Standard requirements for naturalisation
This page provides details of the requirements you must meet before we can naturalise you as a British citizen. If you are married to or a civil partner of a British citizen, the requirements you need to meet are different; you should read the Spouses and civil partners page for more details.
There are seven requirements you need to meet before you apply:
- You must be aged 18 or over.
- You must be of sound mind.
- You must intend to continue living in the UK, or to continue in Crown service, the service of an international organisation of which the UK is a member, or the service of a company or association established in the UK.
- You must be able to communicate in English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic to an acceptable degree.
- You must have sufficient knowledge of life in the UK.
- You must be of good character.
- You must meet the residential requirements (see below).
To demonstrate the residential requirements for naturalisation, you must have:
- been resident in the UK for at least five years (this is known as the residential qualifying period); and
- been present in the UK five years before the date of your application; and
- not spent more than 450 days outside the UK during the five-year period; and
- not spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months of the five-year period; and
- not been in breach of the Immigration Rules at any stage during the five-year period.
When does the residential qualifying period start?
The residential qualifying period is calculated from the day when we receive your application. Most unsuccessful applications fail because the applicant was not present in the UK at the beginning of the residential qualifying period. You must make sure you meet this requirement before you make your application. For example, if we receive your application on 25 March 2010, you must show that you were in the UK on 26 March 2005.
If you have spent time in the UK while you were exempt from immigration control, you cannot include this time as part of the residential qualifying period. If you were in the UK as a diplomat or as a member of visiting armed forces, or if you were in any place of detention, you are considered to have been exempt from immigration control during that time. This time is treated as absence from the UK when we assess your application.
Immigration time restrictions
You must be free from immigration time restrictions when you apply for naturalisation. Unless you are married to or the civil partner of a British citizen, you should have been free from immigration time restrictions during the last 12 months of the residential qualifying period.
If you are free from immigration time restrictions, there will probably be a stamp or sticker in your passport saying that you have indefinite leave to enter or remain or no time limit on your stay. But you may have a letter from the Home Office saying that you are free from immigration conditions. See The documents we require for naturalisation applications for details of how to prove you are free from immigration time restrictions.
We have discretion to allow applications from people who do not meet this requirement. For details of how we apply discretion, you should read annex B to chapter 18 of the nationality instructions.
European Economic Area nationals and Swiss nationals
If you are a national of a country in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, or you are the family member of such a person, you will automatically have permanent residence status if you have exercised EEA free-movement rights in the UK for a continuous five-year period ending on or after 30 April 2006. You do not need to apply for leave to remain. You should have held permanent residence status for 12 months before you apply for naturalisation.
If you have been outside the UK for six months or more in any one of the five years of the residence period, you will have broken your residence. This does not apply if:
- the absence was due to military service; or
- all absences were for under 12 months and were for important reasons such as pregnancy, childcare, serious illness, study, vocational training or an overseas posting.
If you leave the UK for a continuous period of two years or more, you will lose your permanent residence status.
If you have indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK, you will be considered to be settled here provided that you have not been away for two years or more since you received ILR.
Breach of immigration laws during residential qualifying period
You must have been in the UK legally throughout the residential qualifying period. We may refuse your naturalisation application if you have breached the immigration laws during that period.
Absences from the UK during the residential qualifying period
During the residential qualifying period, you must not have been absent from the UK for more than 450 days. You must not have been absent for more than 90 days in the last 12 months.
We have discretion to allow absences above the normal limits. For details of how we apply discretion, you should read the Discretion on absences from the UK page.
If you are applying on the grounds of your Crown service instead of your residence in the UK, you must show that you:
- are serving overseas in Crown service on the date when your application is received; and
- have been the holder of a responsible post overseas; and
- have given outstanding service, normally over a substantial period; and
- have a close connection with the UK.
Crown service is an alternative only to the residence requirements for naturalisation. You must still meet the other requirements for naturalisation. For more information, see Residential requirements (above) and the Discretion on absences from the UK page.
Close connection (with a country) may be by birth, adoption, descent, marriage, registration or naturalisation.
Working in the direct employment by the United Kingdom Government, the Northern Ireland Government, the Scottish Administration, the Welsh Assembly Government (from 6 November 2009) or, on or after 21 May 2002, the governments of the qualifying territories. (See Qualifying territory.) This does not include someone who is subcontracted on government projects or in the service of Crown servants, such as Royal Navy laundrymen or teachers working in schools on British bases.
This means we can consider the particular circumstances and in special cases grant an application.
You meet the requirements to apply.
The European Economic Area (EEA) consists of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the UK. Although Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are not members of the European Union (EU), their citizens have the same rights as EU citizens to enter, live in and work in the UK.
Leave to remain is permission to stay in the UK, either temporarily ('limited leave to remain') or permanently ('indefinite leave to remain').