British citizenship by birth is a route to British citizenship based on where a person was born and the background of their parents. Whilst it may sound simple enough, it is not quite as clear-cut as you may think.
Many of our readers might be surprised to discover that you are not automatically entitled to British citizenship if you were born in the UK.
All the rules and stipulations around British citizenship by birth are explained in greater detail in this thorough guide to British citizenship by birth.
British Citizenship by Birth in the United Kingdom
British citizenship is the final step on the immigration journey for those who rebuild their lives in the UK. The most common route to British citizenship is through living legally in the UK for a certain period of time. Ordinarily, after six years of lawful residence in the UK, a foreign national will be eligible for British citizenship, provided they can fulfil all the requirements.
The British citizenship by birth route is an entirely different route, but it leads to the same destination of full British citizenship. It is a much simpler process in comparison and many hold an automatic right for citizenship if they were born in the United Kingdom.
Do you Get British Citizenship by Birth if you were Born in the UK?
This is the golden question and there is one simple answer: no, you are not automatically entitled to British citizenship if you were born in the UK.
The entitlement to British citizenship by birth depends on the individual’s personal circumstances.
British Citizenship by Birth Before 1983
If a person was born in the UK before the 1st January 1983, they are almost always automatically a British citizen.
However, if the person’s father was a diplomat working for a non-UK country, they will not be eligible for automatic British citizenship. Also, if the person was born in the Channel Islands during World War 2 and their father was ‘an enemy alien in occupation’, they also won’t automatically be a British citizen.
It is possible for such individuals to ask for a letter confirming their ‘immigration status’. This might confer them British citizenship.
British Citizenship by Birth After 1983
It is a different story if you were born in the UK on or after 1st January 1983.
If someone was born in the UK on or after 1st January 1983, they will automatically be a British citizen if:
- They are under 18 and since birth one of their parents became a British citizen, or was given settled status
- They lived in the UK until they were at least 10-years-old
Generally speaking, someone is automatically a British citizen if they were born in the UK on or after 1st January 1983 and one of their parents had settled status or was a British citizen at the time of the child’s birth.
Further British Citizenship by Birth Rules
If someone was born in the UK and lived in the country until they were at least ten-years-old, there are some rules which they ought to be aware of.
If they were born after 31st December 1982 and before 1st July 2006, they are automatically a British citizen if either:
- Their mother had settled status in the UK or was a British citizen at the time of their child’s birth
- Their father was a person with settled status in the UK or was a British citizen at the time of their child’s birth, and was married to the child’s mother
If both of their parents were not settled or British citizens at the time the person’s birth or their father was not married to the child’s mother, they will need to register for British citizenship.
For those born after 1st July 2006, they are automatically a British citizen if either of their parents was a British citizen or had settled status at the time of the child’s birth. If parent fell into this category, the person will need to register for British citizenship.
Do Children of UK Nationals Born Abroad Qualify for British Citizenship by Birth?
According to the 1981 British Nationality Act, an individual who was born outside of the UK could be eligible for British citizenship if at the time of their birth, their mother or father was a UK national.
Children who are under the age of 18 can acquire British citizenship if:
- Both parents have lived in the UK for at least three years on the date the application was submitted
- Both parents sign and consent to the application
There is also a slight difference based on the ancestry of the child’s mother and father. If both parents were born in the UK, the child will automatically acquire British citizenship. However, if the mother and father are British nationals but were born elsewhere, the children will need to be registered for nationality.
How do I Apply for British Citizenship by Birth?
If you need to register your British citizenship, there are two methods of going about it. The method depends on the age of the person.
If the person is under the age of 18, one of their parents will need to complete the birth registration. Firstly, they will need to fill in application form MN1 either online or on the paper form. Bear in mind that the online application offers a much quicker turnaround.
If a person lived in the UK until they were 10 years old and need to register for British citizenship, Form T is the form the application they need to complete. Just as with Form MN1, this can be completed both online or on paper form.
With both applications, you will be asked to make an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) point to provide your biometric information (a photo and your fingerprints).
Those who complete an application from a British overseas territory, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands, will need to complete the application either in person at a UKVCAS point, or by post.
What is the Cost of a British Citizenship by Birth Application?
The cost of a British citizenship by birth application is £1,012 for those under 18 and £1,206 for those over 18. In addition to this, it costs £19.20 to have biometric information taken.
If the applicant is at least 18 (or will turn 18 during the application process), they will need to attend a citizenship ceremony at a cost of £80.
How Long Does it Take to Receive a Decision?
Usually it takes a minimum of six months for a decision to be reached on applications. The applicant will be notified if the Home Office require any further information.
What is the Citizenship Ceremony?
The citizenship ceremony is obligatory for those who are at least 18 or turned 18 during the application process.
Usually the ceremonies are conducted in groups, but it is possible to ask for a private ceremony if you prefer. Usually, you are allowed to take two guests with you to the ceremony.
During the ceremony you will need to swear an oath of allegiance and a pledge, promising to respect the rights, freedoms and laws of the UK.
At the end of the ceremony, you will be presented with a certificate of British citizenship and a welcome pack.
What are the Rules for British Citizenship by Birth for Adoptees?
The 1981 British Nationality Act, as amended by the 2002 Adoption and Children Act, stipulates that children adopted on or after 1st January 1983 will acquire British citizenship automatically if one of the adopters is a UK national.
However, children adopted overseas before 1st June 2003 do not automatically qualify for a British passport.
How do I Apply for a British Passport?
As a British citizen, you will, of course, be eligible to apply for a British passport.
You will need to complete and submit an online or paper passport application. An online application costs £75.50 whereas a paper application costs £85.
All documents must be submitted in their original form – photocopies will not be accepted. Also, if any of the documents are not in English or Welsh, they must be translated by an accredited translator. You will need to include both the original documents and the translations in the application.
The specific documents you need to submit depends on your particular circumstances. For this reason, it is a good idea to consult an experienced immigration law company to establish exactly what you need to provide.
That being said, if you don’t automatically qualify for citizenship and needed to submit a British citizenship by birth application, you will usually need to provide the following documents:
- Your full birth certificate
- Your current passport (if applicable)
- Your mother’s or father’s full UK birth certificate, or a British passport belonging to one of your parents that was valid when you were born, or a British passport number for one of your parents
- Evidence of your parent’s immigration status in the UK at the time of your birth
You might be asked to attend an interview as part of the application process. The interview will last around 30 minutes, during which the interviewer will ask you questions to certify that you are who you say you are.
If the application is successful, your new passport will be delivered to you by courier or recorded delivery. Your documents will be returned separately.