Your British Citizenship
Your application for British citizenship was successful. You booked your British citizenship ceremony and are anxiously waiting to attend. You are wondering what to expect.
Yes. You received a fact sheet sent to you by the Home Office. You are wondering how it is on the day.
My husband was awarded his British citizenship earlier this week and I was excited to attend the ceremony together with him. I was his guest.
Inviting Guests or Choosing a Private Ceremony
At the time of booking you will be able to choose a regular or a private ceremony.
Should you choose a regular ceremony, the ceremony fee was already paid at the time of your application. However, you will be limited in how many guests you can invite with you. Normally, you are limited to two guests for the ceremony.
You will be expected to pay extra for the private ceremony, but you will be able to invite more guests. You will be able to make it a special occasion to celebrate with your family and friends.
Citizenship Ceremony is a Formal Occasion
Formal citizenship ceremonies started to take place in 2004. It is a good way to remind and celebrate the long journey it may have taken some of the applicants in order to be successful. It is the ultimate gesture of welcome and inclusivity.
You are reminded that by choosing British citizenship you choose to live and uphold the values of the country. These values are democracy, the rule of law and tolerance.
We were told at the City of Westminster that successful applicants have originally come from over 200 countries. They were happy to embrace new British nationals who came from all over the world.
During the ceremony there were a couple of moments that I found very moving. One of them was when my husband’s country of origin was mentioned. There were people from at least 15 different countries on the day. Their countries of origin were mentioned on the day.
I very much enjoyed this gentle touch and genuine welcome to people who are no longer foreigners.
Your Invitation Letter is More Important than Your Overseas Passport
You must bring your invitation letter to the ceremony. On the day of the ceremony, this document is more important than your overseas passport.
You may be asked to supplement with another form identification, preferably a document with a photograph issued by the UK, such as, driving licence.
You are required to arrive at least 30 minutes before the scheduled ceremony time so that checks could take place to ensure you have got the right documents with you.
Should you forget to bring your invitation letter, your ceremony will be postponed. You have to be mindful that you are required to attend the ceremony within 3 months after the invitation has been issued to you.
Oath of Allegiance or an Affirmation
As a new British citizen at the time of booking you will need to choose whether you are going to say the oath of allegiance or an affirmation. The easy way to differentiate between the two is whether you are choosing a religious or non-religious oath.
If you are seriously religious, there is no greater power than God. This is recognised in the ceremony and you do not need to compromise your religious beliefs.
This is another great token of tolerance, inclusivity and diversity.
Your mouth needs to be uncovered so that the registrars were satisfied that you were actually saying your oath or affirmation out loud.
You will not receive your Citizenship certificate before the ceremony is completed. The most important part of the ceremony is the oath or affirmation.
This is the reason why as a newly naturalised British citizen you do not receive your British citizenship certificate in the post.
You need to attend the ceremony and say out loud the oath of allegiance or affirmation. You will not be issued a certificate without it.
Taking Photographs During the Ceremony
There is an assigned professional photographer on the day of the ceremony tasked to take your photographs during the ceremony.
You are encouraged to speak to a photographer before the ceremony takes place and discuss how many and what type of photographs you will want to take.
You will need to pay separately for your photographs in advance.
The Local Dignitary
It is customary for the local dignitary to attend the ceremony. This signifies the welcome inclusion by the representatives of the local authority.
Depending on the day, the dignitary may be a mayor or a deputy or any other member of the local Council.
The dignitary usually wears ceremonial clothes for the day.
You are welcome to take official photographs with the local dignitary with the Queen’s portrait in the background.
After the Ceremony – Next Steps
As soon as you collect your British citizenship certificate, you are eligible to:
- Apply for British passport;
- Register to vote.
You are encouraged to do so online.
It is important to cut your BRP (biometric residence permit) in half and return it to the Home Office. Failure to do so attracts a fine of £1,000. You are encouraged to do so as soon as you receive your British citizenship certificate.
Wondering if you could apply for British citizenship, get in touch with me.
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Saule Voluckyte, M.A.E.S, LL.B, FAIA
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