The Home Office have now announced that the Nationality Document Return Service and the Nationality Checking Service are both to be phased out by the end of December 2018. These are services provided by local authorities to assist applicants for citizenship mainly by witnessing copies of passports.
We assume that the reason behind this move is to facilitate applications being made through the new UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services Centres (UKVCAS) and the new “commercial partner” – Sopra Steria.
This allows applicants to apply online and then attend one of these new centres to enrol their biometric details and have their passports witnessed.
However so far (and it is only early yet) the new service has proved disappointing. Applicants have reported long delays at the new centres and difficulty obtaining an appointment.
As we currently understand it – the paper application form for citizenship will still be an option. This might be a good option in the next few weeks to avoid the new service and instead apply directly to the Home Office.
Hopefully the new service will be up and running more efficiently in due course.