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|Records of Naturalisation|
The following is a detailed description of, and a guide to using, the records of naturalisation held exclusively at The National Archives.
Home Office background papers
Home Office naturalisation memorial documents and background departmental records can be found in HO 1 for the period 1844-1871; HO 45 for 1872-1878 and HO 144 for 1879-1933. These records are searchable by name of applicant on the Catalogue, The National Archives' online catalogue. Taking note of these references will help you to order the documents themselves.
Documents within HO 144 are normally closed for 100 years. An exception to this are all naturalisation case papers before the year 1923. These are open and, for files after 1922, the Departmental Record Officer, Record Management Services, Home Office, 50 Queen Anne's Gate, London SW1 9AH will - on request - review files.
Surviving Home Office naturalisation memorial documents and background departmental records after 1934 can be found in HO 405 and HO 382. The files in HO 405 relate to individual foreign citizens (mostly European) who arrived in the UK between 1934 and 1948 and who applied for naturalisation. All files include applications for naturalisation with police reports. Some also include the initial applications for visas or employment permits, changes of name or business name and Second World War internment papers. Files were opened when individuals first applied to enter the UK and continue until naturalisation or death.
Files relating to married couples are listed under the name of the husband and the wife's file is attached to the husband's. Spelling of names sometimes varies throughout the files. The name listed is that used on the naturalisation certificate (where issued) and other names are noted as 'aka' meaning 'also known as' or 'formerly'. All possible variants of a name should be used when a search is being conducted. Just under a thousand files have been earmarked for HO 382 as being of particular interest either because they relate to significant people or are good examples of immigration practice - this includes a few naturalisation cases. Both HO 405 and HO 382 are searchable by name of applicant on the Catalogue.
The series at The National Archives, HO 334 consists of duplicates of Certificates of Naturalisation granted in the UK by the Secretary of State for the Home Department from 1870 under the Naturalisation Act 1870, the Aliens Registration Act 1914, Burma Independence Act 1947 and British Nationality Act 1948; and of Imperial Certificates of Naturalisation granted in British Possessions overseas between 1915 and 1949. Certificates show the name, address, trade or occupation, country of origin, and the names of spouse and children if applicable. Some certificates provide details of the parents of applicants. Records in HO 334 are arranged by certificate number.
The means of reference to these duplicate certificates (with the exception of the registrations of British nationality, known as 'R' or 'M' certificates, issued under the British Nationality Act 1948) are the printed indexes to naturalisations presented before Parliament each year from 1844. These comprise several volume indexes to names up to 1935 and the subsequent annual returns Aliens (Naturalisation) up to 1980. Microfiche copies up to 1962 are available as part of the Chadwyck-Healey collection of Parliamentary Papers in the microfilm reading room. For the period 1870-1933 the certificate number is included in the catalogue descriptions for naturalisation case papers in HO 1, HO 45 and HO 144, searchable on the Catalogue by name of applicant.
The Certificates of Naturalisation in HO 334 are in varying form, as prescribed in the Naturalisation Regulations issued successively under the Naturalisation Acts 1870 and the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1914. The particular form of any certificate is indicated by one or more capital letters immediately preceding the serial number (with the exception of Certificates A).
The Regulations provide that a Certificate of Naturalisation shall not take effect until the person applying for naturalisation has taken the oath of allegiance, and that the oath shall be taken within one month after the date of the certificate to which it relates, or within such extended time as may be allowed. In some cases the certificate was not returned to the Home Office for registration of the oath of allegiance and there is consequently no official record that the certificate has taken effect. It will be apparent from the duplicate whether the oath was taken and registered.
Between 1844 and 1870 duplicate certificates of naturalisation were enrolled on to Chancery Close Rolls. These can be found in the series C 54. The series of British Nationality Act duplicate certificates ends in June 1969. From this point onwards, the Home Office did not maintain a set of duplicate certificates for the succeeding series (a six figure reference starting with 0). Anyone requiring confirmation of naturalisation should write to the Immigration and Nationality Department, B4 Division, India Buildings, Water Street, Liverpool L2 OQN, who will provide a letter of confirmation suitable for legal purposes. This will not however add to the information contained in the printed indexes available at The National Archives.
Registrations of British Nationality
Duplicate certificates of registrations of British citizenship issued under the 1948 British Nationality Act can be found in HO 334 for the period 1948-1987. Name indexes to registrations of British nationality (also known as 'R' or 'M' certificates) for this period are not available at the National Archives. The only known index to these certificates is a card index held by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, India Buildings, Water Street, Liverpool L2 OQN. It is advisable that enquirers first obtain the appropriate 'R' or 'M' certificate number from Liverpool before searching through these records. Otherwise a search will be time-consuming with no guarantee of success.
Enquiries about certificates of Registration issued after 1987 should be made in writing to:
Record Management Services, Home Office,
50 Queen Anne's Gate,
London SW1 H 9AT.
Vouchers for the employment of Commonwealth citizens were issued under the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962 and Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1968. The vouchers were issued in two categories: category A for Commonwealth citizens with a definite offer of a job, and category B for those who held certain specified professional qualifications. Application for a category A voucher was made by the prospective employer. Except for Malta and the Dependent Territories they were issued for: those holding professional qualifications and managerial and executive staff; skilled craftsmen and experienced teachers; specialised clerical and secretarial staff; and those coming for work which, in the opinion of the Secretary of State for Employment, was of substantial economic and social value to the United Kingdom.
Vouchers were not issued if the vacancy offered could be filled by resident labour. Special arrangements existed for the admission, without vouchers, of doctors and dentists. Only a limited number of vouchers were issued annually, based on fixed quotas for the various countries of the Commonwealth.
The series of records LAB 42 consists of specimen applications. The issue of vouchers was brought to an end by the Immigration Act 1971, which came into force on 1 January 1973. The effect of this Act was to bring Commonwealth citizens in line with citizens of foreign countries, regarding employment, which meant that Commonwealth citizens must have had a prospective employer in order to come to this country for employment.
LAB 48 contains specimen applications from non-Commonwealth migrants, 1968 to 1972 and from 1973 onwards, from both non-Commonwealth and Commonwealth citizens. The majority of these records are open for researchers to use following a re-review in 1998.
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