Becoming a British citizen is a public celebration. Everyone who applies for British citizenship is required to take an oath or affirmation of allegiance to the Crown, and make a pledge of loyalty to the United Kingdom.
The government places great importance on ensuring those who settle here understand the rights and responsibilities that come with British citizenship.
How to apply
The Home Office, which administers all applications for British citizenship, believes that all new citizens should be encouraged to feel a sense of belonging to the wider community. A ceremony of a public and celebratory nature helps to foster this.
In 2004 it was decided to incorporate the taking of the oath and pledge into a public ceremony involving civic and municipal dignitaries. An applicant may nominate two guests to attend their citizenship ceremony. The guests may be friends or family members.
Citizenship ceremonies are a graduation-style event. Each ceremony celebrates the citizenship of an average of 25 applicants to maintain the personal and family nature of the event.
The superintendent registrar conducts the ceremony in the presence of the Lord Lieutenant for Oxfordshire or another local dignitary.
00.01 Introduction music
00.13 Superintendent speaking to the Citizens:
I will give my loyalty, (Citizens repeat )
To the United Kingdom (Citizens repeat )
And respects it’s rights and freedom (Citizens repeat )
I will uphold its democratic values (Citizens repeat )
I will observe its laws faithfully (Citizens repeat )
And fulfil my duties and obligations (Citizens repeat )
As a British Citizen (Citizens repeat)
0.48 Superintendent Registrar explains what becoming a British Citizen means:
Citizenship means becoming a member of a country or a group of countries, which gives you certain rights and responsibilities.
Now prior to 2004, those people successfully applying for citizenship had to go and swear their oath of allegiance to the crown before a solicitor or a justice of the peace.
The Government recognising that this was a very private affair and wanted to make it more public and more celebratory.
So therefore this afternoon we will be holding a citizenship ceremony here in Oxford , where citizens will be required to swear an oath of allegiance in public as part of a group ceremony. And we are hoping that this will make them feel part of the wider and local community.
01.40 People are talking, socialising and taking photos before the ceremony.
01.48 Citizen one: Interview before the ceremony
For me being part of the UK is quite significant because there is quite a lot in this country which has to be really envied. Particularly the democratic situation that we have here and a sense of security and stability, and also what this country stands for, integrity and you fight for what you believe in. And I’m kind of really honoured actually to take on the responsibility to be a citizen of this country.
I think it is quite a serious day and at the same time it is an honourable day as well.
02.26 Citizen two: Interview before the ceremony
I have been received really warmly and it makes you feel that you really welcome and I think actually that it is an important landmark in our lives, that from being an Indian citizen, we also now become a British Citizen.
02.46 Superintendent Registrar is explaining what is involved in the ceremony.
There are three key stages to the ceremony. There are speeches made by the Superintendent Registrar and the Lord Lieutenant or one of his Deputies.
There is then an oath of allegiance and a pledge of loyalty made by the citizens. And then we have a presentation of a Citizenship Certificate which is issued by the Home Office which is presented by the Lord Lieutenant.
The ceremony concludes with the singing of the National Anthem.
03.17 Singing of the National Anthem
03.21 The Superintendent Registrar enters the room where the Citizens are gathered
Ladies and Gentleman, Could I invite you all to join me in the Council Chamber please, thank you.
03.28 Citizens enter the Council Chamber
3.32 The Superintendent Registrar’s speech
I would like to formally welcome you all here today to Oxford for this Citizenship Ceremony.
The Citizenship Ceremony is a formal acknowledgment and welcome to those who wish to join with us in full membership of the British Nation and Citizenship of the United Kingdom.
03.55 The Lord Lieutenant’s speech
Congratulations to you all on obtaining British Nationality.
I hope you will continue to engage with your fellow citizens locally and to contribute to our community in Oxfordshire.
04.12 The Superintendent Registrar second speech
Today as part of this ceremony, I’m going to ask you to make certain promises and to swear an oath to the Sovereign that you will be a faithful citizen. I will also be asking you to make a formal and public pledge to that affect, stating that you will be a loyal subject and observe the laws of this Country.
04.36 The promises called by the Superintendent Registrar
I will uphold its democratic values (Citizens repeat)
I will observe its laws faithfully (Citizens repeat)
And fulfil my duties and obligations (Citizens repeat)
As a British Citizen (Citizens repeat)
04.49 The Superintendent third speech
I’m now going to call each of you in turn forward to receive your Certificate of Citizenship from Sir Hugo Brunner.
05.07 Applause from everyone
05.20 Lord Lieutenant congratulates Citizens individually, an example follows:
Congratulations Beatrice, I have a little Granddaughter called Beatrice. She is just as beautiful as you (laughter from everyone). Here is your certificate.
05.27 Beatrice’s photo is taken with Lord Lieutenant followed by applause from everyone
05.36 The Superintendent Registrar fourth speech
From this day forward we hope that you enjoy your new status as British Citizens and that it enriches the lives of yourselves and those around you, both in your families and in your local communities.
You have made an oath and a pledge that you will be a faithful subject to the Queen and a true and loyal citizen of the United Kingdom.
06.01 Everyone sings the National Anthem
God save our gracious Queen, Long live our noble Queen…(Fades away)
06.15 Citizen two: Second interview after the ceremony
It is wonderful both solemn and important, it was also some what fun as well. It wasn’t all serious and that was really good.
It made a special moment for us both in terms of family, in terms of our extended family and being with other people, it’s such a mix of people. I think that makes Britain great.
06.34 Citizen three; Interview
This is my happiest moment. I am now a British Citizen.
06.42 Lord Lieutenant concludes the day
I think it’s been a wonderful afternoon. We of course live in a shrinking world and its very, very important that we should engage with each other in a friendly and co-operative manner and this ceremony represents the future.
06.58 End of the video with music and a picture of the Queen.
Where and when do ceremonies take place?
Because of the civic and patriotic nature of the ceremony, the government has stated that it should take place in a building with suitable civic or municipal links.
However, individual applicants may request a personal ceremony. We have more than 100 venues licensed for ceremonies. These venues are ideal for a family citizenship ceremony.
Private ceremonies are available at additional cost.
Do I have to attend?
Yes. The ceremony is a compulsory requirement of your citizenship application process, and every applicant over 18 must attend.
Who else can attend?
Children under 18 who have applied with their parents for citizenship may attend the ceremony. They are not required to take the oath or pledge, but can use the opportunity to be presented with their certificate.
If a child cannot attend the ceremony, another family member may collect the certificate on their behalf.
All citizenship ceremonies are by invitation only. Each applicant may nominate two guests to attend their citizenship ceremony. The guests may be friends or family members.
What do I need to bring with me?
Your Home Office letter and your biometric residence permit, which is the photographic credit-card sized card that shows your immigration status, if you were issued with one. If you haven’t received the Home Office letter before date of the ceremony and do not hold a biometric residence permit, please bring any form of current photo ID with your date of birth, e.g. driving license or passport.
How long does the ceremony take?
The ceremony takes around 40 minutes, depending on the number of applicants who attend. All those attending are requested to arrive half an hour before the ceremony is due to start to enable their identification to be checked and to sign the Oxfordshire Citizenship Register.
What happens during the ceremony?
Prior to the ceremony, the applicants and their guests are usually offered refreshments. All applicants are asked to sign in and sign the Oxfordshire Citizenship Register.
The ceremony opens with a short welcome and is followed by a speech from the local dignitary who speaks on behalf of the local community.
The applicants then take the Oath and Pledge of Allegiance. They may swear or affirm the oath depending on personal wishes and religious beliefs.
Every applicant is presented with a Certificate of Naturalisation and a welcome pack. Each person comes forward individually to receive the certificate from the civic dignitary. The presentation may be photographed to provide a memento of the occasion.
The whole assembly is then asked to stand for the National Anthem. After this they return to the assembly area where further refreshments are available.
Will I get my new passport as well as the certificate?
No. You will have to apply for a British passport from the Identity and Passport Service after you have attended the ceremony.