Claiming British Citizenship by descent (grandparent) – also known as British Citizenship by double descent – is based on at least one of your grandparents being British. Double descent will require you to meet certain guidelines depending on when you and your grandparents were born. 

There are several ways that you can qualify for British Citizenship by descent (grandparent) but they must be provisional in law providing that a grandparent or great grandparent were classified as British or born in the UK.

In what circumstances are you eligible for British Citizenship by descent (grandparent)? 

There are 3 possible scenarios in which a claim will be relevant under British Citizenship by Double Descent:

  • Children who are under the age of 18 may be eligible for British Citizenship by descent

  • A person born before the 1st of January 1949

  • A person born before the 1st of January 1949

Children who are under the age of 18

Once a child turns 18, there are particular circumstances that normally apply for British Citizenship that are no longer available for applications. This is why it’s important that any applications for British Citizenship by descent (grandparent) are complete before the child turns 18. If a child is looking to claim British Citizenship by double descent before the age of 18, there are particular circumstances that can make them eligible:

  • A parent has spent at least 3 years in the UK where there hasn’t been an absence from the country for more than 270 days over the 3 year period and the relevant grandparent was born in the UK.

  • A parent will be staying in the UK for at least another 3 years in the future, providing that the child is still under the age of 18 when the application for British Citizenship by descent is made

  • A parent who is British has given birth to the child who is classed as ‘stateless’ when they are born (the child does not take up the citizenship of the country that they were born or the nationality of their parents) can be eligible to apply for British Citizenship by descent.

  • In exceptional circumstances, a discretionary registration is provided such as being gifted in sports, music or theatre etc. 

Adult Born After the 1st of January 1949

There are a number of situations where you can qualify for British Citizenship by descent (grandparent) under this scenario. This includes:

  • You or your parents being born in a former British Territory (British Protectorates, British Protected States, Mandated Territories, Foreign Countries with ETJ or Post 1949 Colonies)

  • If your parent is classed as a British Citizen you may be eligible to apply for British Citizenship by descent

  • You have a parent or grandparent that is in the Crown Service (British Military, Overseas Civil Service, Colonial Service or Diplomatic Corp)

  • You have parents that are married before 1949 and your mother was a British subject

Adult Born Before the 1st of January 1949

If you were born outside of the UK and claim to have a UK-born grandparent, you may be eligible to apply for British Citizenship by descent depending on your circumstances. These can be complex cases which means they must be assessed on a case by case basis. There are 3 common scenarios that occur under this circumstance:

  • You and your parents were not born in a Commonwealth country you were born before the year 1915

  • You or your parent were born in a former British Territory (See list above)

  • You’re a woman who was married to a British man before the year 1949

If you were born outside the UK to parents that are British Citizens, you are not automatically granted citizenship to the UK. This means you would be required to apply for British citizenship by descent and will be eligible providing you meet guidelines to qualify. 

What is the alternative to British Citizenship by double descent?

If you are not British but have a British grandparent and are a Commonwealth citizen then you have the option to apply for a UK Ancestry Visa as an alternative to applying for British Citizenship by descent (grandparent). In order to be eligible to apply for a UK Ancestry Visa, you would need to match the following requirements:

  • Be aged 17 or over

  • Prove that you’re able to support yourself whilst be accommodated in the UK

  • Have the intention to work in the UK

  • Be a Commonwealth citizen

  • Have a grandparent that was born in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, on a British-registered ship or aircraft or in the Republic of Ireland before 31st of March 1922.

It must be noted that if you have step-parents then you will be unable to claim for an Ancestry Visa. 

How can you apply for British citizenship by double descent?

In order to apply for British citizenship by double descent, you will initially have to apply for British Citizenship. It’s then though this process that you’ll be able to confirm whether or not you’re valid to apply through descent. 

Each application for British Citizenship by descent will be assessed by UKVI on an individual basis. Since this is a complex procedure with a number of routes depending on your age, it is advisable to get the help of an immigration expert. 

Are there British by double descent rules that I need to be aware of?

In order for you to qualify for British citizenship by double descent, there are particular guidelines that you need to match. The information provided on this page can help you find out how to get British citizenship by descent through your Grandparent.

How can IAS help with my British Citizenship by descent application? 

Your immigration lawyer will ensure you are eligible for British Citizenship by descent or double descent. Your lawyer will advise you on the best route for you towards British Citizenship, working closely to support your family. 

We can also advise on your other options to apply for British Citizenship by descent, such as the UK Ancestry Visa. Call us on +1844 290 6312 or use our online contact form to discuss your case and start your next steps.

FAQs

How do I get British Citizenship by double descent?

If you were born after January 1, 1983

These are the following circumstances in which you can claim double descent if you were born after 1983:

  • Your (British-born) grandfather was in crown service at the time of your relevant parent’s birth;
  • You or a parent were born in a former British colony;
  • Your parent had a British-born mother, non-British father and was registered as a British citizen between February 2nd and December 31st, 1982.

If you were born before January 1st, 1983

You may be able to claim British Citizenship by double descent when:

  • You/your parent was born in a former British territory (this excludes main Commonwealth countries of 1949);
  • You/your parent was a registered British citizen;
  • Your parent was in crown service when you were born;
  • Your parents were married before 1949 and your paternal grandfather was born in Britain;
  • Your maternal grandfather was born in the UK and you were born outside the EEA.

If you were born before January 1st, 1949

The most common cases of those born before 1949 claiming British Citizenship by descent (grandparent) include:

  • You and your parent were not in a Commonwealth country (must have been born before 1915);
  • You or your parent were born in a former British territory;
  • Your grandparent or parent was married to a British man before 1949.

Can I get a British passport if I had a British grandparent?

Only British citizens are able to apply for a British passport. Before you can begin this application, you must be registered or naturalized as a British citizen. If one or more of your grandparents was born in the UK, there may be some circumstances in which you could claim British Citizenship through them.

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