisfy the English Language knowledge requirements;
  • To met good character requirements*
  • To have two referees**
Documentary evidence:
  • Proof of identity and permanent residence statuses;
    • Proof that you have ILR or EU Settled Status;
    • Evidence of previous immigration status and your right to remain in the UK, and any visa you had before settling in the UK;
  • Proof of the following knowledge:
    • English language;
    • Life in the UK.
  • Proof of lawful residence in the UK during the qualifying period;
  • Travel details any period of absence you have spent outside the UK;
  • Provide letters about your current employment, from your education establishment or bank statements.

* 'Good character' requirements
The British Nationality Act 1981 includes a good character requirement, which applies to registration and naturalisation applications for persons over ten years old at the date of application. Generally, the following key areas will be assessed and considered:
  • Criminality;
  • International crimes, terrorism and other non-conducive activity;
  • Financial soundness;
  • Notoriety;
  • Parenting;
  • Deception and dishonesty;
  • Immigration-related matters;
  • Deprivation.

** Referees for UK citizenship application. Who is qualified?
Two referees need to meet the following requirements:
  • Have known each other (applicant and referee) for at least three years;
  • Cannot be related to the applicant;
  • Not convicted of an imprisonable offence (in the last ten years) before application;
  • One of the referees must have an occupation from a list of suitable professional person occupations, such as solicitor, barrister, accountant, dentist, director of a VAT registered company, police officer or social worker;
  • Cannot be employed by the Home Office;
  • Both of them don't have to be British citizens;
  • One of your referees must be a UK national with a British passport. This person must be either 25 years old or an accredited professional.
Requirements for two references to naturalise as a British

British by adoption

Adoption - a child automatically becomes a British citizen if a UK citizen adopts them.
  • The adoption is not informal or temporary;
  • The child is the child of the adoptive parents alone;
  • The legal relationship with the birth family is terminated completely;
  • One of the adoptive parents is a British citizen otherwise than by descent;
  • Consent from the current parents;
  • There is no reason to refuse on character grounds;
  • All relevant adoption laws have been adhered to.

British by descent

British citizens are classed as:
British citizenship by descent applies automatically where:
  • An individual is born outside the UK;
  • One or both parents are British citizens otherwise than by descent*.

* British citizens otherwise than by descent
British citizenship otherwise than by descent is more privileged than British citizenship by descent. It allows someone to pass British citizenship onto their child born overseas automatically. A person can be a British citizen otherwise than by descent in the following circumstances:
  • If born or adopted in the UK before 1 January 1983;
  • If born in the UK on or after 1 January 1983 to a mother or, if parents were married, a father who was a British citizen or settled in the UK;
  • If born in the UK on or after 1 July 2006, where either parent is a British citizen or settled in the UK;
  • If has been given Citizenship after applying for it in your own right - by being naturalised or registered as a British citizen.

If settled, when can I apply for British Citizenship?

After holding settled status in the UK for at least 12 months, you can apply for British Citizenship. This requirement applies also to those who have had EU-settled status.

The application procedure

Normally, three to six months takes time for British Citizenship applications. Perform the following steps:
If your application is approved:
  • Receive an invitation for the Ceremony;
  • Attend a Citizenship ceremony;
  • Obtain your Certificate of Naturalisation or Registration.

Fees and additional costs


To apply for Naturalisation;


To apply for adult registration;


To apply for for children registration;


Citizenship Ceremony Fee for adults


English test, if not exempt


Life in the UK Test, if not exempt


To send your fingerprints and photo to the Home Office;

Dual Citizenship in the UK

Important: Check with your country's regulations if you can hold your status in the UK because each country has its own rules associated with dual nationality.

Dual Citizenship is permitted in the UK, so renouncing previous nationalities is not required. UK law also allows multiple citizenships.