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Preparing to apply for citizenship

This advice applies to Scotland

Allow lots of time to apply for citizenship. If you have to wait before you can apply, it’s worth doing some things to prepare.

Also check exactly what you need to do to apply - it’s different depending on your situation.

Pass the Life in the UK Test

You usually need to pass the Life in the UK Test before you can apply for citizenship.

You can do the test any time before you apply.

Check if you need to do the test

You don’t need to pass the Life in the UK Test if:

  • you’re under 18 or over 65
  • you’ve already passed it - for example, if you applied for 'indefinite leave to remain'
  • your doctor gives you a form or letter confirming that you can’t do the test because of a long-term physical or mental condition

Your condition must make it impossible for you to do the test - for example, a learning disability or brain injury that stops you remembering facts. Your doctor’s letter must explain that your condition is not likely to change. You can get a form for your doctor to fill in on GOV.UK.

Doing the test

You can do the test as many times as you need to before you pass - but you have to pay a £50 fee each time. Find out how to book and prepare for the Life in the UK Test on GOV.UK.

You need to study the official handbook to pass the test. You can also buy an app to practice - search for the official Life in the UK Test app by TSO (The Stationery Office).

Some colleges offer short courses to help prepare for the test. These can cost from about £50 for a single day to more than £200 for a longer course.

Prove your knowledge of English

You usually need to prove your knowledge of English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic before you can apply for citizenship.

You might need to do a speaking and listening test - you can usually do this up to 2 years before you apply.

Check if you need to prove your knowledge of English

You don’t need to prove your knowledge of English if:

  • you’re under 18 or over 65
  • you’re from a country that’s exempt - check the list of exempt nationalities on GOV.UK
  • your doctor gives you a form or letter confirming that you can’t do the test because of a long-term physical or mental condition

Your condition must make it impossible for you to learn English, for example a learning disability or brain injury that affects your memory. Your doctor’s letter must explain that your condition is not likely to change. You can get a form for your doctor to fill in GOV.UK.

If you’re from an English-speaking country

You should still check the list of nationalities that are exempt from proving knowledge of English. It doesn’t include all countries where English is spoken.

Proving your knowledge of English

You need to provide a qualification with your application to prove you’ve done one of the following:

The test is at B1 level (or higher) and costs around £150. Tests are usually valid for 2 years - if you’ve already done a test, check it’s still valid on GOV.UK.

Prove how long you’ve lived in the UK

You usually need to prove how long you’ve lived in the UK, even if you’ve done this already - for example, if you recently applied for 'settled status'.

This is called the ‘residency requirement’. The residency requirement for you will depend on your situation. But you usually need to work out exactly when you were in the UK over a certain amount of time - for example, the 5 years before you apply. Check old calendars and travel bookings to help you.

For example, you might need to:

  • write down the dates for every time you travelled outside the UK - it helps to put these in a table
  • count the number of days you were outside the UK - there’s usually a limit
  • look back 5 years and make sure you were in the UK on the same day of the year as the day you apply

Check exactly what you need to do first - the residency requirement is different depending on your situation.

Check exactly what you need and how to apply

Exactly what you need to do depends on your situation. Check GOV.UK for the documents you need, and how to apply for you and your children, if:

If your situation is different, check other ways you can apply for citizenship on GOV.UK.

Check your application carefully

It’s important to check you have the right information and documents before you apply. If something is missing or wrong, the Home Office can refuse to accept your application and you will not get your money back.

Get help preparing your application

Contact your nearest Citizens Advice if you need help with your application or evidence.

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