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Deciding on citizenship if you’re from the EU

This advice applies to Scotland

You and your family might not need to get British citizenship to stay in the UK if you’re from the EU, the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland. The EEA includes EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

There are benefits to getting citizenship if you’re eligible. But it's worth checking if citizenship is right for you, because it's expensive to apply and takes a lot of time. Getting British citizenship can also affect you in other ways - for example, if it means you lose citizenship of your home country.

Check if you need citizenship to stay in the UK

You already have the right to live and work in the UK permanently if you:

  • have ‘settled status’ from the EU Settlement Scheme
  • have ‘indefinite leave to remain’ (permission to stay in the UK without a time limit) from the Home Office
  • are an Irish citizen

You can stay in the UK for as long as you want if you’re in one of those situations - you don’t have to apply for citizenship if you don’t want to.

Getting 'settled status' to stay in the UK after Brexit

Find out if you can apply for settled status instead of citizenship, to keep living and working in the UK. It’s free to apply and usually easy to get.

Check if your child needs British citizenship

Your child doesn’t need to apply for citizenship if they automatically became British when they were born.

Your child might automatically be British if:

  • one of their parents was British when they were born

  • they were born in the UK and one of their parents had 'indefinite leave to remain', 'permanent residence' or 'settled status' when they were born

Check on GOV.UK if your child automatically became a British citizen if they had a British parent or they were born in the UK.

If your child is already British, they can apply for a passport to prove it. Find out on GOV.UK how to:

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you don’t have a permanent residence document to prove your status for a child’s passport.

When citizenship might be right for you

British citizenship might be right for you if it’s important for you to:

  • vote in general elections
  • get a British passport
  • get British citizenship for your children when they’re born outside the UK
  • leave the UK for as long as you want, without losing your right to return

When you can lose the right to return

If you’re not a British citizen, you can only leave the UK for:

  • 5 years without losing settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme
  • 2 years without losing indefinite leave to remain

If you’re thinking about citizenship, it’s also important to consider how much it costs, what it involves and if you can keep your current citizenship.

How much it costs

You usually pay £1,330 to apply for citizenship if you’re from the EU, EEA or Switzerland (or £1,012 for children). Most adults have to pay extra fees, too:

  • £50 to do the Life in the UK Test
  • £19.20 to send your fingerprints and photo to the Home Office
  • around £150 if you have to do an English test

You will not get your money back if your application is refused - for example, because you’re not eligible or you sent the wrong documents.

What it involves

It can take a lot of time to prepare your application for citizenship.

You usually have to do a test on British history, traditions and everyday life, called the Life in the UK Test. You also have to gather lots of documents and evidence - for example, dates for every time you came in and out of the UK during the last 5 years.

You might also need to do a speaking and listening test to prove your knowledge of English.

Find out more about what you need to do to apply for citizenship.

Check if you can keep your current nationality

You can be a citizen of Britain and a citizen of another country at the same time - but only if the other country allows it. This is called ‘dual citizenship’.

You don’t need to apply for dual citizenship. But you must check if your home country will allow you to keep your nationality and passport after you become a British citizen.

Contact the country’s consulate, embassy or high commission in the UK to check.

If your home country does not allow dual citizenship

If you apply for British citizenship, your home country will not allow you to keep your current nationality and passport. You might:

  • need a visa to visit your home country
  • not be allowed to own property there
  • not be allowed to move back

You might not be able to get your original nationality back later, even if you give up your British citizenship.

If you’ve had refugee status or humanitarian protection

You will not be able to make a ‘family reunion’ application to bring family members to the UK if you get British citizenship. This could make it more difficult and expensive to bring family to the UK.

Get help deciding

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you need help deciding if citizenship is right for you.

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