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British Citizenship by Birth

British citizenship by birth

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How to register for British citizenship by birth

Those born after 1983 are not automatically granted British citizenship by birth if you are born in the UK. Whether or not you have an automatic right to British citizenship depends on you and your parents’ circumstances. At least one of them must be a British national for you to be granted British citizenship when you are born. You must also be born in the UK itself to be automatically granted citizenship.

You may be able to register as a British citizen if you were born in the UK to one or more parents who became a British citizen or was granted permanent residence after your birth.

If you were born abroad to one or more British nationals, you will also need to register as a British citizen, as you will not just be automatically granted citizenship.

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Registering for British citizenship

You must register for British citizenship if you:

  • Were born in the UK, after 1983, to one or more parents who became British citizens after your birth; and
  • You have lived in the UK until you were at least 10 years old; or
  • You were born outside the UK to one or more British parents

You do not need to register for citizenship if you were born in the UK to one or more parents who were British at the time of birth.

To register a child for British citizenship by birth, you can fill in an online form via the gov website, and then book an appointment at a UKVCAS centre. Here, the child will be provided with their biometric information.

Application forms for British citizenship by birth

The correct application form for British citizenship by birth is form MN1. This form specifically relates to registering for citizenship. Note that this process is different than that which is used by people who are naturalising as a British citizen. For these people, the correct application form is form AN.

Form MN1 can be completed by applicants who are living in the UK; in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or a British Overseas Territory.

The form requires applicants (or parents) to complete information about birth, nationality, parentage, and criminal/immigration history. In section five of the form, two referee details must be included. These individuals must be professionals who are not related to the applicant. They must confirm the identity of the applicant and state why they believe the child is entitled to British citizenship.

British citizenship by descent

‘British citizenship by descent’ is a term which is used to describe a person who is born outside the UK to one or more British parents.

If a person is descended from a British national(s), and they are not born in the UK, they will not automatically qualify for UK citizenship.

To become a citizen, they will need to register for British citizenship.

Children born in the UK to non-British parents

If a child is born outside of the country and one or more of their parents are British nationals, they can claim their citizenship by birth when they return to the UK, once one or both the parents get settled status.

Settled status, in this case, counts as Indefinite Leave to Remain, often referred to as ILR, or settled refugee status.

This process is called claiming nationality “otherwise than by descent”.

Call our immigration experts or enquire online to start your child's application for British citizenship. Learn More

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British citizenship by adoption

According to the 2002 Adoption and Children Act, children who were adopted on or after the 1st January 1983 can qualify for British citizenship by descent if one or both of their adoptive parents are British.

If one or more of the adoptive parents are habitually resident in the UK then a child can also apply for British citizenship by birth based on this.

A child who has been subject to a parental order at a UK court can become a British citizen if the person who made the order was a British national. If the parental order ceases to have effect once the child has successfully registered as a British citizen, they will keep their status as a British citizen.

It is important to note that children that are adopted from overseas before 1st June 2003 do not automatically qualify for a British passport.

Surrogacy law

UK nationality law on surrogacy is especially complex. This is because of the route to citizenship changes depending on different circumstances.

For example, if the surrogate mother of the child is the genetic mother then her nationality will be used in order to make the child’s citizenship claim. However, if IVF has been used as a method to plant the ‘commissioning couple’s’ sperm and eggs in the woman, the couple’s nationality will be taken into account.

It is important to note though, that the ‘legal mother’ of the child is always the surrogate mother, according to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of 1990.

If the ‘commissioning couple’ seeks to get a parental order, then their nationality will take precedent in an application rather than the ‘legal mothers’’.

British citizenship by birth advice

Our team of immigration and nationality law will work with you to assess whether you are eligible for British citizenship by birth. They will examine your parentage and immigration history to decide whether you qualify and, if you do, they will advise you on what you need for a successful application. They will discuss various options with you and offer alternatives to meet your needs if you are not eligible. They will advise you on which documents and application forms you need to include in an application for British citizenship registration.

Call us on 020 3883 6530 or make an enquiry online to get advice on your eligibility for British citizenship by birth.

British Citizenship by birth application support

If you are eligible for this route, or any other, you can instruct our lawyers to oversee your application. If you choose this option, your lawyer will work tirelessly to ensure your application meets the high standard set by the Home Office. They will source and organise your documents for you, carefully placing them into an in-depth Evidence Portfolio. This ensures that the person reviewing your case can easily navigate through each section without missing anything. As part of this service, your lawyer will also write a detailed cover letter – called a Letter of Representation – to be submitted with your case.

Call us on 020 3883 6530 or make an enquiry online to begin your British citizenship by birth application.

The ‘good character’ requirement

If the applicant child is over the age of 10, then they must prove that they are ‘of good character’ when making an application for registration.

To meet this requirement, the child must:

  • Have always shown respect for UK law and not committed any crimes. This included terrorism, war crimes and any activities which are considered to be ‘not conducive to the public good’.
  • Not have been in breach of any immigration laws, such as overstaying a visa.

The Home Office will assess the applicant’s criminal and immigration history when discerning whether or not they meet this requirement.

Applicants under the age of 10 are not subject to this requirement, but in certain extreme circumstances, they may still be refused citizenship on the basis that their character could still seriously harm the good of the British public.

Dual citizenship for children

Making a British citizenship application is likely to affect any current citizenship status which is held by the child applicant.

Because of the way UK nationality law works, it is unlikely that the child will have to renounce your former citizenship to another country. This is because the UK allows for dual citizenship status. However, there are certain countries that will not permit dual citizenship in any form. In these cases, the child will have to renounce their citizenship to that country in order to register as a citizen of the UK.

It is important to bear in mind that, when a child (or adult) is a dual citizen of two countries, they are still bound by citizenship laws in their former country. So, in countries where citizens have certain civic responsibilities (such as military service for example) the child is still subject to them.

Citizenship ceremonies

A child applying for any form of British citizenship by birth will not be required to attend a citizenship ceremony. Neither do they have to swear an oath of allegiance.

Registration fees

The British citizenship registration fee is £1,012. As well at this, there is an additional cost of £19.20 which covers the taking and setting up of the child’s biometric information.

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Frequently Asked Questions

You can apply for a passport on behalf of a baby, child or teenager online or by post. This costs £49 if done online and £58.50 if by mail.

A child’s passport will last for five years.

The processing time for a child’s passport is three weeks, but you can also use a one-week fast-track service if you are working to a shorter timeframe.

A child’s passport must be applied for by someone with parental responsibility – this can be a parent or guardian.

A status letter is a document which records the UKVI’s assessment of an applicant’s nationality status. This should not be confused with a certificate of nationality.

A status letter can be used in an application for British citizenship and can be accessed by submitting a dorm NS to the Home Office.

Yes, children up the age of 16 can apply for citizenship based on their descent or birth. If needed, a parent or guardian can complete their application for them on their behalf. If doing so, they should ensure that the applicant’s details are that of the child and not of themselves.

It is also important to note that any child registering for British citizenship who is under the age of 16 will not need to attend a citizenship ceremony. Children over the age of 10 must satisfy the good character requirement.

Yes, adults over the age of 18 can register as British citizens, as long as they are eligible. For adults who want to become British citizens who are not descended from British nationals or born in the UK, naturalisation is an option.

British citizenship by naturalisation requires applicants to have lived in the UK with a valid settlement visa for between three and five years (depending on the visa type) before applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). They then need to hold ILR status for at least 12 months to be eligible for a British citizenship application using form AN (for naturalisation).