Royal Wedding: Here's what Meghan Markle has to do to become a British citizen

Royal wedding: What will Meghan Markle have to do to become a British citizen?

Meghan Markle is to become a British citizen

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

As part of the latest Royal Wedding reveal, Kensington Palace has announced that Meghan Markle will become a British citizen.

Yep, sorry to our American readers, but she's crossing sides and coming over to us (rumours that we were considering offloading Piers Morgan to America in exchange proved unfounded, however).

The palace hasn't confirmed when the process of assimilation will be complete. All we know is that it'll take several years.

But what exactly will be involved?

Reports claim it will take Markle several years to become a citizen, so if we assume she will go through the same process as others wanting to become a British citizen, the glamorous Suits actress has quite a bit of work ahead of her.

The most common way of becoming a British citizen is through a process called naturalisation which costs £1,282. Applications can be made individually, or through a representative who can help and provide advice.

In order to apply through naturalisation, you must be over 18, continue to live in the UK and be of good character - meaning you don't have a recent or serious criminal record. It's hard to imagine Markle will have any problems here.

Usually you must also have lived in the UK for the past five years, and you can't have left the country for any more than 450 days over that period, or spent more than 90 days out of the country in the 12 months before your application. If you're from outside the European Economic Area, as Markle is, you also need indefinite leave to remain for the last 12 months.

Markle's case is slightly easier, however. Because she is marrying a British citizen, she is only required to live in the UK for three years before she is eligible for citizenship. In this time she must not spend more than 270 days outside the UK and must not spend more than 90 days outside the UK in the last 12 months before her application.

This may be a stretch given Markle's likely Royal duties, and it seems almost certain that she'll have to give up her acting commitments as part of the deal.

After meeting the residency requirements it gets a bit tougher, as applicants must pass a Life in the UK Test. This includes 24 questions about British traditions and customs which must be answered in 45 minutes (although, given she's marrying into the Royal Family, Markle will have a bit of help with this one).

It costs £50 to take the test and in order to pass you must get 75% or more right. If you fail the test you must pay again to have another go and wait seven days between tests. The good news, however, is that you can take as many as you like.

Some have to take part in a language test but as Markle is from America, she will not need to do this. Apparently their version of English meets the basic requirements.

As part of the application you also have to provide biometric information, this includes fingerprints and a photo. Whilst this is only kept until you attend a citizenship ceremony, you do have to pay £19.20 for it.

After the application is submitted a confirmation of receipt is sent within four weeks. Then a decision on citizenship is made within six months, although sometimes it can take longer than this, as you may need to give more information or even attend an interview. 

Successful applicants can then attend a citizenship ceremony, which can run by local councils. It costs £80 to attend, but on the plus side you are entitled to bring two guests. Not only that but you can request a private ceremony, which might be more appropriate for the new Princess.

During the ceremony you must make an oath of allegiance or an affirmation, promising to respect all freedoms, laws and rights of the UK. After the ceremony new citizens are given a certificate as well as a welcome pack.

You might think it all ends there, but after the ceremony you have to send back your biometric residence permit, which must be cut into four pieces in a windowless envelope and sent within five working days of the ceremony, or receipt of the citizenship certificate. If you don't do this you can be fined up to £1,000.

Whether Markle is allowed to skip a few stages of the process, or is allowed to bypass it altogether, remains to be seen - but as things stand it looks like she's going to have to go through at least part of the rigmarole, meaning she may have to start swotting up with her future in-laws.