Following up on How do i get a British citizenship?, I realised that one of the requirements is

you’ll continue to live in the UK

When googling for the question I'm asking here, unofficial answers mention that once someone gets the citizenship, it's forever, irrespectively of where you (permanently) live. So, which of the two is true?

  • The other issue to remember is that some countries will not allow you to hold dual citizenship. Thus to become a citizen of some other countries, you will be required to give up your British citizenship. Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 17:02
  • That's useful to know, thanks for pointing it out.
    – ilakast
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 17:44
  • 1
    Just to add one extra bit of info on my own question: "Your UK citizenship will not be affected if you move or retire abroad." Source: gov.uk/moving-or-retiring-abroad
    – ilakast
    Commented Jun 25, 2014 at 23:44

2 Answers 2


The requirement is one of intent.

Once granted citizenship, you are a UK citizen with all the rights that go with that - including the right to leave the UK, should you so choose.

If that is your intention from the start, then you would not meet the requirements to be granted citizenship.

By applying for citizenship, you are asserting that you do indeed intend to stay in the UK.

  • 2
    It's worth pointing out that circumstances change, and what you intend today may not be what you intend in six months time. However, in your other post you say "I want to move to [the UK]", so it is certainly your intention to stay there right now.
    – Scott Earle
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 3:17
  • Thanks for that. Actually, the other post is not by me. I am already living in the UK 4 years now, so I am thinking of applying for naturalisation in the near future.
    – ilakast
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 17:43


Currently, yes, a naturalised British Citizen can live anywhere in the world without losing UK citizenship - so long as they intended to live in the United Kingdom when they requested and were granted citizenship.

There's a strong precedent for this structure to remain intact, but the rules may of course change as the political situation changes.

The most useful reference documentation on this is the UKBA Precedent Based Scenarios document (see the PDF on that page, section 8: 'Deprivation' on page 25 (PDF Page 26)). Unfortunately the document is quite old, and doesn't take into account certain recent developments.

The Importance of Intent

It's important that a person seeking naturalisation intend to remain in the UK. They should have "thrown in their lot" with the UK, and be intending to live in the UK for the rest of their life. In short, the oath of loyalty is more than a formality, and British Citizenship shouldn't be considered a tool to be acquired.

In certain circumstances, people have claimed and been provisionally granted citizenship, only to have it revoked because they have left the country before they took the oath. For more examples of this, see the "Precedent Based Scenarios" document referred to above. Specifically relevant sections are "NATURALISATION S. 6(1): FUTURE INTENTIONS" on page 46 (PDF page 47), and "OATH OF ALLEGIANCE" on page 70 (PDF page 71).

Once legitimately gained, though, citizenship is not currently stripped when people leave the UK for any length of time. This includes leaving the UK permanently.

Scenarios where Citizenship is Lost

The technical term for this type of loss of citizenship is "deprivation of citizenship".

Deprivation of citizenship is taken very seriously, and occurs very seldom. Between 2002 and 2013, 37 people were deprived of their British Citizenship. Generally, this occurs only in a fairly limited set of scenarios. One of the key considerations is whether retention of citizenship is for "the public good", and this is decided on a case-by-case basis.

Examples of Loss

For further details, see the "Deprivation" section of the UKBA Precedent Based Scenarios document linked above.

  1. Espionage. There is a long history of spies for foreign governments being deprived of their British citizenship.
  2. Terrorism - this is currently the fastest-increasing reason for loss of citizenship (source)
  3. Serious criminal activity (often where British citizenship is being used as a tool to further the criminal activity), including:
    • Cases of serious fraud and smuggling, where British citizenship is used to help further illegal operations.
    • Certain cases of bigamous marriage have been considered for deprivation, though my understanding is that cases did not progress.
    • Various other serious criminal convictions.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.