Frequently Asked Questions

Confused about Knowledge of Language and the Life in the UK test? So are we!

Applying for UK citizenship or settlement is complicated!  There are so many rules and exceptions to rules that it can make your head spin.  And the rules changed last year.

We get asked so many questions by people who want to become UK citizens that we decided to put together a list of Frequently Asked Questions to tell our readers what they need to know about the Life In The UK Test and the English language requirements.  Our answers are based on information from the Home Office website.  We have simplified the language so that anyone – including people who are not fluent in English, can understand with as little help as possible. We cannot advise on immigration matters but have included information on where you can get help.

Please not that, while this information was correct at the time of writing, immigration legislation changes frequently. We manage this website in our limited spare time and are not able to update it as often as we would like, so please check the latest information on Home Office web pages using the links below.

The government wants everyone who applies to live in the UK to prove that they have “Knowledge of Language and Life In The UK”.  The following questions and answers explain what this means and what applicants have to do.

Frequently Asked Questions about “Knowledge of Language and Life In The UK”

How do I prove that I have Knowledge of Language and Life In The UK?

You have to:

  • Pass the Life In The UK test
  • Pass an English language test at B1 CEFR at a Secure English Language Test (SELT) centre.

What does a speaking and listening qualification in English at B1 CEFR mean?

CEFR stands for the Common European Framework of Reference.  This describes levels of language qualifications used by European countries.  There are six levels starting at A1 for beginners to C2 for the most advanced level (university level).

  • In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, B1 is equal to an English For Speakers Of Other Languages (ESOL) at Entry level 3
  • In Scotland, B1 is equal to ESOL Intermediate 1 / National 4

You must have a certificate to show that you have taken and passed a test at this level or at a higher level.

Do I need to go to a special centre to take the English language test?

Yes. The rules changed in 19 November 2015. Now you have to take the test at a Secure English Language Test Centre (SELT). For more information see our blog post.

Do all applicants need to pass the English language SELT test?

No.  You do not need to if:

Do all applicants for settlement have to prove they have Knowledge of Language and Life In The UK?

No.  There are several groups who do not need to have an English language qualification or take the Life In The UK Test.  People who are exempt include anyone who:

  • Is younger than 18 years or older than 65
  • Has a learning or physical disability that stops them from learning or communicating in English
  • Spouses (husbands, wives or civil partners) of UK citizens or permanent residents who have been victims of domestic violence or whose spouse has died
  • Refugees and people with humanitarian protection
  • Asylum seekers with Discretionary Leave (DL) to remain

There other groups who are allowed Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).  If you think you are one of them, check with the Home Office.

I have a GCSE/AS/A Level/Functionals Skills qualification in English. Do I still need to have a B1 English language qualification in Speaking and Listening?

Yes. Although an English language GCSE is considered to be above B1, it does not test speaking and listening skills. Perhaps this is the reason the Home Office does not accept it as a valid qualification. If your English is above B1 / Entry 3 and you do not come from an exempt country, you have to take a test at a SELT centre (see above).

I passed the Life In The UK Test in 2012.  The current test is based on the Life In The UK 3rd edition which is very different.  Do I need to take the test again?

No.  If you have already passed the test you do not need to retake it, but you must have your original certificate.

Do I have to do a special course to learn about Life In The UK before taking the test?

No. However, it does help to learn in a group and can be enjoyable. Our study guide has been designed to use on your own, with a partner, or in a group.  It has all the information you need to learn, study tips on how to make learning easier and more interesting, questions and exercises to help you check your progress, advice on taking the test and sample tests with the type of questions used in the test.  It is the only book you need!

Where can I take my Life in the UK test?

There are test centres in throughout of the UK.  When you book your test, you will receive the addresses of centres near your home.

How do I book my test?

Start by registering for an account on the Life in the UK test site.

if you need advice or information, telephone the Life In The UK Test Helpline on 0800 154 245.

I do not like using computers.  Do I have to take my test online?

Yes.  You can only take your test online.

Is the test only available in English?

The test is in English.  If you live in Scotland or Wales you can ask to take it in Scottish Gaelic or in Welsh when you book your test.

There is much more information and advice about the test in Chapter 6 in our Study Guide.

I need help with my application. What should I do?

You can get help from an immigration adviser.  Make sure you go to a ‘Regulated Immigration Adviser’.  These are people who are trained and approved by the Home Office.   The Office of Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) has lists of not-for-profit advisers, who will not charge you for advice, as well as those who charge a fee.

I have completed my application, but I am not sure I have filled it in correctly.  What can I do?

Most local authorities provide a National Checking Service.  You can find the list of the ones that do on the Home Office website.

Still confused? Ask a question below and perhaps another of our visitors can help you. But before you ask a new question do read the information above and the answers to questions other people have asked. Be aware that the rules and regulations can change at any time and immigration law is complex. So make sure you check with a qualified immigration adviser, national checking service or the Home Office.

Do also use the forum below to discuss other issues about your journey to becoming a British citizen. Good luck with your application.

Disclaimer: We are not experts in immigration legislation and are not linked to the Home Office. The forum below is open to anyone to respond and we strongly advise you to check any information you are given, using the links above or consulting a qualified adviser, before acting on it.


    • Copy Creators

      Hello – you might be eligible for an exemption but you need to apply for this and provide evidence of your difficulty or disability. Contact the Home Office for help. Best of luck.

  1. Isi

    I have answered my life in uk and b1 test, and as a proof of ID i had submited my passport which is now expired and i have got a new passport now. The old passport is destroyed by the embassy. So do i have to answer my both test agian. Plz help

  2. Tashi

    Hi, I have passed my level 2 ESOL in all three category i.e. Writing, Speaking and Listening back in 2011. I have just finish my Life in UK test and was able to pass it aswell. SO, my question is do I have to give any other additional test to prove my level of English test i.e. B1 or C1 equivalent Or the ESOL level 2 test that I already have would do for me to apply for Citizenship.


  3. elmi

    i passsed my b1 exam on 25/72014
    and im going to apply for uk naturalisation
    now (October 2016) did i need to do my exam again or i can still use my old one .
    i need advice as soon as possible please.
    (email me if you can)
    thank u

  4. Vaeni

    Hi, I am from Sri Lanka. I am going to apply for a settlement visa in UK and I have completed CIMA. Do I need to take these exams?

  5. waks

    Hi I v been in the U.K. For 18years I went to school and college. In 2007 I passed my life in the uk test to apply for my British nationality but due to some circumstance I couldn’t and now I want to apply now so my question is do I have to retake the life in the uk test again and do I still need to do this B1 SELT English test as well

    • Copy Creators

      You shouldn’t have to take the Life in the UK test again. If you graduated with a degree in the UK you won’t have to do a SELT test. See the FAQs above which tell you the current requirements. Best of luck.

  6. Stephanie Jackson

    About three or four years ago I passed this test and then received my Indefinite Leave to Remain. I no longer have the certificate, but want to apply for my citizenship. All guidance I have seen says that if I passed it as part of my ILR, I don’t have to take it again, but at the same time, guidance also says that I must submit the certificate as evidence that I have passed it.

    Can you please give me advice?

    • Copy Creators

      We have been told that the only solution to losing your certificate is to retake the test. If you look at the Home Office’s Life in the UK Test site you will see that they do not provide duplicate test certificates. However, as you already have ILR and your papers make it clear that they have seen proof of your passing the test you might not need to submit the certificate. Our advice would be to contact the Home Office. Good luck.

  7. Viv


    I’m living in Uk for more than 6 years and I’m an AAT qualified. I’m working as an accountant in London based office.
    You’ll I still need to do an English test?

    • Copy Creators

      Yes – unless you have degree that was taught in English or come from one of the listed English-speaking countries. See the answers above for more information.
      Good luck.

  8. Pawan Nijjar

    I have lived in the UK since I was about 6 years old when I came to the UK with my parents in the late 60’s.
    I still hold an Indian Passport with Indefinite Leave To Stay, but would like to apply for Naturalization to become a British Citizen.

    My question is, do I still have to take Life In The UK Test given that I attended School in the UK and was educated here

    I will be 65 this year and I believe i will not have to take the test when I make an application after that.
    But I would like to apply for British Citizenship now and would appreciate any help in finding out if I have to take the test given my circumstances.

    • Copy Creators

      The trouble is that the Government’s attitude is that ‘one size fits all’ in this regard. The wife of one my relatives whose main language is English, had to do the English test but as she was just over 60 she didn’t have to do the Life in the UK Test, so you might not have to. Good luck.

  9. sanjay

    Dear sir/madam
    In 2006 I passed my life in the UK test to apply for my British nationality but due to some circumstance I couldn’t and now I want to apply now so my question is do I have to retake the life in the UK test again?
    Many thanks

  10. Su Coleman

    I am helping a lady to prepare for UK Citizenship. Will she need to do the Life in the UK test before the GESE Grade 5 exam or doesn’t it matter which she does first?

  11. mary jane

    I have been here for 15 years and is looking to apply for british neutralisation, last year I graduated of HND in events and management, I have also been studying in the uk seens I was 8 years old, will I still need to take a life in the uk test?

  12. mary jane

    Second question is I also have the right for indefinete right to remain in the uk if I have this does it mean I don’t need to take life in the uk test?

  13. Zainab Ali

    Hie,I am from Somalia and I have ILR in UK under refugee and humanitarian protection, do I need to life in UK test and English language to naturalise please thanks in advance

  14. Anabrasil


    I’ve just checked my Life in the UK certificate, as I’m hoping to get the ball rolling on naturalization application.
    I have had the ILR for over 15 years.
    I took the test 19/10/13 and it was pretty extensive. It was Life in the UK and then I sat through the English Knowledge part, listening, speaking and writing. The certificate itself states that I’ve passed and that this satisfies the English knowledge part and no other test is necessary…
    As it has been over 3 years (and laws changed so much), I’m really hoping that I don’t need to take any additional English test (B1), as it has been discussed in this forum…
    Am I clutching at straws??

    Any help is appreciated,

    • Copy Creators

      I’m afraid the Home Office changed the rules in 2015 – see our blog and no longer accept anything other than the SELT tests or degrees studied in English for candidates who need to prove they have English at B1 level. You appear to have English at a much higher level but sadly the government is not flexible. It’s best to contact them directly just be sure. Good luck.

      • Anabrasil

        I was afraid you were going to say that…
        Not trying to turn this forum political, but it seems that either the government is trying to find ways to make extra money or they just don’t trust their own processes. When I went to take the test in 2013, it was in a secure test centre. You had to show proof of ID, be escorted to the seat and then escorted to get your result and collect your ID. There were eyes on you at all times to avoid fraud.
        Not sure what will be different with taking the test at another centre… and I’m sure it will entail the same kind of test: listening, writing and speaking.
        Oh well!
        Thanks for the reply, better get my skates on and spend some more ££!!

        Kind regards

      • Copy Creators

        I’m afraid it is political – there have been instances of fraud but the response is harsh for the majority of honest applicants. You just have to do a Speaking and Listening SELT Test – there shouldn’t be any writing. Best of luck.

  15. Faiza salman

    I have to apply indefenate so which test do I need to do. I have life in tha uk. Do I need b1 and b2 as well?

    • Copy Creators

      You have to:
      Pass the Life In The UK test
      Pass an English language test at B1 CEFR at a Secure English Language Test (SELT) centre.

      You don’t need to pass a B2 test

      Good luck

  16. Sonia B

    HI, if I have a TEFL 150hrs Masters Certificate, UK TEFL Training Body Certificate, do I still need to do the B1 CEFR Test to apply for Citizenship? Thanks

  17. Daphne

    I have done my ILR permanent visa in 2009. Done my Life in the Uk test. Do I have to do the English test as well to become a british citizen. Thanks

  18. shana

    Hello, i was granted refugee status in 2010. i read above and on other blogs that refugees who have had their status for longer than 5 years are exempt from having to take the Life In The UK Test…is this true, do i not need to take the test? and if i am exempt from taking it do i also still need to take the ESOL test only?

  19. Rita Trotusanu

    Hi . I have passed the b1 English test in November 2015 , do I need to take another test to apply for citizenship? I also have a BTEC level 5 diploma in business Human resources. Thank you .

  20. Delightofgod

    Pls I have a question .
    My a1 test is in Apr 20 2017 il I registered with international passport which is expiring 16 july 2017 am getting a new passport by april before my due date of exam so I can apply for my spouse visa in MAY .
    Pls the question is will there be an issue when submitting my application cos am using my present passport to write my exam while I will be applying with my new passport due to the fact the one for the a1 exam is expiring soon .
    Pls hope they wont be a problem with my visa application when I submit I dont want to be refused visa due to this but the names on both passport are the same am inly renewing my visa that’s all .

    • Copy Creators

      We aren’t immigration experts but don’t see why there should be a problem – you might have to submit your expired passport with your current one so make sure you keep it. To be doubly sure check with the Home Office or Local Authority checking service (see FAQs for link).

      Good luck.

  21. Ivy

    Dear Sir/Madam
    Hi I got my Grade5 entry level certificate in ESOL entry3 B1.1 of the CEFR awarded by Trinity College Hammersmith SELT centre on December 2015.Could you please let me know if it is still valid until when

  22. Ivy December Oca

    Dear Sir/Madam
    I got my Grade5 entry level certificate in ESOL entry3 B1.1 of the CEFR awarded by Trinity College hammersmith SELT centre on December 2015.Could you please let me know if it is still valid until when expire.thanks

  23. Cheryl

    Hi, i am still a little confused please could I have some help ! I have had Indefinite Leave to Remain for over 10 years as married to British citizen, but I now want to get a British passport. Do I need to do Life in the Uk test as I didn’t have to do this all those years ago when I got my indefinite leave to remain ?… I am originally from South Africa and is English is my first language, so Do i need to take the English test too ? Thanks so much !

    • Copy Creators

      You might not have to if the Home Office allows you to convert your ILR to Citizenship. Check with them or your local authority naturalisation checking service (see link in FAQs above)
      For citizenship / naturalisation you do not need to take an English test if:
      You are a national of a country where the main language is English – South Africa does not qualify
      You obtained a degree taught in English

      If you don’t meet these criteria you have to do a SELT test, for more information go to TEFL Certificates aren’t SELT tests.

  24. Abolude Joseph

    David abol is my name.
    Please advise me. I passed Life in UK and ESOL Entry 3 for my ILR in March 2015 .Do I need to pass another english test now that I want to apply for Citizenship.The centre I used for the english test then is no more recognised .

  25. gomjhi

    if i spent ten years in the uk while my application is still pending in ukvi,
    i dont have the any form of identification, right now and which is now allowing me to book the life in the uk test.
    is it possible for me to apply ilr in long residence without the test,

  26. Suhag patel

    Hi.april 2016 i got ILR visa .that time I Keep my file NARRIC that narric certificate take home office so now after 2017 I have to apply British citizen so I have give again exam.plz I am confused.thxs

  27. Elana

    Hello I’ve passed my LIUK test but need to do my English test, however it’s saying I need a valid passport which I don’t have what can I do?

  28. Yoreanos

    Hello I passed my life UK test last week , I have a qualification ESOL Entry 3 Speaking , listening, reading and writing 2010 and on 2015 I have Skill for Life Entry 3 do I have to take other test please am confused?

  29. Annalisa D'Uscio

    I have a speaking and Listening qualification in English as I have a Level 1 Certificate in ESOL Skills for Life (Speaking and Listening) issued 06 August 2007. I also have a Writing-Level 2 Cerfificate issued in August 2007. Both my certificate were issued by Trinity College London.
    Are those Certificate still in date or do I need to take those tests again if I wish to apply for a British Citizenship?
    I am aware that I need to take and pass the life in the uk test as well.
    Anything else I should know?
    Thank you in advance.

  30. Karim Mabrouk

    In 2009 I took B1 test and passed it and used this as evidence for my English to apply for ILR. Now I want to apply for citizenship, can I use this qualification.
    In 2009 there was no secure centres listed. So my B1 wouldn’t be from such centres.

  31. Pari

    I passed Esol B1 level by city and guilds in Nov 2012. I just wanted to is this certificate is still valid by home office?. or can I apply for a spouse visa on the ground of thi certificate?.

    • Copy Creators

      We think that it should be fine for a spouse visa but if you want to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain or citizenship you will have to do a SELT test – see the FAQs and answers to all the questions on this forum.

  32. Kripa Gurung

    I have done my esol in february 2015. Now i want to apply for naturalisation. Do i need to give selt exam as well or will the esol certificate do??

  33. Wesley


    I have a replacement Residence Permit (because my ILR was in my previous passport which was stolen whilst in South Africa last year). I am applying for Citizenship now. I have already had ILR and now have a residence permit (which expires in February 2017 due to being issued overseas). I have two questions:

    1) will having a replacement residence permit cause any issues because it has a time frame?
    2) do I need to take an English Language test even though when I had originally received my ILR all that was required was a Life in The UK test which I passed successfully?

    I am South African and have had ILR (now Replacement Residence) since 2011.

    Thanks for your advice


    • Copy Creators

      Hi Wesley We cannot advise on the first issue – it’s best to go directly to the Home Office or consult an immigration adviser – see links above. You might have to take a SELT test if you don’t fulfil any of the other criteria outlined in the FAQs above.

      Best of luck

  34. clarissa edwards

    Thanks for your reply, do I have to apply for naturalisation to become a british citizen, I can not just change my ILR into citizenship

    • kripa Gurung

      you have to apply for naturalization. i have spoken with the home office and now i am applying as well. good luck.

  35. michele sisto

    I have completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) in the UK; is that equivalent to the English Language Test? (I could not find the answer on the NARIC website). Thanks,

  36. Copy Creators

    Hi Marco – it is daft I know but you need to put this point to the Home Office. There are many ‘Foreign Nationals’ whose main language is English but who don’t come from the exempted countries or have a degree obtained in English who have had to do the test because the bureaucracy is inflexible. Have a look at the exemptions listed here We apologise for our current government.

  37. Thaissa Albertoni

    Hello , I’ve lived in the uk for 10 years and done GCSEs and A levels for English business and media do I still need to do the life in the uk test and the speaking test ?

    • Copy Creators

      Yes, everyone under 65 has to do the Life in the UK Test. Read the Frequently Asked Questions on this to see if you qualify for any of the exemptions for the English Language Test. GCSEs/A Levels don’t count. Good luck

  38. Jilian xhakj

    Hi there
    I have passed the test for english language
    In March 2013 when i got my ILR
    I got the original corticate
    Emd entry level certificate in ESOL
    international entry1
    Cefr a1
    In speaking and listening
    Just passed my life in uk test and i need to know if
    Is it still excepted for citizenship or i need to retake
    Te test
    Thank you

  39. Marc

    I have been living in uk for 14 years working in IT for investment banks and married to a uk citizen. Do really haveto pay £150 for a 10 min chat to prove I know English? Are there any exceptions I can apply to?
    Kind regards

  40. mary

    If i have already have an English speaking and listening test certuficate and have studied in UK seens 8 years old will I still need to take life in the UK test, I also have a HND (higher national diploma) in hospitality management. Will this count?

  41. James

    Hello there, I’ve passed life in the uk Test and do i need to pass SELT test or Can i show my life in the uk test certificate to home office.

    • Copy Creators

      You do not need to if:

      You are a national of a country where the main language is English
      You obtained a degree taught in English

      See the FAQs above for further information and links
      Good luck

  42. sheena ganesh

    Hi I’ve passes the life in uk test. I filled the test form in understanding that I will be applying for british citizenship in the future. So the option I picked was citizenship and not settlement. Now that I have passed it someone mentioned that I should have picked settlement as I need to apply for ILR first. So my question is will they reject my application for ILR because of that?

    • Copy Creators

      Hi Sheena – we’re not experts but don’t see why that should be. It’s the same test. If you are worried try speaking to your local authority’s checking service. Good luck.

  43. Vidya

    Hi my husband took the speaking and listening test last week in India last week he failed it.
    How quick can he re take it please.

If you have any additional information, please use the comment box below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s