Aliens registration card with 'naturalised' written across it (Catalogue reference: MEPO 35/1/4)

This is a brief guide to finding records of a naturalised Briton. It is intended to help you find information about somebody who came to Britain in the past.

For information on how to obtain a copy of a certificate of British nationality between 1 January 1949 and 30 September 1986 or a naturalisation issued between 1 January 1981 and 1 January 1986 please read Certificates of British citizenship instead.

  • What records can I find in other archives and organisations?

    • Huguenot Society records

      Consult the Huguenot Society website, which includes information about their archives and details of publications to help you trace individual immigrants, including indexes of naturalisations by private Act of Parliament up to 1800.

  • What other resources will help me find information?

Did you know?

If immigrants came to Britain from Ireland or the British colonies they were called Britons. If they came from elsewhere (including Scotland before 1707) they were called aliensalien - a person who is not a citizen of the country they are living in.

Foreigners wishing to become English (or later, British) could either apply for denizationthe granting of residence in a country and certain rights of citizenship, such as the protection of the law (which made them almost equivalent to native-born Britons and granted them most of a free subject's rights and the protection of the law) or naturalisationto make someone a legal citizen of a country they were not born in (which granted them all the rights and made them a subject of the Crown). However, most foreign settlers did not bother to go through these formalities and so do not appear in these records.

Before the mid-20th century Britons from across the world were British citizens. After the British Nationality Act 1948, colonial Britons had to register British citizenship.

There is more information in the background papers to the applications than on the certificates themselves. Many are name searchable in our catalogue.