UK naturalisation: Who can act as referees

Who can act as referees for UK naturalisation application?


Application form for the UK Citizenship or naturalisation requires two referees: It is also required that the persons who are going to put down their details (passport, date of birth) and signature should have known the applicant personally for 3 years.

It is NOT necessary that both referees have to be UK citizens as one can be of any nationality provided that the person holds a professional standing. What it means that the person has to be either a professional such as an accountant, solicitor, police officer etc. or he/she must have a good standing in the community. For example a minister of a recognised religion or a member of Parliament. A list of persons who can act in the capacity of professional persons is available on GOV.UK’s website which can be accessed HERE. The list contains about 50 professions who can act as referees.

The requirements for the second referee are slightly different as this person has has to be a UK citizen and he/she must be at least 25 years of age.

While an applicant may have friends who are British citizens and therefore can act as a referee; however, finding a referee of professional standing can be little bit difficult if not impossible. According to the rules specified on the naturalisation form, the referees have to declare that they have known the applicant personally for three years and if they intentionally give false information or hide any factual information, they can be subject to a fine of £5000 or imprisonment of 3 months or both. So unless you know each referee for the specific time,  it is very unlikely that they will make that declaration.

Who you can approach: If you have been living in the UK for a few years there is no reason why you should not have known a professional person who you can ask to act as your referee. As well as asking your solicitor or account, there are many other people you can approach for reference. It can be a bank official where you have your bank account, or your broker if you trade in stock and shares. A permanent civil servant from your local council office, or similarly a nurse, social worker, health visitor etc. will also be able to act as referees. Some other professionals include your dentist, optician or teacher.

See also:

Life in the UK practice test

Nationality checking service

Settlement checking service

45 thoughts on “UK naturalisation: Who can act as referees

  • November 5, 2015 at 4:28 pm
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    I’m dispairing with this list of possible professions! My wife, who want to apply for British citizenship knows a bunch of PhD physicists via me (also a PhD physicists), some high ranking in an international research orginisation based in the UK, but there is not a single scientific profession on that list. I do not count a ‘Christian Science practitioner’ as a scientist.

    Reply
    • May 28, 2018 at 5:40 pm
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      How did you get on in the end? Im really struggling with finding a professional whos known me personally for 3 years and is willing to sig n. Ive so far been told they wont/cant do it.

      Reply
  • November 5, 2015 at 4:40 pm
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    One more problem: A GP would be the ideal person for this, as a GP typically follows his/her patients over the years. A few medical professions are mentioned on the list, but while a nurse is ok, a GP is clearly not ok for whatever reason. Not that it would not make any difference in my wife’s case: Her GP, at Marcham Road Family Health Centre, Abingdon, refused to give any personal details, in line with the practice at the surgery! Bank employees change on a yearly basis, so they are no good either. If a teller machine could be a referee, that might work, they stay in place a little longer. My wife is Buddhist, there is no Buddhist center nearby and of course she knows no reverend, priest or immam.

    Reply
  • June 13, 2016 at 10:39 am
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    I have been in the UK for over 10 years and this rule is the only reason I do not have British Citizenship yet. I am not a religious person so there is no priest who could be my referee. The local GPs do not assign one doctor and I go to see whoever is available at the time (I think many if not all NHS practices do it this way). As a result of being too healthy none of them, including nurses really got to know me enough. As Henri above said bank employees change. Even my university personal tutor has gone to work in industry. Do I have to start going to some mosque or church to get to know the right person? I hope this silly rule changes so I can send my application form.

    Reply
    • May 28, 2018 at 5:42 pm
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      Hi Marta, did you find someone? I too am struggling because of the professional referee rule. GP and dentist wont do it despite seeing them frequently.

      Reply
    • July 8, 2018 at 5:12 pm
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      You’ve been living in the UK for over 10 years, and you do not have any British friends who are professional workers?

      Reply
      • November 27, 2018 at 8:37 am
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        Can I have a question? My friend is a lecturer but he didn’t teach me. Can he be my referee? Thanks.

        Reply
      • December 23, 2018 at 12:47 pm
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        I’ve lived in the UK all my life and would struggle to find anyone in one of the professions listed, for normal people who work in retail for example, knowing someone personally in one of those professions is a long shot…

        Reply
      • December 30, 2018 at 10:01 am
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        The person doesn’t even need to be British if they are a professional worker.

        Reply
  • October 3, 2016 at 4:36 pm
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    It is almost impossible to find someone , my husband wants to apply for a British citizen and we a really stuck on a professional to assist him
    I am a British citizen and I would have problems finding someone for myself and I’ve been living here 38 years …for a start people would probably do the reference if there was not a scare if prison and fine for false imformation , people are reluctant to to it because of this even tho they tell the truth and also the homeoffice says that you can’t be related or friends but how can you know about someone if you are not related or friends …I don’t tell a person I’ve meet a few times my personal Buiness and I agree it’s bloody stupid that a doctor can not do it , to me the doctor is an ideal person !! If a person have been here a short time ie 3 years its almost impossible to find someone !!!

    Reply
  • December 4, 2016 at 8:22 am
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    I can only agree with the above sentiments. As mentioned, banks and GP surgeries just won’t fill in personal details – security! I have many of my family (nephews etc) serving in the armed forces or people with professional qualifications but because they come under the heading of relatives (by marriage) that too is a no go area. One gets the feeling that the Home Office really is dragging its heels on this. Maybe time to start a petition. As it is, my wife’s application is on hold with the result that even taking a trip to Europe is nearly a complete waste of time and effort. We fly further (Asia) adding to the world pollution problems.

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    • February 10, 2017 at 9:06 pm
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      You can contact a minister of a church, a teacher, a solicitor, a civil servant, your bank manager. If you have been living here since 2002 then there should be surely someone who knows you personally. Re-read the list again.

      Reply
  • March 18, 2017 at 4:45 pm
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    I have had documents for passport application signed by an enginee. An professional engineer will be a member of an institute such as the Instistue of Mechanical Engineers.
    From conversation with the passport office I believe that any reputable proffessional body will do.
    The original post, some time ago, refered to PhD physicists. Some of these will surely be members of a proffessional bosy and therby traceable/verifiable by the Home Office.
    Good luck.

    Reply
  • May 7, 2017 at 5:51 pm
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    The link to the UKBA takes you to https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/nationality-instructions-volume-1

    This page lists 56 documents. Scrolling down the list I couldn’t see one which might be a list of “persons who can act in the capacity of professional persons”. In case I missed it I tried searching:
    * “refer” – you can find “re” but no link;
    * “professional” – you can find “protected”, but nothing starting “prof”
    * list – you can find “li” in eg “nationality”, but no “list”.

    So, as far as I can tell, the page does NOT have a list of “persons who can act in the capacity of professional persons”.

    Reply
    • May 8, 2017 at 9:15 pm
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      It was the correct URL at the time of writing the post. The link has now been updated and points to the correct page. Thanks for pointing it out.

      Reply
  • June 1, 2017 at 2:23 pm
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    I am struggling finding the 1st referee. The bank worker refused to give me one because she said we had to know me personally which states on the form, but they’ve been only providing me a service, my gp is not working anymore, my dentist is retired. I am stuck, any ideas?

    Reply
    • June 5, 2017 at 12:07 pm
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      GPs generally do not act as a referee any more anyway. To be honest, a nurse, care worker, solicitor, para-legal and pharmacist should all be acceptable as well as teachers.

      Reply
      • March 6, 2019 at 11:49 pm
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        A GP or other doctor that you know in a personal capacity is absolutely fine.

        Reply
  • August 17, 2017 at 1:43 pm
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    But, people, the professional person does NOT have to be British.
    If you don’t know someone in the UK, don’t you know someone in the country you’re from?

    1 referee, the “personal” one has to be British and 25+ years.
    2nd referee can be ANY nationality, but of good professional standing.

    Reply
  • September 7, 2017 at 8:44 am
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    I’m finding one for me too it is really difficult but Teacher are fine , I know one a Mum she is a teacher and a friend of mine i hope she can help me out, but my worries she stop teaching now and work in somebody office any advice?

    Reply
  • September 24, 2017 at 2:06 pm
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    Hi ,

    Where can I access the list of 50 professions who can act as referees? On the link that says HERE, it doesn’t have the list.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • September 25, 2017 at 3:58 pm
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      Pls click the link again and it should bring up the list. Can you let’s know if it worked ok? Thanks

      Reply
      • January 16, 2019 at 9:40 am
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        does qualified teacher assistant work as referee??

        Reply
  • November 2, 2017 at 5:45 pm
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    Hi,
    I am just applying for my two kids 17 and 15 years old, and they go to school in Scotland for 10 years. We never had any health visitor or social worker at my home, so the best referees for them is their teachers, but I was shocked that the school refused to cooperate, and no teacher has accepted to sign my kids’application.It had negative impact on my kids, seeing their teachers “role model’s for them, refusing to help them. So it is all about the personal information they have to include, so I think Home Office need to change the way they recieve the information from the referees.

    Reply
    • November 2, 2017 at 10:27 pm
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      Hi there,
      Sorry to hear about your situation regarding the referees. There are many other professions though that might be able to act as referees so do not despair and keep trying. All the best.

      Reply
      • May 17, 2018 at 10:15 am
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        Hi
        I’m also going to apply for citizenship so my question is can I use 2 British passport holder as my reference as they both r born in uk and work at travel agent and teacher and one of them are 25 years old is that ok or the person has to be over 25 please help .again they both r born in uk tanks very much

        Reply
  • November 5, 2017 at 10:49 pm
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    Hi ,

    I have a friend in U.K.who know me for more than 3 years and he is not a British personal however he holds MBA degree ( masters in business applications ) from India and working in U.K. as a Project lead for a U.K based client. Can he act as a professional referee for me ?

    Also can Human Resource personal from my company in U.K. who know me since 3 years can act as my referee ?

    Regards

    Reply
    • November 6, 2017 at 6:35 pm
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      I am not sure if an MBA holder would be able to counter-sign the application for British naturalisation however please check with the concered authority. You can always give them a ring and find out. Similarly a private company and its employees may also not be eligible but again do not take my words for it.

      Reply
  • November 20, 2017 at 12:25 pm
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    Hi,

    My mom and dad boss is the lord and lady. Can they be a 1st referee as they know me for more than 3 yrs??

    Please advice me on this.

    Reply
    • November 23, 2017 at 10:16 pm
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      A professional person or a person with a community standing can act in the capacity of a referee. Will the Lord and the Lady be able to act as referee? I don’t know – but you can always find out by contacting the Home Office.

      Reply
  • November 29, 2017 at 4:59 pm
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    Hi, I have a potential referee who I worked together at a bank with and have known him for 7 years. He is a UK citizen and a compliance officer for the bank but not sure he is part of any professional organisation. Can I use him as a referee?

    Reply
    • November 29, 2017 at 7:54 pm
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      I think bank managers are in the list of referees but not sure about a compliance officer – is the person in a management role? It is always a good idea to ring the Home Office helpline and clarify the matter.

      Reply
  • January 29, 2018 at 4:22 pm
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    Hi
    Can Vet dr be a referee?

    Reply
  • February 2, 2018 at 10:44 pm
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    I have been struggling for a referee myself as I have moved I have been here 1 year and a half and I recently passed my test my old optician dentist will not be my referee my new optician won’t be a referee I really have no one I still don’t know that many people around here and I don’t know what to do

    Reply
  • June 14, 2018 at 4:45 pm
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    Will a child’s child-minder (who is registered with OFSTED) be considered to be a referee acting ‘in a professional capacity’ for a child?

    Reply
  • July 6, 2018 at 12:34 pm
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    Hi!
    Can a friend not be the first referee?
    Also, what do they need to fill in? Is there any special form they need to use for the reference? And pictures? Do we need passport pictures from them?
    Thanks!
    Marta

    Reply
  • July 20, 2018 at 4:52 pm
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    I am struggling like everyone on here to find a referee of professional standing, and whenever I have called the home office to check if the people that have come to mind could in fact be my referees, they just tell me to read the list and to make the decision myself, so they’re of no help at all.
    Does anyone know if I’m allowed to have as my referee of professional standing a Special Constable? They have the same legal powers and use the same equipment, but they volunteer their time rather than get paid for it.
    Another option I have: I have seen engineers as part of the list. Does this person need to be working as one or just have a degree/masters? I have a friend who studied it but works doing something else. My boyfriend’s brother is also an engineer who actually works as one. Would he be a good referee or is he too close to the relative definition? Thank you in advance for any help anyone can give.

    Reply
  • August 5, 2018 at 1:09 am
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    Hi i know a friend who is a British citizen but she is an architect and she is over 25 years old and have known her for 11years will that be okay. And when it says any nationality so someone who lives outside UK can also be a referee is that right. Help please anyone?

    Reply
  • August 5, 2018 at 3:02 am
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    Hi,

    can an architect or PPI investigator do as a referee, I have known both people for more than 3 years and when it says any nationality for referee. Does this mean even if the person is not based in the UK do?

    please can someone help?

    Reply
  • November 18, 2018 at 12:49 pm
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    Hello everyone,

    I am so pleased to head from all of you and they replies you all are getting, in my case its bit of odd struggling my grand father was hold of British citizen and his both parents past away by time he reaches age of 12yars, note: I still have my grand father Passport with my father name listed, I was able to process professional member as referee but, I am struggling to find someone whom is British citizen whom could new my father at a time which is so odd and I am like standing on close door due to me not having someone whom I is British as second referee. I have tried my best to speak to people with evidence showing my father name and all documents ready yet, everyone is keep mushing me away or gets afraid when I beg him to be a referee, was that my father mistake of his parent pass away at age of 12.

    If anyone with any help please keep me posted, I know I might be asking too much but I am broken looking for someone with proofs of everything legates.

    V/r
    Mohamed Fairoozaddin

    Reply
  • November 27, 2018 at 8:41 am
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    My friend is a lecturer but never was my teacher. Can he be my referee?

    Reply
  • March 29, 2019 at 11:08 pm
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    Hey,

    you may find the below list (ANNEX A to Chapter 6) somewhat useful (grabbed the source PDF via a link on this website, albeit one cannot be entirely sure of the genuine or even legally binding nature of this list). I’ll also refrain from commenting on the dilettante nature of proceedings so sadly typical of the UK, incl. the the Home Office considering a “Christian Science Practicioner” a person of professional standing, but not a university professor, for instance. I will comment on the fact that an “Engineer (with professional qualifications)” will not necessarily need to be a member of some professional body, however, since the word “qualifications”, and not “affiliation(s)” is used.

    As for using a non-UK referee of professional standing, the guide booklet also only mentions professional standing “in the community”, which again does not explicitly require said “community” (whatever that’s supposed to be), to be the / a UK one.

    Accountant
    Airline pilot
    Articled clerk of a limited company
    Assurance agent of recognised company
    Bank/building society official
    Barrister
    British Computer Society (BCS) – Professional grades which are Associate (AMBCS), Member (MBCS), Fellow (FBCS) (PN 25/2003)
    Broker
    Chairman/director of limited company
    Chemist
    Chiropodist
    Christian Science practitioner
    Commissioner for oaths
    Councillor: local or county
    Civil servant (permanent)
    Dentist
    Designated Premises Supervisors
    Director/Manager of a VAT registered Charity
    Director/Manager/Personnel Officer of a VAT registered Company
    Driving instructor (approved)
    Engineer (with professional qualifications)
    Fire service official
    Funeral director
    Insurance agent (full time) of a recognised company
    Journalist
    Justice of the Peace
    Legal secretary (members and fellows of the Institute of legal secretaries)
    Local government officer
    Manager/Personnel officer (of limited company)
    Member of Parliament
    Member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces
    Merchant Navy officer
    Minister of a recognised religion
    Nurse (RN, SEN or holder of a BA in nursing)
    Officer of the armed services (active or retired)
    Optician
    Paralegal (Certified or Qualified Paralegals, and Associate Members of the Institute of Paralegals)
    Person with honours (e.g. OBE, MBE etc.)
    Personal Licensee Holders
    Photographer (professional)
    Police officer
    Post Office official
    President/Secretary of a recognised organisation
    Salvation Army officer
    Social worker
    Solicitor
    Surveyor
    Teacher, lecturer
    Trade union officer
    Travel agency (qualified)
    Valuers and auctioneers (fellow and associate members of the incorporated society)
    Warrant officers and Chief Petty Officers

    Reply
  • April 24, 2019 at 11:10 am
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    Hi!
    I’m applying for British citizenship and I have a friend who’s profession is clinical scientist.
    Does anyone knows if he’s profession is accepted as a referee?

    Reply
    • April 25, 2019 at 4:57 pm
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      Hi,
      I know someone who once had a para-legal person acted as a referee so a clinical scientist should also be fine. But do check.

      Reply

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