How to Become a British Citizen: Your Complete Guide

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Are you looking to apply for British citizenship?

Known for having one of the top economies in the world, the United Kingdom has one of the highest numbers of ex-pats. Not only does the UK offer many job opportunities, but the standard of living is also high.

Because of that, it’s no surprise that many people plan on moving and settling down there. While there are a lot of benefits of becoming a British citizen, getting citizenship is another story.

The existing UK citizenship law comes from the 1981 British Nationality Act. This law lays out the ways you can become British citizenship. Keep in mind that although the citizenship rules are liberal, the path in getting it is challenging.

Learn how you can become a UK citizen with this complete guide.

Becoming A British Citizen: Benefits And Requirements

The path to becoming a UK citizen is long and difficult because of its complexities. There’s no doubt that the benefits of having citizenship are great.

Most ex-pats who plan on applying for UK citizenship have a certificate of Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). This gives the people the right to have permanent work and live in the UK. Unlike British citizens, people with ILR have restrictions on the rights they can have.

Some of these limits are the inability to vote and apply for a British passport. Because of that, becoming a British citizen is a better option. Here are the major benefits of becoming a UK citizen.

  • Vote in elections and hold a position in the public office
  • Apply for a British passport
  • Have permanent work and live in the UK
  • Leave and re-enter the country without time limits
  • Access free NHS medical care

When you’re planning to apply for British citizenship, there are major requirements you need to fulfill. Keep in mind that there will be extra documents and paperwork depending on what path you will use. The following are the basic requirements to become a UK citizen.

  • At least 18 years of age
  • Has good character
  • Has been living in the UK for a certain period
  • Meets the English language requirements (IELTS, Language Certification, Pearson, Trinity College London)
  • Passes the ‘Life in the UK’ examination

You also have to prepare and submit your current passport as well as other visas.

British Citizenship Test

Before you begin applying for British citizenship, you first need to pass the “Life in the UK” examination. This is a 24-question test that revolves around British culture, traditions, and customs. Remember to book a test three or more days before you take it.

To help you pass on your first try, you can take a preparation course and practice tests at sites like

How To Become A British Citizen

There are a lot of paths you can take to get UK citizenship. It’s best that you check out all options to find which is the best pathway you can use. Choosing the best path can make your approval rate higher.

Here are some of the most common citizenship pathways on how to become a British citizen.

By Naturalization

One of the most common ways to apply for British citizenship is through naturalization. Most foreign ex-pats use this to apply for their citizenship, including other residents who were born in the UK.

When applying through naturalization, the major qualification is the applicant’s duration of stay. For instance, you can apply for citizenship through naturalization if you have lived in the UK for five years. This should include at least 12 months of indefinite leave or a settled EU status.

Naturalization applications are often processed within six months. This can be faster if you’re married to a British citizen.

By Birth

Another way of becoming a UK citizen is by birth. This path is only applicable for applicants with parents who were citizens of Britain or the European Union. It can also apply to Swiss parents.

You can apply if you are born after January 1, 1983, to a British citizen parent. Not only that but if you have also been residing in the British Islands or the Falkland Islands. This is also applicable for those born after January 1, 2010, to a parent who has served in the British Armed Forces during that time.

By Descent

You can also become a UK citizen through citizenship by descent. This means that you are born before 1983 overseas and have at least one parent with British citizenship from birth, naturalization, or adoption.

This pathway is also transferrable to only one generation down. When you’re born after 1983, you can only get citizenship if you have married parents. Your father must have also gained his British citizenship in other ways except by descent.

By Registration

Applying for citizenship by registration is somewhat like naturalization. The difference is that this is only for certain individuals. The applicant should have connections to the British Islands or have some form of British nationality.

Citizenship by registration is one of the most common ways for applicants under 18 years. The approval rate is higher and faster than that of naturalization.

By Adoption

To qualify for British citizenship by adoption, one of your parents should have valid UK citizenship. The requirement is approval from any court in the UK, the Falkland Islands, or the Channel Islands on or after January 1, 1983. Take note that this adoption should have taken place on May 21, 2002, or after if in other British Overseas Territories.

A Comprehensive Guide On Becoming A British Citizen

The road to becoming a British citizen is long, tedious, and challenging. To make your application’s approval rate higher and the process quicker, you need to know which best pathway is to use. The greatest way to do that is to understand how the citizenship process works.

Studying this guide and knowing how to prepare for your Life in the UK test will enable you to start your application right. Want to know more about life in the UK? Check our other blog posts to discover more content like this.

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