Before becoming a Liveryman each applicant must become Free of the City of London.
Today most of the practical reasons for obtaining the Freedom of the City have disappeared. It nevertheless remains as a unique part of London's history to which many people who have lived or worked in the City have been proud to be admitted. Prior to 1996, the Freedom was only open to British or Commonwealth Citizens over 21 years of age and of good character. Now however, it has been extended globally, and persons of any nationality may be admitted either through nomination or by being presented by a Livery Company. There is a long standing tradition of admitting women, who used to be called 'free sisters', but are usual called Freemen as well.
The City of London is keen to maintain the Freedom as a living tradition. The Freedom is open to all who are genuinely interested and invited or born to it. The City Freemen are a very broad cross-section of the population.
The City may invite individuals who have made a significant impact in their field of work or in the City to take up the Freedom to acknowledge their personal contribution and the Honorary Freedom is occasionally awarded to world leaders and other internationally prominent individuals in recognition of their achievements.
Freedom ceremonies take place in the Chamberlain's Court at Guildhall and are usually conducted by the Clerk of the Court or his Assistant. Freemen, their nominators and guests are escorted to the Court by the Beadle, who wears the traditional top hat and tails. The Clerk of the Court wears a silk gown, and if the Chamberlain performs the ceremony, he wears the traditional ermine-trimmed gown.
The prospective Freeman is invited to read the 'Declaration of a Freeman', and to sign the Freeman's Declaration Book. The Copy of the Freedom - a parchment document with the name of the recipient beautifully inscribed in a special ink - is presented by the Clerk, together with a copy of the 'Rules for the Conduct of Life' which date from the mid-18th century.