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Criteria and qualifications

Applications for naturalisation or registration as a British citizen are considered under the provisions of the British Nationality Act 1981.

The decision is at the discretion of the Lieutenant Governor and is based on statutory criteria such as residence, language, knowledge of life in the UK and Islands and good character.

The requirements include – but are not limited to:

  • Meeting the required residential requirements for your application type
  • Satisfying the good character requirement 
  • Satisfying the English speaking and listening requirements
  • Satisfying the knowledge of life in the United Kingdom and Islands requirement
  • Demonstrating that the applicant intends to have their home in the Isle of Man/British Isles

The Home Office also provide the following publications setting out the various requirements for British citizenship. All applicants should read these before making an application to ensure that they meet each appropriate requirement to avoid having their application refused:

More specific information on each requirement can be viewed on the Home Office website.

Abiding by immigration law is a compulsory requirement for foreign nationals (excluding EU Nationals). Making an application to acquire British citizenship is a voluntary decision made by the applicant. There is no requirement to apply and no right of acquisition.

Since 28 October 2013 those persons seeking to apply to naturalise as British citizens are required  to pass a Knowledge of Life in the UK and Islands test and have a speaking and listening qualification in English at B1 CEFR (Common European Framework of References for Languages) or higher. Applicants who are nationals of a majority English speaking country or who have obtained an academic degree taught in English are considered automatically to meet the English language requirement.

The new requirements are to encourage those wishing to become British citizens to demonstrate their commitment by learning English and have an understanding of British history, culture and traditions.

Knowledge of life in the UK and Islands

The citizenship test is based on the handbooks 'Life in the United Kingdom' and 'Life in the Isle of Man'. It is otherwise known as the Life in the UK and Islands test.

You can download the application form to take the Life in the UK and Islands test at University College Isle of Man.

You can also purchase a supplement to 'Life in the United Kingdom: A Journey to Citizenship' called 'Life in the Isle of Man' from the Isle of Man Passport and Immigration Office. This is currently priced at £2.50.

Approved English language qualifications

You can prove your knowledge of the English language by having either:

  • an English qualification at B1 level or higher which is on the Home Office approved list
  • a degree taught or researched in English

Alternatively you may be considered exempt from the need to prove your knowledge of English, by meeting the criteria set by the Home Office. You are encouraged to check the English Language requirements issued by the UK Government to ensure that your English Language qualification is recognised.

Please visit the Home Office website for further details.

If you do not qualify, you can take a Secure English Language Test on the island. See below.

IELTS Secure English Language Test   

The IELTS speaking and listening tests are run by the British Council. The test itself is taken at University College Isle of Man, however the college does not take bookings for or deal with questions around these tests. They merely provide a venue from which the test is taken. They will be unable to help you if you contact them about this test.

To book a place for a test, you must do this online at the IELTS website. Follow the link to apply and register: IELTS English speaking & listening test

Any questions or further guidance needed relating to the Secure English Language Test should be directed to the British Council using their website: British Council FAQ’s.

Visit IELTS to view the next known examination dates.


All applications for naturalisation or registration as a British citizen must be supported by two referees. In order to be accepted as a referee, the person must fulfil the following criteria:

  • They must have known the applicant for at least three years
  • At least one referee must hold a British passport
  • At least one referee must be a professional person. A list of acceptable professions is available in the Downloadable Documents section at the top right of this page.

Referees cannot:

  • be related to the applicant,
  • be related to each other,
  • be the applicant’s legal adviser or agent representing them with the application
  • be employed by the Home Office or the Isle of Man Passport, Immigration and Nationality Office
  • have been convicted of an imprisonable offence during the past ten years for which the sentence is not spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 2001.

For children’s applications, the referees are required to know the child personally but there is no requirement for how long they have known the child, for example due to being an infant. At least one of the referees should know the child in a professional capacity, such as a teacher, health visitor, social worker or minister of religion.

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