Good character requirement for nationality

If you would like to naturalise or register as a British citizen, you must satisfy the ‘good character’ requirement. Please note that the good character requirement applies to any person who is aged 10 or over at the date of application.

There are several factors that the Home Office will take into consideration when assessing the good character criteria under the 1981 British Nationality Act, such as:

  • Criminality
  • International crimes & terrorism
  • Financial soundness
  • Notoriety
  • Deception and dishonesty
  • Immigration-related offences
  • Deprivation


Criminality, International crimes & terrorism

You will most likely not be deemed of good character if you have been convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced in the UK or abroad. You could also be denied citizenship if it might be “reasonable” to presume that you have been involved in a serious crime.

Traffic/environmental/civil offences and fines could also result in the refusal of your nationality application. If you didn’t pay a fine or multiple fines and there were criminal proceedings as a result, your eligibility to naturalize might be delayed.

Financial soundness

You have to make sure that your financial and tax affairs are in order before you apply. Any unpaid council tax, bankruptcy or liquidation might jeopardize your prospective application for British citizenship. If you deliberately and recklessly built up debts and there is no evidence that you plan to re-pay them off, the Home Office will normally refuse your application.

Deception and dishonesty

The decision maker will normally refuse your application if you have been clearly dishonest in your dealings with another department of government (for example defrauding the benefits system or providing false details in order to obtain a driving licence).

Immigration-related issues

If you have had any immigration offences or a poor immigration history in the 10 years prior to your citizenship application, the Home Office will likely deny your application. This includes, for example, overstaying your visa, working illegally, evidence of a bogus/sham marriage, cheating in the “Life in the UK” test or English Language test, assisting others in entering the country illegally, evasion of immigration control, hiring illegal workers and so on.

On 14 January 2019, the Home Office updated the good character policy in relation to British nationality application.


The Home Office has stated that a prospective citizenship application will be refused if the applicant has had any period of overstaying in the last ten years preceeding the application, with some minor exceptions as listed below:

Under paragraph 39E of the Immigration Rules, the exceptions for overstayers applies where:

(1) the application was made within 14 days of the applicant’s leave expiring and the Secretary of State considers that there was a good reason beyond the control of the applicant or their representative, provided in or with the application, why the application could not be made in-time; or

(2) the application was made:

(a) following the refusal of a previous application for leave which was made in-time; and

(b) within 14 days of:

(i) the refusal of the previous application for leave; or

(ii) the expiry of any leave extended by section 3C of the Immigration Act 1971; or

(iii) the expiry of the time-limit for making an in-time application for administrative review or appeal (where applicable); or

(iv) any administrative review or appeal being concluded, withdrawn or abandoned or lapsing.

For more information in relation to the good character requirement, please contact us.

Contact Our Immigration Team

For expert advice regarding any aspect of British citizenship application, please contact our immigration team on 0203 384 3075 or contact us here.



The content of this article is for general use and information only. Since each case should be prepared on its own merit and in light of the constant amendments to the Immigration Rules, it is important to note that the information provided must not be relied upon unless Migra & Co has either given written consent or has been officially engaged in relation to a specific immigration matter. As a result, Migra & Co will take no responsibility for any damage, cost or loss resulting from relying on the information contained in this article, blog and website.

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