British Citizenship Overview

There are different ways to apply for British citizenship (or ‘naturalisation’) based on your circumstances. 

If you’re eligible in more than one way you can choose which way to apply. 

1. If you were born in UK

You do not automatically get British citizenship if you were born in the UK. It depends on when you were born and your parents’ circumstances. 

You may be eligible to apply for citizenship if you were born in the UK and are not automatically a British citizen. 

2. If you are married to or in civil partnership with a British citizen 

To apply as the spouse or civil partner of a British citizen you must have lived in the UK for the last 3 years. 

You’ll also need to have either: 

  • indefinite leave to remain (ILR) 
  • settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme 

If you do, you’ll be eligible to apply for citizenship immediately. 

3. If you have Indefinite Leave to remain 

You can usually apply for ILR after you’ve lived in the UK for 5 years. 

To apply for citizenship with ILR you must usually have lived in the UK for 12 months after getting it. 

4. If you have ‘settled status’ under the EU Settlement 

To apply for citizenship with settled status you must usually have lived in the UK for 12 months after getting it. 

If you have not applied to the EU Settlement Scheme 

You might still be able to apply for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme. You can then use this to apply for citizenship. 

The deadline to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme for most people was 30 June 2021. You can still apply if you have ‘reasonable grounds’ for not being able to apply by the deadline. 

5. Other Ways you can be eligible 

You may be eligible to apply for citizenship if: 

  • you have a British parent 
  • you have another type of British nationality 
  • you have a parent with British overseas territories citizenship 
  • you’re stateless 
  • you previously gave up (renounced) your citizenship  
  • you’re a Chagossian descendant (a direct descendant of someone born in British Indian Ocean Territory) 

6. If you are a Commonwealth citizen 

You may be eligible to apply for citizenship under the Windrush Scheme if both: 

  • you or one of your parents arrived in the UK before 1973 
  • you’ve lived in the UK and not been away from it for more than 2 years 

If your parent arrived in the UK before 1973, you must have either: 

  • been born in the UK 
  • arrived in the UK before you were 18 

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