Individuals aged 18-64 applying to settle in the UK via indefinite leave to remain or British citizenship must first pass the British citizenship test – also known as the ‘Life in the UK test’.
The British citizenship test is designed to assess settlement applicants’ proficiency in the English language and knowledge of UK life – covering topics such as the culture, politics, geography and history of Great Britain.
You have to pass the Life in the UK test before you can progress your application for British citizenship.
British citizenship test – what is involved?
You will have 45 minutes to sit the British citizenship test.
It is a computer-based assessment, with 24 multiple-choice questions designed to test your knowledge of life in the UK.
You will need to answer at least 18 correctly to pass (75%).
You will find out the result at the end of the test.
If you pass, you will be issued a pass notification letter which you will need to send in original form with your citizenship or settlement application to prove you passed. There is no expiry on the pass notification letter; you will be able to rely on it where required for future UK immigration applications.
If you fail the test, you will lose your test fee, and you will be able to resit after seven days. You can retake the test as many times as you need to, but you will have to pay the full fee each time.
Booking the British citizenship test
You can sit the test at a number of approved locations across the UK. Test bookings are made direct with the Home Office. You must book at least 3 days before your preferred test date.
When you book, you will be asked to select your preferred test location from a list of available test centres (there are around 60 at present). You will also need to confirm your ID using either your:
- UK photocard driving licence – full or provisional;
- convention travel document (CTD), certificate of identity document (CID) or stateless person document (SPD);
- EU identity card;
- immigration status document endorsed with a UK residence permit on a passport with a photo; or
- biometric residence permit.
You will also be required to pay the test fee, which is £50 for each attempt. Note the fee is non-refundable if you fail the test.
Preparing for the British citizenship test
The test questions will all be taken at random from the official handbook for the Life in the UK Test.
This means it is possible, and advisable, to prepare in advance. Applicants usually fail simply because of a lack of preparation.
The handbook contains information relating to specific topics that will be covered in the test:
- UK history
- The British government
- UK geography
- Local culture
The handbook also contains sample questions and answers, as well as study guides that can help you pass the test. Preparing in advance will give you the best chance of passing the test, and enabling you to move on to the next stage of your settlement application with the Home Office.
Sitting the British citizenship test
- Arrive early for the test, allowing at least 15 minutes for the identity check before your test starts. You should allow around 2 hours in total to be at the test centre.
- At the test centre, before you can sit the test, you will need to present the ID used when you made the booking.
- You will have just under 2 minutes to answer each question. This allows you time to read the question carefully and consider all of the multiple-choice answers.
- Some of the questions will have more than one correct answer, in which case you will need to select all of the right answers.
Exemptions to the British citizenship test
Generally speaking, individuals aged 18-64 are required to sit the British citizenship test as part of their settlement application. There are however a number of exceptions. You will not have to sit the British citizenship test if you:
- are under 18 or over 65;
- have passed it before; or
- have a long-term physical or mental condition, which you must confirm with a letter from a doctor.
If you have already passed the test, for example as part of a previous indefinite leave to remain application, you are not required to take the test again for naturalisation. You will however be required to submit the original pass notification letter with your citizenship application. You will need to contact the Home Office if you have lost your letter.
Seeking legal advice
There are a number of important reasons why we recommend seeking professional legal advice. In particular:
- The British citizenship application process is complex, and costly. There is a lot at stake in ensuring you follow the correct procedure and complete each stage as required.
- How will a change in your citizenship affect your dependants? If you are an EEA national naturalising as a British citizen, the rights of your dependants to come and live in the UK will be subject to more stringent restrictions. Seek advice to ensure you are aware of the full impact of naturalising as a UK citizen.
- Certain countries do not allow its citizens to hold dual citizenship. Do you know the standing of your country of origin?
- Your wider personal circumstances will dictate the settlement options open to you. For example, if you are a foreign investor on a Tier 1 investor visa, you may be able to pursue a fast-track application for citizenship before the general requirements.
The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.