Obtaining British citizenship is the ultimate goal for many people who arrive in the UK through various immigration routes. To become a UK citizen, you gain the benefits of living and working without the restrictions of immigration controls.

In this article, you will learn how to apply for UK citizenship, if you are eligible, and how much it costs.

Benefits of British Citizenship

Now that you know everything you need to apply for UK citizenship, why would you want to? What are some of the advantages of being British? Here are a few reasons why you should rejoice if your application is approved:

Unrestricted access

You can apply for a British passport, allowing unrestricted access to leave and enter the country without immigration restrictions. You can also travel to all member nations of the European Union without needing a visa (this may all change after the UK leaves the EU).

Freedom to live, work, and study

One of the most significant benefits is the unrestricted right to live, work, and study in the UK. As a citizen, you won’t face any immigration controls or restrictions, reflecting the same rights granted to all UK citizens. Thus, you can reside in the UK permanently without worrying about visa limitations or immigration rules.

Access to a British passport

British passports are recognized as one of the most powerful globally, offering visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 139 countries. Additionally, 7 countries allow travel authorization obtained online, and 38 countries permit visa applications upon arrival. This passport not only facilitates hassle-free international travel but also serves as a solid proof of your residency rights in the UK.

Voting rights and political participation

As a British citizen, you gain the right to vote in local and national elections and referendums. You’re also eligible to stand for public office, allowing you to actively participate and influence the political landscape of your community and country.

Free healthcare

Another significant perk is access to the National Health Service (NHS), which provides free healthcare to all British citizens. This includes a wide range of medical services, ensuring your health and well-being are taken care of without the burden of medical expenses.

Eligibility for public funds

Unlike visa holders, who are often restricted from claiming public funds, British citizens can fully access various state benefits in the UK. This includes financial support such as a jobseeker’s allowance or child benefit, offering a safety net in times of need.

No work restrictions

There are no restrictions on your right to work in the UK, allowing you to pursue any career or job without needing additional permissions or work visas.

Eligibility for public funds

Unlike visa holders, who are often restricted from claiming public funds, British citizens can fully access various state benefits in the UK. This includes financial support such as a jobseeker’s allowance or child benefit, offering a safety net in times of need.

No work restrictions

There are no restrictions on your right to work in the UK, allowing you to pursue any career or job without needing additional permissions or work visas.

Freedom to travel abroad

Being a British citizen means no restrictions on traveling abroad, allowing you to explore the world without worrying about your residency status in the UK.

Eligibility for British Citizenship

If you do not qualify for citizenship by descent, you may apply for UK citizenship by naturalization. You can apply if you are married to a British citizen or meet the naturalization criteria.

uk citizenship requirements You may be eligible for citizenship if you are a European Economic Area citizen or come from another part of the world and moved to the UK on a visa.

You may be eligible for UK citizenship if:

  • You have a British parent
  • You have a different form of British nationality
  • Your parent is a British overseas territories citizen
  • You lack any state affiliation
  • You once relinquished (renounced) your citizenship
  • Other unique conditions pertain to you
  • You have permanent residency

Based on the British Nationality Act, those without familial ties who wish to become British citizens by naturalization must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be 18 or over
  • Have transitioned to Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK for a minimum of 12 months
  • Pass the B1 CEFR level English language requirement (unless exempt)

If your immigration status falls within any of the above, you can apply for British Citizenship. Also, read our complete guide about second citizenship.


A key requirement is residency in the UK.If you have lived in the UK for five years and have had Indefinite Leave to Remain for at least 12 months, you are eligible to apply for UK citizenship. You can also apply if you are from the EEA and have had permanent residency for 12 months.

For your application to be accepted, you will also need:

  1. Must be 18 years old or older
  2. Must not have a serious criminal record
  3. You must be a UK permanent residence with Indefinite Leave to Remain status
  4. Must not have broken any immigration laws while in the UK
  5. Must pass the Life in the UK test and satisfy English Language Requirements

Additional considerations

  • Commonwealth citizens and Irish citizens may have different pathways to citizenship.
  • Those from British colonies or considered British subjects due to historical ties to the British Empire may also have unique eligibility.

NOTE: As an international student in the UK, you might be wondering about the possibility of acquiring UK citizenship for students. However, under current regulations, holding a student visa does not directly qualify you to apply for UK citizenship. This type of visa doesn’t provide a pathway to change your status to that of a regular UK resident, which is typically a requirement for seeking citizenship.

How to Apply for UK Citizenship

Once you’re satisfied you meet the eligibility criteria for citizenship, the next step is to submit an application form with all the relevant documents. You will need to demonstrate the following:

If your application is on the grounds of marriage to a British citizen, you must prove that you have lived in the UK for 3 years and have Indefinite Leave to Remain status. You must also demonstrate that you have spent less than 90 days in the past 12 months or 270 days in 3 years outside the country.

If you’re not married to a British citizen, you must have lived in the country for 5 years, have ILR status, and not been outside the country for more than 90 days in 12 months or 450 days in 5 years. You must also demonstrate your intention to continue to live in the UK.

  • Prove you have passed the ‘Life in the UK’ test.
  • Prove your knowledge of English, Welsh, or Gaelic.
  • Be of good character.
  • Prove you intend to continue living in the UK.

Although the requirements are strict, if you satisfy all of them, you will likely receive a positive outcome to your application.

Before applying

Before starting your UK citizenship application, it is important for you to first obtain permanent residency in the UK, such as an indefinite leave to remain or a ‘settled status’ under the EU Settlement Scheme. The rule applies to everyone, even if you are married or in a civil partnership with a British citizen.

Besides having the right to live in the UK, there are a few more things you need to do before you apply for citizenship. These requirements can be straightforward if your spouse or civil partner is British. However, if you’re from the EU, the European Economic Area (EEA), Switzerland, or a foreign national or family member from these places, the requirements can be different.

Ensure you understand the specific legal status and additional requirements you must meet before beginning your application process.

After applying

Usually, after you submit your UK citizenship application, it takes about 6 months to hear back. Sometimes it might take longer, especially now that the coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused some delays. This delay, however, won’t have a negative impact on the decision about your British citizenship application.

There might be times when they need more details from you to process your application. If that is the case, they will let you know exactly what extra information you need to provide.

Also, inform UK Visas and Immigration about significant life changes (like moving, marriage, or legal issues) while your application is pending. You can email the Nationality Contact Centre at nat[email protected] if you need to contact them.

Sometimes, they might ask you to come in for an interview. If this happens, be ready for a potential interview where you’ll speak without an interpreter.

Citizenship Ceremony

uk citizenship ceremony Becoming a UK citizen is a big deal, and if you’re 18 or older, you get to mark this milestone by attending a citizenship ceremony. Once your application to become a British citizen is approved, you’ll receive an invitation from the Home Office.

They will send you an invitation, and you must book a ceremony within 3 months of receiving the letter.

You can book a group ceremony with your local council. This cost £80. You can take two guests with you to attend the ceremony.

Private ceremonies are also available, but you must discuss the cost with your local council.

Attending the ceremony is optional for those becoming British citizens under the Windrush scheme, and there’s no fee attached to it.

Arranging your ceremony

Your local council takes care of setting up the citizenship ceremony. These events are typically held in groups, but if you want something more intimate, you can request a private ceremony. To book your ceremony, you’ll need to contact your local council. Don’t forget to bring the invitation you received to the ceremony. Also, you can usually bring along two guests to share in your special moment.

Costs involved

The fee for the ceremony is already included in what you paid for your citizenship application. Choosing a private ceremony might cost extra, so check with your local council about any additional fees.

If you’re outside the UK

If you currently reside in a foreign country, you can inquire at the embassy or consulate there to see if you can host your citizenship ceremony locally. However, if you’re only away temporarily, they might ask you to wait until you return to the UK. You must book your ceremony within three months of receiving the invitation. If you plan to stay abroad for a long time, you’ll need to prove that you intend to live in the UK permanently. Also, if you applied for citizenship in the UK, you cannot have your ceremony abroad.

During the ceremony

At the ceremony, you will make a formal pledge to the UK, which includes an oath of allegiance (or an affirmation, if preferred) and a pledge to respect the UK’s rights, freedoms, and laws. Once the ceremony is over, you’ll receive your British citizenship certificate and a welcome pack. Some local councils also offer the option to purchase photographs or videos of the event, commemorating when you officially hold British citizenship.

Exceptions to attending a ceremony

Not all applicants are required to attend a citizenship ceremony. You are exempt from this requirement if you are registering as a British Overseas Territories citizen, British overseas citizen, or British subject. However, you will still need to take an oath or affirmation of allegiance and receive instructions on how to do this.

How Much Does It Cost to Apply for UK Citizenship?

The government reviews the citizenship application fee every year. Currently, it costs £1,330 to apply for British Citizenship. You must pay the correct fee, or your application may be rejected. The fee is not refundable if your application is unsuccessful.

You will also pay £19.20 for processing your biometric data, which are fingerprints and photographs, as part of the application process. You will receive a letter with the instructions once your application has been received.

How long does it take?

You will receive written confirmation after successfully submitting your citizenship application. It may take up to 6 months to process the application. Some complicated cases may take longer.

How Can Global Citizen Solutions Help You?

Global Citizen Solutions is a boutique migration consultancy firm with years of experience delivering bespoke residence and citizenship by investment solutions for international families. With offices worldwide and an experienced, hands-on team, we have helped hundreds of clients worldwide acquire citizenship, residence visas, or homes while diversifying their portfolios with robust investments. 

We guide you from start to finish, taking you beyond your citizenship or residency by investment application. 

Start Your UK Citizenship Journey

In this article, you have learned about the different routes to gaining British Citizenship, the UK citizenship eligibility requirements, the application process, and how much it costs. Citizenship is desirable because it offers you the rights and protections under the law and unrestricted access to work and travel without immigration controls. If you want to know more about UK visas and British citizenship, have a look at these articles:

Frequently Asked Questions About UK Citizenship

How can I get UK citizenship from the US?

To hold British citizenship as an American, you would typically need to complete a UK citizenship application. This process often involves living in the UK for a certain period, adhering to specific requirements, and possibly renouncing your current citizenship unless going for dual citizenship.

Does England allow dual citizenship?

Yes, England allows dual citizenship. This means you can be a British subject and a citizen of another foreign country without losing your British status.

Does the US allow dual citizenship with the UK?

The United States permits its citizens to hold British citizenship as well, recognizing dual nationality. Both countries do not require you to give up one citizenship to hold the other.

How long does it take to get UK citizenship as an American?

The time it takes to be granted citizenship in the UK as an American varies. Typically, after fulfilling residence requirements and submitting your UK citizenship application, it can take several months to a year for the process to complete.

How do I qualify for dual citizenship in the UK?

Qualification for dual citizenship in the UK depends on factors like your current citizenship status, employment status, and whether you have a British subject or civil partner in the UK.

What is proof of living in the UK for 5 years citizenship?

Proof of living in the UK for 5 years for British citizenship by naturalisation often includes documents like bank statements, utility bills, or official correspondence showing your residence.

How many years do you have to stay in the UK to become a citizen?

Generally, foreign nationals need to have settled status, often after living in the UK for 5 years, to apply for UK citizenship. This period varies for Commonwealth citizens, Irish citizens, or those from British colonies under certain conditions.

What are the immigration time restrictions for Commonwealth countries' citizens seeking UK citizenship through civil partnership with a British national?

Citizens from Commonwealth countries who are in a civil partnership with a British national must comply with specific immigration time restrictions before they can apply for UK citizenship. Generally, they need to have lived in the UK with valid immigration permission for a continuous period, usually for at least five years, before they can apply. During this time, they must not have spent more than a certain number of days outside the UK. It is advisable to Provide legal advice or consult the Aliens Act for specific details and requirements.

What are the requirements for foreign nationals to pass the UK test for citizenship, and what are reasonable grounds for exemption?

Foreign nationals applying for UK citizenship must pass the “Life in the UK Test,” a standard requirement to demonstrate knowledge of British customs, traditions, and language. However, there are reasonable grounds for exemption, such as age or long-term physical or mental conditions. Additionally, applicants must meet residency requirements and should not have any immigration time restrictions or adverse immigration history. It’s important to Provide legal advice on individual circumstances, as specifics can vary based on the applicant’s background and situation.

More About UK Citizenship

UK Citizenship By Investment – The Ultimate Guide By Experts
More Info arrow icon
Innovator Visa UK
More Info arrow icon
Global Talent Visa UK
More Info arrow icon
Entrepreneur Visa UK
More Info arrow icon