Hampshire Now - your County Council magazine

Celebrating our new citizens

Becoming a British citizen is a significant milestone for many foreign nationals in Hampshire.

Under the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002, anyone over the age of 18 who has successfully had their application to become a British citizen approved by the Home Office must attend a citizenship ceremony.

A citizenship ceremony is much more than a legal requirement for most of those who attend. It’s an opportunity to welcome new citizens into the community and celebrate the significance of becoming a British citizen.

Each year around 1,500 new citizens are welcomed by Hampshire County Council’s registration service.

What happens at a ceremony?

A citizenship ceremony lasts about 45 minutes. They begin with an introduction and an address by a local dignitary. Then the new citizens have to take or affirm their oath to observe the laws of this country. They also have to pledge allegiance to the Queen.

After that, the new citizens are presented with their certificates and a gift from the County Council. There is an opportunity for photographs, and at some ceremonies, a professional photographer is available who will take photos for the new citizen and their guests to purchase.

How do you apply for a citizenship ceremony?

If you have applied for British citizenship and have had your application approved you will receive a letter of approval from the Home Office. Applicants are required to attend a ceremony within three months of the approval being given, otherwise a new application may have to be made.

If you have requested a citizenship ceremony in Hampshire you should phone 0845 603 5637 to arrange a suitable day and time. Phone lines are open Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, and Saturday 9.30am to 4pm.

Group ceremonies are free and children are welcome to take part. Individual ceremonies can also be provided on request, at a wider choice of venues, but there is a charge for these.

When your British citizenship is confirmed, you will be able to apply for a British passport.

A very British occasion

A high profile citizenship ceremony was recently held in the Great Hall in Winchester. With a British street party theme, including references to the Queens diamond jubilee and Olympic achievements, some 29 new citizens enjoyed the afternoon celebrations and were presented with gifts by Council Chairman Councillor Andrew Joy.

The event was hosted by Leader of the County Council Councillor Ken Thornber and was also attended by the Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Dame Mary Fagan. Entertainment was provided by the Brookfield Brass Quintet from Brookfield Community School and Language College. There was a magic show for the children, and a traditional British tea party after the ceremony.

Find out more about citizenship ceremonies or by calling 0845 603 5637