The good character requirement for British citizenship
Produced in partnership with Francesca Delany; and Andrew Osborne and Bronte Cullum of Lewis Silkin

The following Immigration practice note produced in partnership with Francesca Delany; and Andrew Osborne and Bronte Cullum of Lewis Silkin provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • The good character requirement for British citizenship
  • Disclosure of relevant matters
  • Deception and dishonesty
  • Standard of proof
  • Checks carried out by the Home Office
  • Grounds for refusal
  • Criminal convictions
  • Non-custodial sentences and out of court disposals
  • Sanctions that are recorded on a person’s criminal record
  • Sanctions that are not recorded on a person’s criminal record
  • More...

The good character requirement for British citizenship

Under section 6(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981 (BNA 1981) and BNA 1981, Sch 1, para 1(1)(b), all applicants who apply for naturalisation as a British citizen must be of good character.

The good character requirement also applies to persons aged ten or over who applies for registration as a British citizen. However, the good character requirement is not relevant for applications made under:

  1. the statelessness provisions of BNA 1981, Sch 2

  2. BNA 1981, s 4B from an eligible person who has no other citizenship aside from being a British Overseas citizen, British subject under BNA 1981, British protected person or British National (Overseas)

  3. BNA 1981, s 4C

  4. BNA 1981, s 4F where a person would be entitled to register under BNA 1981, Sch 2, paras 4 or 5

  5. BNA 1981, ss 4G–4I

There is no statutory definition of ‘good character’ and no statutory guidance on the interpretation or application of the requirement. There is however internal guidance to Home Office decision makers in the form of the Nationality Guidance, Good character requirement, which provides information on how the requirement is applied in practice in relation to all relevant applications for British citizenship.

Currently the Nationality Guidance Registration as a British citizen: children instructs caseworkers dealing with registration applications from children aged ten or over to 'take into account the

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