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The Citizenship Ceremony

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 26 Apr 2019 | comments*Discuss
The Citizenship Ceremony

The Purpose of the UK Citizenship Ceremony

Prior to 2004 acquiring British citizenship was an extremely low key affair with very little to mark what, for many people, is a momentous day in their lives. It was decided that more should be done to emphasise the significance and value of becoming a British citizen. One of the innovations that was introduced was a citizenship ceremony that all new British citizens are obliged to attend.

The main formal purpose of the ceremony is that this is when new citizens swear their oath of allegiance and receive their certificate of naturalisation. Previously the oath was sworn in front of a solicitor and the certificate was posted to the new citizen. However, it is also a stated purpose of the ceremony that it is a way of welcoming new citizens into the community. The first citizenship ceremony took place in February 2004 in Brent, London when 19 people officially became British citizens. Citizenship ceremonies usually take place in the Register Office or Town Hall for the new citizen’s area.

Invitation to the UK Citizenship Ceremony

When a foreign national successfully applies to become a British citizen the notice informing them of this will also contain an invitation to attend a citizenship ceremony. Attendance is not, however, optional. To comply with the rules all new British citizens must attend a citizenship ceremony within 90 days of receiving their invitation. The invitation will contain contact-details for the local authority of the area in which the new British citizen lives. Children who become British Citizens when they are under the age of 18 do not have to attend a citizenship ceremony or swear an oath of allegiance.

Most citizenship ceremonies take place in the local area but there is some provision for a ceremony to be arranged elsewhere. People who wish there citizenship ceremony to take place away from the local area should notify the UK Border Agency of this when they make their application for citizenship. New citizens may bring two guests to the ceremony.

Citizenship ceremonies will usually be arranged for several people at the same time. It is possible to arrange a private ceremony but some local authorities may charge an additional fee for this. New British citizens attending their citizenship ceremony should take photo identification and their letter of invitation with them.

The Oath of Allegiance and the Pledge

All new citizens have to swear an oath of allegiance and make a pledge. The oath and pledge are said in English unless the ceremony is taking place in Wales where they may be said in Welsh.

The oath of allegiance is a way of swearing loyalty to the Monarch, which represents loyalty to the United Kingdom. The oath means swearing by God but those who do not have a religion may make a solemn affirmation of their allegiance instead. The pledge is a promise to respect and uphold the laws and values of the United Kingdom. The full wording for the oath (or affirmation) of allegiance and the pledge are available on the UK Border Agency website.

Other Components of the UK Citizenship Ceremony

In addition to swearing the oath and making the pledge there are likely to be other elements to the ceremony which will vary from area to area. These may include a speech of welcome by a local dignitary, such as the mayor. New citizens will be given the certificate confirming that they have been naturalised as British citizens as well as information about being a British citizen. The national anthem will be played and everyone at the ceremony will be expected to stand to show their respect for the United Kingdom and its head of state.

Whilst different authorities will have different rules it is likely that the new citizens and their guests will be allowed to photograph or video the ceremony. At some ceremonies food and drink may be served and the new citizens may be given a gift to commemorate the occasion.

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I'm unable to attend my british citizenship ceremony within the 90 day period due to an emergency travel. What options do I have? Can I request for an extension of the 90-day period? Do I have to do the citizenship application all over again?
Vikky - 26-Apr-19 @ 8:24 PM
@Matt - Your girlfriend is an EU citizen allowed to live and work in the UK without any restrictions. Upon arriving in the UK she should apply for a National Insurance number and register with a GP for an NHS number.
TJ. - 21-Feb-19 @ 10:15 AM
Hi, my girlfriend of nearly years wishes to come, live and work in the UK. She is from Belgium and is unable to find any information on what paperwork or forms she needs to fill in, in order to come over or wherever she can just move here and work since she is in the EU.
Matt - 19-Feb-19 @ 4:35 PM
My husband is Italian, he's been working over here since year 2000. We've been separated 6yrs.He is trying to make our children that were born here dual nationality. Can I stop him doing this. Are there any issues I should know about.
Moggy - 7-Apr-17 @ 11:19 AM
I was born in Italy in 1957 and moved to the uk in 1960. I would like to have dual nationality and obtain a british passport. Is my only route to take the citizenship test?
johnolly - 4-Apr-17 @ 10:15 AM
hello, i would like to know what is the difference of getting married with a person who has a travel document (indefinite leave to remain) and a person who is a citizen?
shil - 15-Jan-17 @ 7:17 PM
My grandson has dual English / Australian nationality. His English passport has expired,modes he need a visa to visit the Uk on his Australian passport and how long can he say in the UK.
Chris - 19-Sep-16 @ 12:02 PM
@sariff - The main requirement is that you must have resided six years in the UK including staying on Indefinite Leave to Remain for 12 months. With regards to the cost of fees, you can access the Government fee website which will give you a rundown of all costs here. I hope this helps.
AboutImmigration - 30-Oct-14 @ 11:30 AM
hi,,i am 68 yrs old .and my is 64 yrs old we been granted indefinite remain to leave in uk in march 2014 i would like to know if we can apply for a british passport in january 2015 an how much we have to pay?thank you sariff auckburaullee
sariff - 29-Oct-14 @ 8:44 PM
@Rakara - here is the Government website that should be able to help you with all your requirements. link here.
AboutImmigration - 24-Oct-14 @ 3:03 PM
I would like to know the procedures of applying for a British passport. I came here in 2001 and got my ILR in 2011.currently am studying management course at the University which should finish in 2016 .I do not have any passport or travel document. What is the best approach. Thanks very much
rakara - 24-Oct-14 @ 2:18 AM
My partners neice was born in UK but has lived in Australia since being a baby, she has dual nationality and has both an Australian and UK passport. Both her parents are now dead, she has no job or family in Australia and wants to return to the UK to be close to relatives.Would she be able to claim benefits if she were to move back to England?
Jules - 10-Aug-13 @ 11:28 PM
I am an Australian citizen but am wishing to work in the UK. Can I gain UK citizenship through my grandmother who is English but now lives in Australia and has done for about 40 years. Thanks Ash Gilbert
Ash - 21-Sep-12 @ 2:56 AM
A UK citizen can provide visa to their other national friends? Also they can work ,live as resident? What documentation requires to get a other national friend to UK
Bullet - 23-Aug-12 @ 9:44 AM
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