It’s not a secret. If you read my blog regularly, you know that one of my goals for 2017 is to become a UK citizen. I’ve shared the New Years resolution as a pinned tweet on my Twitter profile as well. Finally, I’ve taken the first out of five steps towards the application but it’s not an easy process so I thought I’d share how to apply for UK citizenship in this post. I know there are others out there who are as confused by the UK governments website on how to apply as I am so hopefully this guide will be useful.
As mentioned, applying for UK citizenship is separated into five parts. First you need a Permanent Citizen Card which will allow you to take the citizenship test and once you’ve passed that you can apply for citizenship.
Worth noting. I have updated this post throughout my process as it’s given me more information and insight than the government website.
1. Apply for Permanent Recidence Card – £65
You can apply for this online which makes things easier. You still have to print out the form and send it in together with copies of documents to proof your answers, along with passport and passport pictures. Everything that’s needed is stated at the end of the application as the documents will differ slightly depending on if you can show P60s for all the five years, if you’re unemployed, a student, etc.
Once logged in, you can go back and forth between your answers as many times as you want. You have 4 weeks in total to complete the form before everything is deleted. Once you’ve sent it in and printed everything, you have ten days before all the papers need to reach the Home Office.
The application can take up to 6 months to be verified so don’t send off your original passport if you’re planning to leave the country. You can have it legally copied at your local register office. I payed £15 for mine. DON’T MAKE YOUR OWN COPY AS IT WILL BE TURNED DOWN AND YOU’LL HAVE TO GO THROUGH THE PROCESS AGAIN. The local register office will also send everything to the home office so it’s not that much money considering sending first class and signed for will most likely come to £8 or so anyway. If you’re unsure what documents to send in, they help with that too but that’s another £90 extra.
2. Take the Life in the UK Test – £76
Once you can show that you’re a permanent resident (Residency Card) you can book in to take the citizenship test. It costs £76 to take and you can retake it as many times as you want until passing. To pass you need to score 75% correct answers out of 24 multiple choice questions. You have 45 minutes in total to take it.
There are two official books to help you study (a text book and a mock up tests book). You can buy them from the Government site but also on Amazon which I did. I’ve answered a couple of the questions already and some are laughable easy whilst others are trickier. Who knows why we need to know these things but I guess it’s to show we’re taking an interest in the UK culture and lifestyle. There are mock up test flying about online as well and an app (£4 or so) which includes the text and text books.
3. Take An English Test – £150
This step isn’t necessary for everyone. Those of you who are from other English speaking countries or have graduated from a UK University don’t have to take a test. Make sure you have a diploma or certificate to prove it.
Because I’m a trained English teacher and I studied in English, I first thought that would be enough as proof for me but because it’s a Swedish University and the second half of my degree was taught in Sweden it’s not transferable. The degree has to be 100% in English in order for UK NARIC to approve it. Instead, I had to take a GESE Grade 5 exam. It felt awkward having to do so to prove level 3 English skills but it had to be done. You can read more about my experience here.
4. Apply for Citizenship – £1,285
This is the biggest step of becoming a UK citizen. The application form can be found here. It also includes a guide with all the information of what needs filling in and what documents you need as proof.
It took me a while to fill in the documents, to be sure I had everything needed. The most difficult part is listing all the times you have been abroad in the last 5 years. You need to give exact dates and destinations. Thanks to my mum, old flight confirmation emails, Facebook check-in and old photos I was able to find out all of the trips I’d taken.
Before sending everything off, I went to the local register office again and this time paid £100 for them to look over it all and make sure I’d filled everything in correctly. They give advice if something is missing, make copies of all the documents (including passport) and send everything to the Home Office by courier. £100 might sound expensive but it’s so worth it. The Home Office should ask if something’s missing once they’ve received your documents but if you get it wrong, chances are you could loose out on being approved.
At this appointment, I also applied for a UK passport. It’s another £80 or so but saves you the trouble of having to do an interview and getting it signed, which you would have to leaving it till another time.
5. Citizenship Ceremony – £80
When your application has been approved, you receive a letter of confirmation and encouragement to book in for a ceremony. If you don’t attend the ceremony, you won’t receive the certificate and your citizenship isn’t official.
At the ceremony you’ll have to take the Pledge of loyalty to the United Kingdom and either the Oath or Affirmation of allegiance to the Crown. You can bring two witnesses and at the end you’ll be given a certificate and a welcome pack. There’s a £80 fee to attend (included in the citizenship application) and if you prefer a private ceremony you can book this instead, but it costs £140. Read about my ceremony here.
Are you thinking of becoming an UK citizen? Have you gone through the process already? If so, let me know if I’ve missed anything out or if you have any other tips.