In January 2004 the Government introduced a requirement that all persons aged 18 years or over, who are accepted for naturalisation or registration as a British citizen, must take a citizenship oath and pledge at a citizenship ceremony. A citizenship ceremony is a memorable and enjoyable event which celebrates the important occasion of gaining citizenship.
A citizenship ceremony involves prospective citizens making an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen and a pledge of loyalty to the United Kingdom.
Shortly after you receive your letter of approval from the Home Office you will be sent a letter from the Citizenship Ceremonies Administrator at Essex County Council confirming the date and time of your ceremony.
You are required to attend a ceremony within three months of the approval being given otherwise you may have to make a new application.
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A standard group ceremony
Ceremonies are normally held every first and third Wednesday of the month in the Council Chamber at County Hall in Chelmsford. Ceremonies take about 40 minutes although you will be there for about an hour and a half as this includes registration before the ceremony and photo opportunities after the ceremony.
A standard group citizenship ceremony involves:
- a welcome address by a registration officer
- speeches by local dignitaries explaining about what it means to be a British citizen, history of the county, the local community and the ceremony venue
- the taking of a citizenship oath and pledge
- presentation of a certificate, information pack and commemorative gifts
- closing address and the playing of the national anthem
- informal celebration with light refreshments where you have the opportunity to have your photograph taken with your guests and/or the dignitaries.
If your children have attained British Citizenship with you then they are welcome to attend a ceremony although they do not have to. You can collect their certificate if they do not attend.
There is no additional fee for a standard group ceremony. Payment for the ceremony was included in the money you have already paid in your application for British citizenship. You will need to pay extra if you choose to have an individual ceremony.
What to bring with you
You need to bring the invitation letter sent to you by the Home Office. You also need to bring some photo identification with you; this could be your passport, driving licence, Home Office document or other forms of official identity documents. If you do not bring your letter and ID with you, you may not be allowed into the ceremony.
Your friends and family are welcome to attend the ceremony with you. Unfortunately space is limited so we must restrict the numbers of guests to two per citizen.
Children under the age of five are not permitted at the ceremony.
Individual citizenship ceremonies
If you have a large number of guests you may like to have an individual citizenship ceremony. The Council Chamber at County Hall in Chelmsford and registration offices across Essex are available for your ceremony and they can accommodate groups of different sizes. You may choose to have a ceremony at an alternative venue but you will have to pay for the room hire charge.
Fees for individual ceremonies
There is an additional charge of £130 (£135 from 1st April 2017) for an individual ceremony in a registration office.
Individual ceremonies are subject to staff and accommodation availability and compliance with the Home Office’s deadline for the ceremony to take place.
The oath of allegiance and the pledge of loyalty
At a citizenship ceremony you have the option of either swearing or affirming the allegiance. The oath of allegiance is:
I (name) swear by almighty God that on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second; her heirs and successors according to law.
The affirmation of allegiance is:
I (name) do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her heirs and successors, according to law.
New citizens also have to make the following pledge of loyalty at the ceremony:
I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom and respect its rights and freedoms. I will uphold its democratic values. I will observe its laws faithfully and fulfil my duties and obligations as a British citizen.
Applying for a British passport
Once you have received your citizenship certificate you can apply for a passport.
For further information about how to apply for a passport use:
- the HM Passport Office pages on GOV.UK
- the HMPS passport advice line: 0300 222 0000 (Mon - Fri 8am - 8pm, weekends / public holidays 9am - 5.30pm)