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British citizenship by descent

British Citizenship by Descent

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How to Get British Citizenship by Descent

By acquiring British citizenship by descent, you can become a UK national even if you were born abroad. You can get your citizenship status on the basis of a parent’s or, in some cases, grandparent’s British nationality.

The Home Office reviews any claim for British citizenship by descent and judges it on a case-by-case basis. For this reason, it is advisable to speak with one of our immigration specialists in London. Your dedicate lawyer will guide you through each stage of your British citizenship application.

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How do I acquire British nationality otherwise than descent?

You can become a British national even if you were not born in the UK or if your parents were not citizens themselves.

You can be a British citizen otherwise than by descent by:

British citizenship by descent eligibility

You may be eligible for British citizenship by descent if you:

  • Are born outside the UK to a parent who was a British citizen otherwise than by descent
  • Were born or adopted in the UK before 1 January 1983
  • Were born in the UK on or after 1 January 1983 to a mother or, if your parents were married, a father who was already a British national or settled person
  • Were born in the UK on or after 1 July 2006 and either of your parents was a British citizen or settled person
  • Applied for citizenship in your own right, seeking naturalisation or registering as a UK national

British citizenship by descent for those born before 1 January 1949

If you were born before January 1948, you may be able to acquire British citizenship by double descent in the following circumstances:

  • You and your parents were not in a Commonwealth country
  • You of one of your parents were born in a former British territory
  • One of your parents or grandparents married a British national before 1949

British citizenship by descent for those born before 1 January 1983

Your British citizenship by descent eligibility can be based on one of the following:

  • You or one of your parents were born in a former British territory and registered as a British citizen
  • One of your parents was in Crow service when you were born
  • Your parents married before 1949, and your father was born in the UK
  • Your mother’s father was born in the UK, but you were born outside the EEA

British citizenship by descent or those born after 1 January 1983

You can claim your eligibility if:

  • You have a British born grandfather who was in Crown service at the time of your parent’s birth;
  • You or one of your parents were born in a former British colony
  • Your mother was born in the UK and was registered as a British citizen between 2 February and 31 December 1982.

Passing on British citizenship by descent

Those who successfully applied for UK naturalisation become British citizens. Their children are automatically British, whether they were born in the UK or abroad.

However, British citizens by descent are born outside the UK and acquired their status through one or both their parents, who were British nationals. Subsequently, they cannot automatically pass on citizenship to any of their children who are born abroad.

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Frequently Asked Questions

As a general rule, British citizens by descent cannot usually pass their status on to their children born outside the UK.

However, exceptions apply where one of the parents is a British citizen working in one of the following types of service and was recruited in the UK, or if the child was born on or after 21 May 2002:

  • Crown service
  • Specially designed service
  • European Community institution service

To establish your claim to British citizenship, you must prepare an extensive bundle of documents. One of our experienced immigration lawyers in London can help you file and complete your application.

Valid proofs of your eligibility and your parents’ or grandparents’ status include:

  • Passports describing the holder as a British citizen or as a British Overseas Territories citizen
  • A birth certificate showing the country in which the applicant was born
  • A certificate of naturalisation issued in the UK or a qualifying territory, describing the older as a British citizen
  • Any relevant documents related to your parents’ or grandparents’ citizenship status
  • A biometric residence permit confirming that the individual has Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK
  • Evidence of a parent’s employment from a government department in the UK or a designed EU institution

If you wish to establish whether you hold British nationality, you can apply for a status letter. This document records UKVI’s opinion that a person possesses any form of British citizenship, and cannot be considered a valid certificate of nationality.

You can apply for a status letter if you do not wish to request a British passport, but still, require confirmation of your entitlement to UK nationality for other purposes.