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 Nationality 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.



  1. Luciano

    Hi there, my daughter has got GCSEs in The UK does she still needs to take Life in the UK tests and English BI tests. Also, she is her second year at university.?

    Other question I am Italian and got my Permanent Residence in 09/2016 planning to apply in September 2017. Should I prove all off again with bank statements, university letters and self-employment papers for the past 6 years? or just the last year as I have already proved all those documents and letters for the permanent residence purpose. ?


  2. Luciano

    Hi there
    I’m applying for British Citizen and my 19 years old and my 16 years old are applying with me
    I read the whole form and there is no special space to fill their details .
    Does it means that each one of us should made a separated application ?

  3. GRace

    hi! I already passed life in the UK test however, I am planning to change my passport name once I renew it to bear my spouse’s name,do i have to take the test again so that the name in the certifcate will be the same as the new passport?

      • Grace

        Thank you. But can I just clarify are you saying that when i change my maiden name to my spouses surname it will in no way affect the status of my life in the Uk test which I successfully completed 2 years ago? Does it mean that I can just submit my certificate even if it would bear different surname when I apply for ILR? Thank you so much for your reply.

      • Copy Creators

        No changing your name does not affect the status of your passing the test. You might need to send a copy / or the original of your marriage certificate to prove who you are.

  4. George

    Hello I need to take the gese grade 5 as part of naturalisation process but my passport has expired and have no valid ID that trinity college would accept. I have indefinite leave to remain on my expired passport but they won’t accept that. Is there anything around this?

  5. MO

    I am 19 years old and a university student who is studying mechanical engineering and studied in the uk for the past 8 years. I have had my residence permit for few years, so do i have to do life in the uk test to apply for british passport.

  6. Sifa Sindani

    My wife did not need to take the life test when she applied for her Indefinite Leave to Remain, because when she came to the UK she did an English language course which contained life in the UK skills. She now wants to apply for citizenship, does she need to take the life in the UK test, or the certificate will still be acceptable as it was when she applied for her Indefinite Leave to Remain? Many thanks.

  7. Nav

    Hi, I passed my Life in the UK test and received a certificate in 2008. I’m now in the process of applying for my passport but before i do that i have to apply for British citizenship. Do i have to do a B1 test? My education was done in India and since being in England for 10 years now i have been working for a well known IT company. I’m just not sure if i have to do this B1 test as i already have my certificate?


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