USA and the UK
British Citizenship by Birth
In the UK, not every child born in the country will automatically be able to claim British citizenship by birth.
A child does not automatically become a British citizen when born in the UK unless one of its parents is a UK citizen. Therefore, if a child is born in the UK to one or both British parents, they can automatically claim British citizenship.
In addition, if a child is born outside the UK to one or more British parents, they will need to register their UK citizenship status. This is a simple and straightforward process that allows the child to access their British passport and full rights as a UK citizen.
If you wish to learn more about your options to register your children for UK citizenship, you can get in touch with our team of immigration lawyers at IAS.
- British Citizenship by Birth
- How can my child apply for British citizenship?
- Do children of UK nationals born abroad obtain British citizenship by birth?
- Can children who were born in the UK automatically claim British citizenship?
- How can you obtain British citizenship by descent?
- Can you get UK citizenship through adoption?
- How can my children get a British passport?
- What documents are needed to apply for a British passport for my child?
- What is the British citizenship by birth application form?
- Will my child born through surrogacy be a British citizen?
- Does my child need to be of “good character” for citizenship?
- Will my child need to attend a ceremony for British citizenship?
- Can my children hold multiple or dual citizenships in the UK?
- How much does the application cost?
- What is a status letter?
- How can IAS help me?
How can my child apply for British citizenship?
Individuals over the age of 18 can be naturalized as UK citizens. Minors under the age of 18 will need to have their British citizenship be registered by either a parent or a guardian provided that both have Indefinite Leave to Remain.
Children over 13 years old can qualify for British naturalization if they have lived in the UK for at least 2 years before they apply for registration.
Those who were born in the UK from non-British nationals can register for citizenship as soon as their parents acquire either Indefinite Leave to Remain or settled status. Children born in the UK to non-British nationals automatically obtain citizenship at birth if their parents are already settled in the UK.
In order to register your child for British citizenship, you must fill in the form online.
After you have completed the form, you will be asked to book an appointment at your nearest UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point where you will need to provide your biometric information.
You may either provide copies of your supporting documents when filling out the online form or have them scanned at your UKVCAS appointment.
You can also apply to register for citizenship by post. However, note that this method will take much longer than applying by online.
Do children of UK nationals born abroad obtain British citizenship by birth?
Children who are born outside of the UK from British nationals can acquire UK citizenship “otherwise than by descent”. This classification means that the child will be able to pass on this status to future generations born either in the UK or abroad.
According to the 1981 British Nationality Act, an individual born outside the UK can be a British citizen if at the time of the birth either the father or the mother was a UK national.
Children under the age of 18 can acquire or register for UK citizenship if they can meet the following requirements:
- Both parents have lived in the UK for three years on the date that the application is submitted
- Both parents sign and consent to the application
- If the child is aged ten or older, he or she must be of good character
If both parents were born in the UK, the child will automatically acquire citizenship status. However, if the parents are both British nationals who were born abroad then their children will need to be registered for nationality. The same applies to children who were born overseas who were adopted by British parents.
Can children who were born in the UK automatically claim British citizenship?
You may be entitled to claim UK citizenship depending on your circumstances and the time of your birth. Below are the criteria for eligibility.
Children born in the UK on or after 1 January 1983
If you or your children were born in the UK on or after 1 January 1983, you could be eligible for British citizenship. To qualify, you must either be under the age of 18 or have lived in the UK until you were 10 or older
Furthermore, you can acquire British nationality status only when at least one of your parents has become a British citizen or is granted permission to stay in the UK permanently via Indefinite Leave to Remain or through settled status.
Children born in the UK before 1 January 1983
You are automatically a British citizen if you were born in the UK before 1 January 1983, unless your father was a diplomat working for a non-UK country or if you were born in the Channel Islands during World War 2.
You may ask for a letter of confirmation of status to ensure that you are a UK citizen.
How can you obtain British citizenship by descent?
In order to obtain British citizenship by descent, individuals born in the UK to foreign nationals can become naturalized if their parents or grandparents later become UK citizens.
In order to qualify for this type of citizenship, the child’s parents need to be UK nationals. Furthermore, they will need to have lived in the UK for a continuous period of at least 3 years (with no more than 270 days absence). In addition, the parents must be British citizens other than by descent.
In other words, a child who is a British citizen by descent, cannot transmit this status to any future children they have abroad.
In some instances, eligible children are not automatically citizens of the UK and therefore will need to register their nationality status. The law is applied as follows:
- Children born in the UK on or after 1st July 2006 are automatically British nationals providing that one of the parents was a British citizen at the time of the birth
- Children born in the UK between 1983 and June 2006 could acquire British citizenship if one of the parents was a UK citizen at the time of the birth
- Children born in the UK before 1983 are automatically UK citizens if the father is British or a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies, other than married to their mother
To register for citizenship by descent, you can either apply online or by submitting a paper application on Form MN1. The application can be made from both the UK or abroad.
Can you get UK citizenship through adoption?
According to the 1981 British Nationality Act (as amended by the 2002 Adoption and Children Act) children adopted on or after 1 January 1983, will receive British citizenship automatically if one of the adopters is a UK national.
Children who are not already UK citizens can also claim British nationality if at least one of their adopters is a habitual resident in the country or one of the designated territories.
Furthermore, any children who are subject to a parental order that is made in a UK court can become a British citizen if the person making the order is a British citizen.
Any British nationality acquired by adoption is not lost if the adoption or parental order ceases to have effect.
It should also be noted that children who were adopted abroad before June 1st, 2003 do not automatically qualify for a British passport.
How can my children get a British passport?
If your child is under 16 years of age, you can apply for a passport for them on their behalf. To apply for your child’s passport, you will need to submit the details and signatures of both parents or guardians. If you are unable to provide this information, you can submit a written statement explaining the circumstances that prevent you from providing this information.
If your child has never had a British passport before, you must apply for a first child passport. After you have submitted this request, you will need to have a British citizen of your choosing confirm your child’s identity. This person must have known you for at least 2 years and work in a recognized profession. The HM Passport Office will be in contact with this person as part of your passport application process.
Children between the ages of 12-15 will be required to sign the application form. You should receive your child’s passport within 3 weeks. You can apply for a passport either online (cost: £49) or via a paper form (cost: £58.50) found at the local Post Office.
What documents are needed to apply for a British passport for my child?
In addition to the passport application form, you will need to provide supporting documents relevant to your application which include the following:
- Your child’s full birth or adoption certificate. If the name on your passport does not match the one written on the birth certificate, you must provide a signed letter from any person with parental responsibility confirming the name change and at least one proof of the new name being used in official records.
- If your child had any valid previous passports from a different country, please submit them
- Evidence that your child is a British national
If your documents are not in English or Welsh, you will need to provide certified translations
It should be noted that the UKVI will only accept original documents or official copies of certificates. Certified copies and photocopies will not be accepted and could result in your application becoming invalid.
What is the British citizenship by birth application form?
If you would like to register your child who is under the age of 18 for British citizenship by birth or adoption, you will need to submit Form MN1. This form can be filed by applicants living in either the UK, in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or any other British Overseas Territory. For those who were born before 1983 and would like to apply for registration, they will need to use Form UKM.
Section 5 of Form MN1 must include the details of your referee (this is the British citizen whom you chose to confirm your child’s identity). It should be noted that in addition to confirming your child’s identity, this person should also be willing to advise the Home Office of any reasons why the applicant deserves British nationality.
In this form, both parents will be required to provide both their personal information and consent. If you are a single parent who cannot provide the information about both of your child’s biological parents, then you must attach a written statement explaining why.
Will my child born through surrogacy be a British citizen?
Currently, UK immigration and Nationality law regarding surrogacy is particularly complicated. Each case where surrogacy is involved is different and may require a different way to ensure that the child acquires British citizenship.
All children born through surrogacy will need to be registered for both British nationality and a UK passport. To do this, detail of your child’s situation will need to be included in your passport application form.
If a parental order has been granted in the UK after April 5th, 2010, your child can claim British nationality through his or her parents’ name.
If the parents are a same-sex couple, the parent whose detail appears first on the parental order will be considered as “mother or parent 1”. It should be noted that this information will not appear in your child’s passport.
Does my child need to be of "good character" for citizenship?
One of the requirements for British citizenship is to be a person of “good character”. In order to demonstrate your good character, you must have observed UK laws in the time that you have been living in the country.
According to British Nationality Law, applicants who are age 10 or older must meet the “good character” requirement. In order to qualify as a person with good character, your child must:
- Have always respected the law and not have been involved in or convicted of any crimes. This includes war crimes, terrorism, and actions considered not to be conducive to the public good.
- Not have been breached immigration laws, such as overstaying any previous status or visa
The Home Office will also take into account your child’s age and particular circumstances when assessing their good character requirement.
Will my child need to attend a ceremony for British citizenship?
Applicants who are 18 years old or older will be required to take an Oath in order to receive their British citizenship certificate. If children under the age of 18 wish to attend the citizenship ceremony they can do so. They will also be asked to swear an Oath of Allegiance and pledge their loyalty to the UK. After this ceremony, they will be presented with their certification of naturalization and can then apply for a passport.
If your child does not speak English fluently or has special needs, you can request the service of a certified interpreter.
Can my children hold multiple or dual citizenships in the UK?
Before you register your child as a British citizen, it is recommended that you check to make sure that he or she will not lose their present citizenship when they gain their UK nationality. UK law recognizes the right to hold dual or multiple citizenships, however, some countries do not allow this so it is always best to check ahead of time to make sure that these nationalities do not conflict when they become a UK citizen.
Dual citizenship requires that the dual national comply with the civic duties of both counties. This can include responsibilities such as paying taxes, undergoing military service (if applicable), and other responsibilities that are deemed important.
How much does the application cost?
In order to apply for British citizenship by birth, you will need to pay the following fees:
- Registration of Children as British Citizens: £1,012
- Citizenship ceremony booking fee: £80 (this is mandatory if you are 18 years of age or older)
- Biometrics fee: £19.20
It should be noted that the biometric information fee may vary if you are applying from the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or other British overseas territories.
What is a status letter?
A status letter is a document that records the UKVI’s assessment of a person’s UK nationality status. It is not a certificate of nationality as only the British courts can determine conclusively whether someone officially holds British citizenship.
These letters can be used to obtain confirmation of how both you and your child can acquire UK nationality based on the circumstances. In order to receive a status letter, you will need to complete and submit Form NS.
If you are already a UK national and would like to establish your British citizenship, you can apply for a British passport or a certificate of entitlement to the right of abode.
How can IAS help me?
Acquiring British citizenship by birth can be a complicated process. To help guide you through the process and avoid any unnecessary mistakes, it is highly recommended that you seek expert legal guidance. Here at IAS, our team of lawyers has already helped several families settle in the UK. We are happy to review your case and discuss your options for British citizenship.
As part of our service, your lawyer will:
- Assess your eligibility for British Citizenship by examining your circumstances and ancestry;
- Assist you through the process of registration or naturalization as a British citizen;
- Provide a full document check;
- Compile all your documentation into an organized application portfolio;
- Write a Letter of Representation, which pleads your case to the Home Office and sites relevant case-law when necessary;
- Complete and submit your application on your behalf;
- Liaise with the Home Office and UKVI whenever necessary.
Call us today to learn more about how we can help you with your British citizenship by birth application. You can call us at +1 844 290 6312 or make an enquiry online. We are here to help.
Last modified on August 15th, 2023 at 5:13 am
Comprehensive immigration advice tailored to your circumstances and goals.
Designed to make your visa application as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Fast Track Package
Premium application service that ensures your visa application is submitted to meet your deadline.
Ensure you have the greatest chance of a successful appeal. We will represent you in any case.
The Advice Package
With our untimed Advice Session, our professional immigration lawyers will review your case and provide you with comprehensive advice, completely tailored to your needs and your situation.
The Application Package
With our Application Package, your dedicated caseworker will advise you on your application process and eligibility. Your legal advisor will then complete and submit your forms to the Home Office on your behalf.
The Fast Track Package
Our Fast-Track Application Package is a premium service for those who need to submit their application in time with their deadlines. Your case will become a top priority for our lawyers and you will benefit from our highest-quality services.
The Appeal Package
By choosing our Appeal Package, you can rely on our lawyers’ legal knowledge and experience to ensure you have the highest chance of a successful appeal. We will also fully represent you in any hearings/tribunals.
A child born in the UK to a British parent will gain British Citizenship automatically by birth.
If a child is born in the UK to non-British parents who then gain settled status, the child can register for British Citizenship.
A child can become a British citizen through the process of registration.
This applies if the child was born outside the UK to at least one British parent, or if a child was born inside the UK to non-British parents who are then granted settled status.
A child who is born in the UK to non-British parents does not have a right to British Citizenship as of 1983.
However, if the child’s parents gain settled status after the birth, the child becomes eligible for British Citizenship through registration.
If a child born in the UK is eligible for British Citizenship by descent then they can apply for a passport straight away through the GOV.uk website.
If a child is born in the UK to non-British parents who gain settled status once the child has been born, the child will need to register as a British citizen. After they have done this, they can then apply for their British passport.
More on the British passport application process.