Life in the UK Test for ILR & British Citizenship


If you’re applying for UK Indefinite Leave to Remain 

The Life in the UK Test is mandatory for individuals applying for UK Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). As well as passing the Life in the UK test, ILR eligibility criteria require you to also have a speaking and listening qualification in English at B1 CEFR level or higher, or equivalent.

Tel con brit

A number of exemptions can apply. You will not need to take the Life in the UK test if you:

  • Are under 18 years of age or over 65; or
  • Are suffering from a long-term illness or disability that severely restricts your mobility and ability to attend language classes; or
  • Have a mental impairment which means that you are unable to learn another language.

To qualify for the exemption, you need to complete the online exemption form or provide a letter from a doctor confirming your condition. Visual or hearing impairments are unlikely to exempt you from the test.

Guidance states that “Life in the UK test centres can cater for a variety of disabilities, such as blindness. An applicant may be able to do the test even if they produce evidence of a disability”. As such, you should contact your local test centre when booking your test to make a request to accommodate your disability or specific needs.

Note that illiteracy is not an acceptable ground for exemption.

If you’re applying for British Citizenship / Naturalisation

The Life in the UK Test is a mandatory requirement for British citizenship.

The requirement to demonstrate knowledge of life and language in the UK is stated in the law, as such very few exemptions apply to the life in the UK test for citizenship applicants.

In fact, if you were exempt from taking the test when applying for ILR, you may now be required to pass the test.

You may be exempt when applying for citizenship if you:

  • Have already passed the Life in the UK test as part of your ILR application;
  • Are under 18 or over 65 years of age;
  • Are suffering from a long-term illness or disability that severely restricts your mobility and ability to attend language classes; or
  • Have a mental impairment which means that you are unable to learn another language.

Again, any health grounds for exemption must be confirmed in writing by a doctor or by completing the exemption form.

Note that there are no exemptions based on qualifications, long residence or financial means. Nationals of English speaking countries must also sit the test, although the English language requirement may not be necessary. Take advice on what the Home Office will accept in your circumstances.

Illiteracy is not an acceptable ground for exemption.

What is the Life in the UK test?

You have 45 minutes to complete the Life in the UK test. The test involves answering 24 multiple choice questions on areas of British life, traditions, politics and customs.

The pass mark is 75%, or 18 correct answers.

You will find out at the end of the test if you have passed.

Once you have passed, you can proceed with your application for ILR or citizenship.

How do I book my Life in the UK test?

You book the Life in the UK test online. There are around 60 test centres in the UK. You are able to select one of the five closest to where you live. You are not able to take the test outside of these centres. You must bring proof of your address to the test.

To book, you will need to confirm your ID using:

  • passport;
  • 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 must book your Life in the UK Test online at least 3 days in advance.

Preparing for the Life in the UK test

The vast majority of failed tests are the result of poor preparation.

All questions in the test are taken from random from the official handbook for the Life in the UK Test. The handbook contains sample questions and answers, as well as study guides to help you practice the test.

You will be tested on the following areas:

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

The 24 questions are selected at random with each test, although they will all be taken from the handbook.

What happens if I pass the test?

If you pass, you will need your pass notification letter from the Life in the UK test centre. Attach this to your completed the application form and submit it to the Home Office for processing.

What happens if I fail the test?

If you don’t pass the test, you will lose the test fee and be unable to progress with your Home Office application.

You are allowed to retake the test after seven days. There is no restriction on the number of resits you can take.

Does the Life in the UK test expire? 

Once you have passed the Life in the UK test, it will not expire.

What if you lose your pass notification letter?

Contact the Home Office directly if you have lost your pass notification letter. If you can locate your test ID number, give this to the Home Office to find the electronic record of your certificate. If can’t find either your pass notification letter or your test ID number, you may be required to sit the test again and also pay the fee.


Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500 and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

Legal Disclaimer

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 at the time of writing, 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.

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