INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

British nationality law can be extremely complex. Advice and assistance from a competent qualified person is therefore strongly recommended.

IS A CHILD BORN IN THE UK A BRITISH CITIZEN?  

A child born in the UK, either of whose parents were, at the time of the child’s birth:

  • a British citizen or
  • settled in the UK (that means had indefinite leave to enter or remain or, if they were EEA citizens, had permanent residence)

was automatically born a British citizen, and s/he can apply to Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO) for a British passport for him or her. The passport application will need to be submitted with the child’s full birth certificate, proof of the parent(s)’ British citizenship or settled status at the time of the birth and a passport application fee of £49 (online).

WHEN MAY A YOUNG PERSON BE ABLE TO REGISTER AS A BRITISH CITIZEN?

There are several circumstances in which a young person in the UK, who is not already a British citizen, can apply to be registered as British. Three of the most common circumstances are briefly described below.

Scenario One (registration by entitlement under section 1(4) of the British Nationality Act 1981)

Someone will qualify to be registered as a British citizen if he or she applies to be registered and he or she:

  • was born in the UK; and
  • lived continuously in the UK from the time of his or her birth until his or her tenth birthday, with absences of no more than 90 days (three months) in any year of those ten years (if there are longer gaps, there may still be a right to become British depending on the circumstances); and
  • is of good character.

An application can be made at any time after the person’s tenth birthday, including after the person has become an adult.

Scenario Two (registration by entitlement under section 1(3) of the British Nationality Act 1981)

A child (i.e. someone under 18 years of age) will qualify to be registered as a British citizen if he or she applies to be registered and:

  • he or she was born in the UK; and
  • since his or her birth, at least one of his or her parents has been granted settled status in the UK (indefinite leave to remain), has acquired permanent residence or has become a British citizen; and
  • if he or she is aged 10 years or over, he or she is of good character.

If the child’s parents are not married, certain types of documentary evidence will be required to prove the father is the child’s father. This will be necessary where the application relies on the father’s settled or citizenship status, but not where it relies on the mother’s.

Scenario Three (registration by entitlement under paragraph 3 of 3A, Schedule 2 of the British Nationality Act 1981) 

A stateless person aged 18-21 years old will qualify to be registered as a British citizen if he or she applies to be registered and he or she:

  • was born in the UK; and
  • has always been stateless; and
  • has lived in the UK for a continuous period of more than five years to the time of making the application; and
  • has not been out of the country for more than 90 days in any of those five years (if there are longer gaps, there may still be a right to become British depending on the circumstances).

A stateless child aged 5- 17 years old will qualify to be registered as a British citizen if he or she applies to be registered and he or she:

  • was born in the UK; and
  • has always been stateless; and
  • has lived in the UK for a continuous period of more than five years to the time of making the application;
  • has not been out of the country for more than 90 days in any of those five year (if there are longer gaps, there may still be a right to become British depending on the circumstances); and
  • the Home Office is satisfied that the child cannot obtain another nationality.

The Home Office will not consider a child is able to obtain another nationality unless:

    1. one of the child’s parents has that nationality; and
    2. the child has been entitled to obtain that nationality since they were born (i.e. they have a right to that nationality, and it is not a matter of discretion whether the relevant country will grant them its nationality); and
    3. in all the circumstances it is reasonable to expect the child (or someone acting on their behalf) to take necessary steps for them to obtain that nationality.

General: ‘Statelessness’ does not mean not having a passport. It means that no country accepts the child as a citizen. Parents or carers would need proof from the country/countries of the parents’ citizenship that their child did not have that citizenship.

Scenario Four (registration at the discretion of the Secretary of State under section 3(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981)

A child (i.e. someone under 18 years of age) may qualify to be registered as a British citizen if he or she applies to be registered and:

  • if he or she is aged 10 years or over, he or she is of good character; and
  • the child’s future clearly lies in the UK.

Unlike in the previous three scenarios, in this scenario the decision on whether to register the child is at the discretion of the Home Office. Generally, the Home Office will exercise its discretion in favour of registering the child as British if:

  • the child is living in the UK
  • the child has been granted settled status (indefinite leave to remain); and
  • one of the child’s parents is a British citizen; and
  • the other parent has been granted settled status (indefinite leave to remain) or is unlikely to return or be required to return to his or her country of origin.

However, if the child has lived in the UK from a very young age and has lived here for many years, it may be argued that the child has strong connection and his/her future clearly lies in the UK, and that it would be in the child’s best interests to be registered as British.

Citizenship fee 

In all four of these scenarios, there is a fee to register as a British citizen. Application fees are from time to time increased, and this may happen at very short notice. Currently, if the registration request is made by a child, the fee is £1,012. If it is made by an adult, it is £1,206. Whether or not the application is successful, the fee is not reimbursed – i.e. the fee is lost either way.

Since 16 June 2022, there is an exemption from the fee for all looked after children.

Since 16 June 2022, the Home Office may waive the fee if the person is a child and it is his/her best interests to be registered and the child cannot afford the fee.

Registration application form

Various information and documentary evidence is required to make an application. Applications can be made on an application form issued by the Home Office online or by post.

There is no requirement to use the Home Office form. However, it is advisable to use this. From time to time the Home Office updates the form, often at short notice.

Please note: The information set out here does not cover all the circumstances in which someone – including a child – may become a British citizen.

Please read our leaflets: “Children and their Rights to British Citizenship”

Printable copy of our General Leaflet HERE

Printable copy of our joint “Children of EEA/Swiss Nationals” Leaflet  HERE

However, please note that due to recent changes of law and policy, some sections of our leaflet are out of date. PRCBC will be publishing a revised leaflet in November 2022.

Joint PRCBC & Amnesty International UK article on Reasserting Rights to British Citizenship Through Registration (Journal of Immigration, Asylum and Nationality):

IANL Reasserting rights to British citizenship through registration 34.2

July 2022

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