Who can be a referee for British citizenship application

Applicants for British citizenship have to provide signed declarations from two suitable referees. Each referee needs to confirm that the applicant’s personal details in the application form are correct and the applicant’s photograph attached to the referee’s declaration is a true likeness of the applicant.

To be accepted by the Home Office as suitable, your chosen referees have to meet the specific requirements from Home Office guidance.

Who to choose as your referee for Naturalisation

The Home Office requirements that referees have to meet may create problems for some applicants to find suitable ones. However, from our experience ultimately all applicants are able to find two suitable referees for their British citizenship application. Link to accepted professions for referees is here listofreferees.pdf (gov.im) and link to the Referee Declaration is here Microsoft Word – MN1 and AN Referee declaration TP[1].docx (visas-immigration.service.gov.uk).

Two referees for British citizenship application

The first important requirement is that both referees for British citizenship application by naturalisation should have known the applicant personally for at least three years. This requirement does not apply to child applicants.

One referee has to be of professional standing, for example a solicitor, accountant, registered nurse, minister of religion, director of a limited company, who does not have to be a British citizen. It cannot be a solicitor who assists you with your Naturalisation application, nor a solicitor who you do not know personally.

Second referee has to be a British passport holder and either a professional person, or over the age of 25.

Referee Declarations should be signed no more than 30 days before the application is submitted. Therefore, you should ask the Referees to sign the Declaration forms shortly before submitting the application. This will save you the inconvenience of asking your referees for their signatures again.

When to sign Referee Declarations

Who can be a referee for child British citizenship application

For a child British citizenship application by Registration, one referee has to know the applicant child in a professional capacity, such as a teacher, minister of religion, social worker. There is no specific requirement that referees have to know the child for 3 years.

referees in naturalisation uk
Note that the referee cannot be  in a professional relationship with the applicant. Therefore an immigration lawyer who is helping an applicant with naturalisation application cannot be this applicant's referee. 

Referees are liable for criminal prosecution if they have been involved in attempts to deceive, for example, by deliberately making false statements about the length and nature of their acquaintance with the apploicant.

A list of requirements for referees:

  • he must not be a relative
  • he must not be a solicitor or agent representing you on this application
  • he must not be related to the other referee
  • he must not be employed by the Home Office
  • he must not have been convicted of an imprisonable offence during the last 10 years (unless that conviction can be disregarded in line with the table shown in the Guide)
  • he must have known the applicant personally
  • he must be willing to give full details of their knowledge of the applicant;
  • he must advise the Home Office of any reason why the applicant should not be registered.

Referees for naturalisation application from abroad

If Naturalisation application is submitted from abroad, and applicant does not know a British person who can be a referee for Naturalisation application, you can use a citizen of another country. You must ensure that this referee is:

  • over 25 or has a professional standing in that country
  • has known the applicant for three years
  • the Consul considers his/her signature to be acceptable

The requirement for the referee to have known personally the applicant for at least three years prior to application for naturalisation applies only to adult applicants.

Application for naturalisation as a British citizen is an important and significant event and therefore the application should be prepared thoroughly before submitting to Home Office. You may wish to seek help and guidance from a professional immigration adviser. An experienced immigration lawyer can make the difference between an application being accepted or refused and also save you money as the naturalisation application fee is high . We provide professional assistance with immigration and nationality matters and we can help you with preparing your application or you can instruct us to review the application that you prepare yourself before it is submitted.

Call us Call us about any immigration matter on your mobile or dial +4402034889710.

Naturalisation checklist
What to check before applying for naturalisation.
Absences (last 5 yrs, or 3yrs if married to British)
ILR for 1 year before applying (unless married to British)
Present in the UK 5 years or 3 years back (as applicable)
Have the intention for your main home to be in the UK
Good character (last 10 yrs)
Immigration history and legal residence
Are you managing your finances responsibly
CCJ (County Court Judgements)
Benefits fraud
Criminality and traffic offences and their impact on application
Council tax debt and non-payment
Two suitable Referees
Application form completed with attention to detail and honesty
English language requirement
Life in the UK test

Referee for British passport application

After a successful naturalisation application and receipt of your naturalisation certificate, you would need to apply for your first British passport. For the passport application you would be asked for a referee details. The chosen referee must meet the below requirements:

  • have known you (or the adult who signed the form if the passport is for a child under 16) for at least 2 years
  • be able to identify you, for example they’re a friend, neighbour or colleague (not just someone who knows you professionally)
  • be ‘a person of good standing in their community’ or work in (or be retired from) a recognised profession

Who cannot be your referee for British passport application

As a general point to note, the Passport Office is usually more strict in their assessment if the chosen referee meets their requirements. It is therefore important to pay even more attention at this stage to who you choose for your referee to avoid delays with your passport application.

You cannot ask someone to be your referee for passport application if the person is:

  • related to them by birth or marriage
  • in a relationship with or live at the same address as them

If you’re applying in the UK

Your referee must:

  • live in the UK
  • have a current British or Irish passport

Examples of recognised professions include:

  • accountant
  • airline pilot
  • articled clerk of a limited company
  • assurance agent of recognised company
  • bank or building society official
  • barrister
  • chairman or director of a limited company
  • chiropodist
  • commissioner for oaths
  • councillor, for example local or county
  • civil servant (permanent)
  • dentist
  • director, manager or personnel officer of a VAT-registered company
  • engineer with professional qualifications
  • financial services intermediary, for example a stockbroker or insurance broker
  • fire service official
  • funeral director
  • insurance agent (full time) of a recognised company
  • journalist
  • Justice of the Peace
  • legal secretary (fellow or associate member of the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs)
  • licensee of a public house
  • local government officer
  • manager or personnel officer of a limited company
  • member, associate or fellow of a professional body
  • Member of Parliament
  • Merchant Navy officer
  • minister of a recognised religion (including Christian Science)
  • nurse (RGN or RMN)
  • officer of the armed services
  • optician
  • paralegal (certified paralegal, qualified paralegal or associate member of the Institute of Paralegals)
  • person with honours, for example an OBE or MBE
  • pharmacist
  • photographer (professional)
  • police officer
  • Post Office official
  • president or secretary of a recognised organisation
  • Salvation Army officer
  • social worker
  • solicitor
  • surveyor
  • teacher or lecturer
  • trade union officer
  • travel agent (qualified)
  • valuer or auctioneer (fellow or associate members of the incorporated society)
  • Warrant Officers and Chief Petty Officers

If you’re applying outside the UK

Your countersignatory must have a current British, Irish or other EU, US or Commonwealth passport.

If they have a US, Commonwealth, or non-British or non-Irish EU passport, you must include with your application a colour photocopy of the page with their photograph on it.

Your application will be processed faster if they have a British or Irish passport.