Become a British citizen

1. Check if you can apply

There are different ways to become a British citizen. The most common is called ‘naturalisation’.

You can apply for British citizenship by naturalisation if:

you’re 18 or over
you’re of good character, eg you don’t have a serious or recent criminal record, and you haven’t tried to deceive the Home Office or been involved in immigration offences in the last 10 years
you’ll continue to live in the UK
you’ve met the knowledge of English and life in the UK requirements
you meet the residency requirement
And you must usually have:

lived in the UK for at least the 5 years before the date of your application
spent no more than 450 days outside the UK during those 5 years
spent no more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months
been granted indefinite leave to stay in the UK (or permanent residence if you’re an EEA national) – this means there’s no specific date that you have to leave
had indefinite leave to stay in the UK for the last 12 months (or permanent residence if you’re an EEA national)
not broken any immigration laws while in the UK
There are different requirements if your spouse or civil partner is a British citizen.

You can’t include any time spent in the UK when you’re exempt from immigration control (eg as a diplomat or member of visiting armed forces) as part of the 5 years.

Read the full guidance notes and the requirements booklet before applying.

You may be able to apply to become a British citizen by ‘registration’ in certain circumstances.

Children under 18
You can apply on behalf of a child under 18 if they meet the eligibility criteria. They don’t have to pass the Life in the UK Test.

Read more about citizenship for children under 18 in Guide MN1.

If your spouse is a British citizen
If you’re married to, or the civil partner of, a British citizen, you can apply for citizenship if:

you’re 18 or over
you’re of sound mind, eg you’re able to think and make decisions for yourself
you’re of good character, eg you don’t have a serious or recent criminal record
you’ve met the knowledge of English and life in the UK requirements
you’ve been granted indefinite leave to stay in the UK (or permanent residence if you’re an EEA national) – this means there’s no specific date that you have to leave
you meet the residency requirement
Unless your spouse or civil partner works abroad either for the UK government or for an organisation closely linked to government, you must usually also have:

lived in the UK for at least the 3 years before your application is received
spent no more than 270 days outside the UK in those 3 years
spent no more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months
not broken any immigration laws while in the UK
Read the guidance notes and the requirements booklet before applying.