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British Citizenship Test: Applicants’ Guide

One of the mandatory requirements when applying to naturalise as a British citizen is that applicants pass the British citizenship test to prove their understanding and knowledge of British history, culture and politics.

This is in addition to having a language qualification in English at B1 CEFR or higher, or its equivalent.

The questions are taken from information in the official handbook for the Life in the UK Test. The citizenship test continues to attract criticism for the scope of topics and the random nature of the questions. Given what is at stake – the expense and time required to make a naturalisation application – applicants are advised to prepare well by familiarising themselves with the handbook.

 

Is the British citizenship test different to the Life in the UK test?

The British citizenship test and the Life in the UK test are the same; they both refer to the mandatory assessment of the applicant’s knowledge of British culture, geography, history and politics required for to make an application to naturalise as a British citizen. The test is sometimes also referred to as the Britishness test or the UK nationality test.

In addition to the British Life in the UK test, citizenship applicants may also need to pass the English language test, as we explain below.

 

What is the British citizenship handbook?

You will be tested on information in the official handbook for the Life in the UK Test.

The handbook has information about:

  • UK history
  • The British government
  • UK geography
  • Local culture

 

All questions in the test are taken at random from the handbook. It also contains sample questions and answers, as well as study guides that can help you pass the test. Practising questions from the handbook is effective in improving pass rates.

British citizenship test practice questions are widely available online and you are encouraged to practise to prepare for the test.

The handbook is available in various formats, including online as an ebook or in elearning format, as an audio book or as a printed book.

 

How many questions are on the British citizenship exam?

There are 24 multiple choice questions taken from the Life in the UK handbook, on subjects such as British customs, traditions, laws and the political system.

 

How long does the test last?

You will have 45 minutes to answer all 24 questions. You should allow two hours for being at the test centre, to allow time to arrive, verify your ID documents, to sit the test, await the results and receive your pass/fail certificate.

You will find out the result after the test and will be issued either a pass or fail certificate.

In total, you should allow 2 hours for the entire process, including identity checks on arrival and 45 minutes for the test itself.

 

What do I need to bring with me to the citizenship test?

Before you can take the test, you must first prove your identity. You will be required to take the same identity documents used to make the online appointment in order to go through an identification process when you arrive. To establish your address, You will also require proof of address in original form.

 

When will I find out my results?

You will find out the result after the test and will be issued either a pass or fail certificate.

 

What score do you need to pass the British nationality test?

You have to answer at least 18 questions correctly to pass – ie you will need to score at least 75% to pass the test.

 

What are the British citizenship test exemptions?

Anyone applying for British citizenship or to settle in the UK must take the Life in the UK test, unless you qualify under one of the following exemptions:

  • You are under 18 or 65 or over
  • You have a long-term physical or mental condition, which you must confirm with a letter from a doctor.
  • You have already passed the Life in the UK test, for example as part of your ILR application.

 

Do ILR holders have to sit the British citizenship test?

If you passed the Life in the UK test as part of your ILR application, it won’t be necessary to take the test again for your citizenship application.

You will instead submit your Life in the UK test certificate as proof you have satisfied the mandatory requirement.

 

How much is the British citizenship test?

The British citizenship test costs £50 to sit.

This fee is non-refundable if you fail, or if you attempt to book at a test centre that is not local to your home address.

 

Where do I take the British citizenship test?

There are around thirty test centres in the UK. You will be asked to select one closest to where you live. You must bring proof of your address to the test.

If the centre is not close to where you live, you will not be allowed to sit the test and you will not get a refund.

 

How do I book my British citizenship test?

Book the test online at least three days in advance of the date you want to take it. In order to book, you will need to provide a valid email address, debit or credit card and an acceptable form of ID:

  • valid passport
  • valid travel document with a photo (you cannot use an emergency travel document)
  • biometric residence permit
  • biometric residence card

 
If you do not have any of these documents, you should email nationalityenquiries@homeoffice.gov.uk.

Use the exact name on your ID when making your booking.

 

If you have a disability

When booking your test, you can make special requests to support with your disability when you book your test, for example if you have a disability and need extra equipment or help accessing the centre.

 

What happens if I pass the test?

If you pass, you will be able to use your Life in the UK certificate to proceed with your application for ILR or citizenship.

 

Does the British citizenship test certificate expire?

This certificate has no expiry date, and can be used for all future UK immigration applications. Keep the certificate in a safe. If lost or misplaced, you may have to take the test again if your application requires.

 

Can I retake the British citizenship test?

Yes, if you fail the test you will be permitted to resit. You will need to wait seven days to take the test again, and you will have to pay the fee each time you sit the test. There is no limit to how many times you can resit the test.

 

Does the British citizenship test certificate expire?

This certificate has no expiry date, and can be used for all future UK immigration applications.

 

Can I retake the British citizenship test?

Yes, if you fail the test you will be permitted to resit. There is no limit to th number of time you can resit the test. However, you will need to wait seven days to take the test again. You will also have to pay the £50 test fee each time you sit the test.

 

English language test

As well as the Life in the UK test, naturalisation applicants may also need to pass certain other tests to prove their eligibility for British citizenship. British citizenship applicants have to prove their English language capability and proficiency, unless they come under an exemption.

Applicants aged 65 or over and those with long-term mental or physical conditions are exempt from the English language requirement.

In addition, applicants from one of the following countries are also exempt on the basis

Because the language requirement also applies to indefinite leave to remain applications, most naturalisation applicants have already met and proven their language capability as part of their settlement application.

You must be able to demonstrate that you have sufficient knowledge of the English language, specifcally that you can read, write, speak, and understand English at the necessary level, in order to satisfy the English language requirement.

You can prove that you fulfil the English language requirement in a number of different ways, by either:

  • Taking and passing an approved English proficiency test with a score of B1, B2, C1, or C2
  • Providing documentary evidence of an English-taught or English-based degree
  • Proving you are a national of an exempt country.

 
Further exemptions are available for settlement applicants, but not for naturalisation applicants. As such, if you were exempt from the language requirement for your ILR application, you may still need to show your language proficiency for your citizenship application.

Failure to provide acceptable forms of evidence can result in a refused citizenship application.

 

Exempt nationalities

If you are from one of the following countries, you will not need to meet the English language requirement for British citizenship:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • Ireland (for citizenship only)
  • Malta
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • USA

 
If you are from a country that is not on this exemption list, you will have to prove your language proficiency, even if English is the official language of your country.

 

Passing English language test

You must take an English language exam to fulfil the requirement if you are not exempt and don’t have an appropriate degree. You will need to take an approved test that assesses your speaking and listening abilities, known as a Secure English Language Test (SELT) at the B1, B2, C1, or C2 level.

If you reside in the UK, the following companies are authorised to administer English citizenship tests:

  • IELTS SELT Consortium
  • LanguageCert
  • Pearson
  • Trinity College London

 
The authorised test providers for those who are not in the UK are:

  • IELTS SELT Consortium
  • LanguageCert
  • Pearson
  • PSI Services (UK)

 
In most situations, you have to have successfully completed your English language exam within the two years before to applying for British citizenship. When making a citizenship application, you may demonstrate that you passed the test by giving either the specific reference number assigned to the exam or a copy of your test results.

 

English language degree

If you have an English-taught degree that you can use to prove you speak the language well enough, you will not need to take an English language exam.

If you want to use your degree to satisfy the English language requirement, it must have been obtained from a UK institution or a university in a nation with an English-speaking majority.

If the degree is from the UK, you must submit your original degree certificate; if not, you must submit a copy of your degree certificate along with an Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUALS) from Ecctis attesting that your degree is equivalent to a UK qualification and an English Language Proficiency Statement (ELPS) attesting that the degree was taught in English.

 

Need assistance?

DavidsonMorris is a law firm specialising in UK immigration. We help individuals through the naturalisation process and provide guidance on completing the form and compiling supporting documentation. If you have a question about an application for British citizenship, please contact us.

 

British citizenship test FAQs

How hard is the British citizenship test?

It is advisable to prepare for the test by using the official Life in the UK test and practising potential questions. You can retake the test as many times as you need, but you will have to pay test fee for each sitting.

How many questions are on the British citizenship test?

There are 24 questions on the Life in the UK test. You have to get 18 correct to pass.

Which test do I need for UK citizenship?

British citizenship applicants have to pass the Life in the UK test. This is a computer-based multiple choice test about UK laws, history, culture and politics.

Does life in UK test expire?

There is no expiry on the Life in the UK test, while the English language test results last for two years.

 
Last updated: 18 October 2022

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