Applying to naturalise as a British citizen: eligibility
Produced in partnership with Francesca Delany of 1 Mitre Court Buildings
Applying to naturalise as a British citizen: eligibility

The following Immigration guidance note Produced in partnership with Francesca Delany of 1 Mitre Court Buildings provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Applying to naturalise as a British citizen: eligibility
  • Eligibility overview
  • Non-spouse or civil partner of a British citizen
  • Spouse or civil partner of a British citizen
  • Age
  • Full capacity
  • Good character
  • Future intentions
  • Knowledge of language and life in the UK
  • Residence
  • more

Naturalisation is the most common way for adults to acquire British citizenship. The naturalisation route to British citizenship enables adults who do not fulfil automatic registration criteria but who have lived in the UK for specified periods to apply to become a British citizen.

A person who becomes a British citizen through naturalisation is considered to be a British citizen otherwise than by descent.

The current legal framework governing the criteria under which an application for naturalisation can be made is set out in the British Nationality Act 1981 (BNA 1981).

BNA 1981, s 6 and Sch 1 set out a series of requirements, some of which are compulsory and others of which are subject to an exercise of discretion on the part of the Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD) to disregard.

The requirements for naturalisation are different for an applicant who is married to, or in a civil partnership with, a British citizen, or who is in Crown service overseas or married to a British citizen in such service.

Naturalisation, unlike registration, is not an entitlement. The grant of a certificate of naturalisation is at the discretion of the SSHD. Under BNA 1981, s 6, the SSHD may grant a certificate of naturalisation to a person of full age and capacity if satisfied that person meets the requirements set out in BNA,