If you’re from outside the UK and you want to apply for citizenship or indefinite leave to remain (ILR), you may have to pass an English language test and the Life in the UK Test. Here’s everything you need to know about these tests.

Person standing on citizen test books and a citizenship certificate holding trophy

The Life in the UK Test

As part of your application for British citizenship or indefinite leave to remain (ILR) you will have to take a Life in the UK Test. The purpose of the test is to evaluate your knowledge of the UK. If you are under the age of 18 or over the age of 65 you don’t have to take the test.

EEA citizens are now required to take the Life in the UK Test when applying for UK citizenship.

People living with disability can make special requests when booking their tests. They should email sensitivebookings@homeoffice.gov.uk before making a booking for more instructions

You must score above 75% on the Life in the UK Test to be successful in your ILR or citizenship application. You have 45 minutes to answer 24 questions based on information in the official handbook for the Life in the UK Test.

For the Life in the UK Test, you will need:

  • An email address
  • An accepted form of ID
  • A debit or credit card to pay the £50 fee

Acceptable forms of ID include:

  • Valid passport
  • Valid travel document with a photo
  • Biometric residence permit
  • Biometric residence card

Here are a few examples of questions that could come up in the test:

  • Who built the Tower of London?
  • Wales united with England during the reign of Henry VIII. True or false?
  • Which record tells us about England during the reign of William I?
  • Which religion celebrates Diwali?
  • When walking your dog in a public place, what must you ensure?

The questions will be varied, so make sure you take the time to prepare adequately.

How to prep for the Life in the UK Test

The UK home office has a website devoted to the sale of learning material for the Life in the UK Test. Applicants can purchase guide books and question and answer books for their upcoming test. There are e-learning options as well.

The English language test

If you’re applying for indefinite leave to remain, you may need to take the English language test. This applies both to those who are married to UK citizens and those who are not.

The English language test result is valid for two years from the date the test is awarded. If you wait longer than two years between obtaining ILR and applying for citizenship, you will have to take the test again. If you have a B1 English qualification that was accepted when settling in the UK, it can be used again in your citizenship application.

EEA nationals are now required to take the English language test when applying for UK citizenship.

Do I need to take the UK English language test?

You will be exempt from writing the English language test if you’re a citizen of:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Ireland (for citizenship only)
  • Jamaica
  • Malta
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • USA

You also do not have to prove your knowledge of English if you are:

  • Aged 65 or over
  • Under the age of 18
  • Unable to because of a long-term physical or mental condition

It’s important to check with an immigration adviser on whether you are required to take a language test.

People living with disabilities can make special requests when booking their tests. They should email sensitivebookings@homeoffice.gov.uk before making a booking for more instructions.

If you’ve studied in the UK

You can prove your language ability if you have:

  • An English qualification at B1 (intermediate English), B2 (upper-intermediate English), C1 (advanced English) or C2 (proficient English) level.
  • A degree taught or researched in English. The degree cannot be vocational and must be academic. If the degree was not obtained in a UK institution, you will need to provide an Academic Qualification Level Statement to prove the degree is at a standard acceptable to the UK standard.

About the UK English language test

There are two variations to the English language test depending on the immigration routes. The application routes which require the speaking and listening English test:

  • Indefinite leave to remain
  • Citizenship
  • Sportsperson visa
  • Representative of an Overseas Business
  • Partner visa
  • Parent visa

The application routes which require the reading, writing, speaking, and listening English test:

What to bring to the test

A form of identification needs to be taken to the test site. This applies to test sites inside and outside of the UK. The list of valid identification includes:

  • Passports
  • UK Biometric Residence Permit
  • UK Biometric Residence Card
  • Convention travel document
  • Stateless persons travel document

How to prep for the English language test

A great way to pass the spoken and listening parts of the English language test is through practice. If you are not confident in these areas, it will be beneficial to learn from the local population. Speaking to other native English speakers will improve your skills while also helping learn a conversational approach rather than language learnt from textbooks or study material.

Our tips to help with your English language test

The language test is a predominately verbal test that aims to evaluate your speaking and listening ability, and if you’re able to communicate in English.

You will be sitting with an interviewer, so it’s important that your answers are as clear as possible, particularly if you have a heavy accent.

The other part of the test is the listening exercise. Remember to relax and to pay attention to what is being said. While talking to your interviewer, don’t be afraid to ask questions and give your opinion if he or she says something interesting, remember it is more of a conversation.

It is important that you are tested at an approved testing centre. If you don’t do this, your results won’t be recognised by the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). This will lead to delays and extra costs on account of you having to reapply.


No matter how complex your case, our citizenship and immigration consultants can help you every step of the way. Contact our team on +44 (0) 207 759 5330 or at immigration@sableinternational.com

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