Applying for citizenship

This is a short information page about applying for citizenship. The aim of this page is to set out the process of applying for citizenship and how your criminal record may affect the success of your application will be. It forms part of our information section on coming to (and staying) in the UK.


As part of applying for UK citizenship, there will be a check with Police and other authorities as part of the character check. You need to give details of all criminal convictions (this used to be just unspent convictions, but it now applies to all). This includes when applying for:

  • entry clearance
  • leave to enter
  • settlement and nationality

The decision maker is then entitled to rely on information about spent, as well as unspent, convictions when considering an application.

However, simply because they are entitled to take into account spent convictions, it doesn’t mean that it’s a bar.

For example, when it comes to applying for citizenship, there are guidelines in place for how your application would be treated if you have convictions.

The Home Office will consider the length of the sentence you were given, and when it was given. A brief table sets this out below.

More information

  1. For practical information – More information on coming to (and staying) in the UK
  2. To discuss this with others – Read and share your experiences on our online forum
  3. Questions – If you have any questions about this you can contact our helpline.
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