Applying for UK citizenship

The Process of Becoming a British Citizen

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.

Life in the UK test books

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.

To book the Life in the UK test, use this link and for more information on my experience taking it, read this post.

Life in the UK mock test

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.

Jennie xx


  • Caroline

    I’m so excited for you, as know you’ve talked about this before. 🙂
    I had a quick zoom in on the questions in your picture and I can personally say that I’m not sure if I’d
    I’d love to know what the other questions
    Good luck with it all though Jennie, you’ll fly it!


    • Jennie

      Thanks Caroline 🙂 It’s nice to see the support from others. Ha yes the questions are tricky. I don’t think I’d pass if they had an equivalent in Sweden. x

  • Dannielle

    Mine was a little different (probably since I’m from America) I came on a 2 year partner visa, and after those two years, I could apply for my indefinite leave to remain. In order to get this, I had to take the life in the UK test, and send it along with my application. It is a ridiculous test! I think they’ve updated it though to be a bit more current since I took it a few years ago. I’m probably going to go the citizen route eventually, but it’s so expensive for me! It’s around 1200-1500 I think at the minute. One day!

    • Jennie

      Yeah I think they have slight different processes depending on where you’re from. I haven’t been back taking tests like this since school and never did I think i’d ever have to again, ha. I’ve been saving up money for it, ridiculous money to spend and the small extra costs adds up. Oh well, good luck if you go through with it too! x

  • Carolin

    Jennie, I can’t thank you enough for sharing this with me / us. I’m going to start the process this week and will apply for the residency card. thanks for the tip with the registrar office. I will make sure I have all documents and get appointments in. Best of luck for the further process and let me know how you get on. To make the blog post perfect, would let me know what the timings are roughly? I know the residency card may take up to 6 months (my friend got it in a few weeks and you mentioned a few weeks too). I guess the test is then whenever and you can do it in the meantime. Step 3 timing would be interesting to know. Thank you, Caz xxx

    Caz | Style Lingua

  • Aneta

    Thanks Jennie for a lot of very helpful advises. The cost of booking The Life in UK test is £50 currently. I’ve already passed my GESE Grade 5 and I’ve booked this another test. I’d like to apply for citizenship as well. I’m a bit confused about ‘recording’ all the times you have been abroad in the last 5 years. I’d prefer to pass my Life in UK exam first before I’ll drop to look at the AN application; but it’s scared me because I’m not sure if I’m able to find all my trips’ dates in the last 5 years.

    • Jennie

      Glad you find the post useful Aneta. Yeah I noticed the price for the Life in the UK test has gone down again, that’s great. I think noting down all the times I’ve left the country was the hardest, so thankful for all the photos and Facebook dates to look at. Any chance you’ve saved all your flight confirmation emails? That might help 🙂

      • Aneta

        No, I didn’t. But I always take a pictures wherever I am so it helps a bit. Anyway, the life in UK test passed. I’ve already read all guides and booklets how to apply for citizenship. I’ve found it not quite easy so far. I’d like to use NCS as well. Have you applied for British passport?

        • Jennie

          Whoop – congratulations!! I applied for the passport when I sent in the documents for citizenship. Speeds up the process and also cuts out a few steps you’d have to take if you wait to do it afterwards.

          • Aneta

            Thank you Jennie 🙂 Finally I’ve decided to use Nationality Checking Service where the paper AN form is checking instead of Nationality Document Return Service where I have to bring on-line filled form and additional apply for a passport (on the paper form from the post office – I believe). Maybe some offices do this joint but on the website is that if someone would like to apply for a passport at the same time has to apply on-line. I’m a bit confused about this but an appointment has already booked. What kind of difficulties can I meet afterwards? I’m no in doubt there will be 🙂

          • Jennie

            I’d bring a passport form to the meeting just in case. You can fill it in there and then. Make sure that you have proof of everything that the form requires. I looked over it several times before bringing everything. I believe that in case the council needs more proof or additional information, they’ll be in touch. Mine was successful straight away so can’t be very helpful with potential issues. Let me know how it all goes.

  • Aneta

    Jennie, I’m a bit confused how I should counting the number of days of absences. According to the guide I should ignore days I left the UK and back to the UK. Is it right? (from Helpline I have different answer). Second, if I will apply in July 2018, should I include an absence in June 2013? Maybe you can help.

  • Aneta

    Sorry for delay in reply, many things happened meanwhile. I become a British citizen two days ago 🙂 Do you think I have to return my PR card (it’s not a biometric one)?

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