How to apply for British Citizenship by Birth
British citizenship by birth cannot always be acquired through one of the parents’ status. Furthermore, UK immigration law no longer recognises every child born in the UK as a British national.
Consequently, children can receive British citizenship by birth only based on specific circumstances. For instance, British nationality can be automatically acquired when both parents are settled in the UK. Differently, children of British nationals born abroad will need to be registered for citizenship.
If you wish to learn more about your options to register your children for British nationality, you can get in touch with IAS’ team of immigration lawyers.
How can I register my children for British citizenship by birth?
Only applicants aged 18 or above can naturalise as British Citizenship. If your children are under the age of 18, you will need to apply for registration. However, before they can be included in your citizenship application, they must hold Indefinite Leave to Remain.
Children who are over the age of 13 can qualify for Naturalisation only if they have lived in the UK for at least two years prior to their application for registration.
Children who were born in the UK from non-British nationals will be entitled to register for citizenship as soon as their parents acquire ILR or Settlement Status. On the other hand, children of non-British parents who are already settled in the UK will automatically obtain nationality at birth.
To register your children for British citizenship, you can fill in the online form. You will then be asked to book an appointment at your nearest UKVCAS service point to provide your biometric information.
You can also have your application documents scanned and copied at one of these centres.
Do children of UK nationals born abroad obtain British citizenship by birth?
Children born outside the country from UK nationals can acquire British nationality “otherwise than by descent”. This means that he or she will, in turn, be able to transmit this status to future generations born either abroad or in the UK.
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 British citizenship providing that:
- 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. Differently, if the parents are both British nationals but were born abroad, children will need to be registered for nationality. The same applies to children born abroad who were adopted by British parents.
Do children born in the UK automatically acquire British citizenship?
Your entitlement to apply for British citizenship if you were born in the UK depends on your circumstances.
Children born on or after 1st January 1983
If you or your children were born in the UK on or after 1t January 1983, you could be eligible for British citizenship. To qualify, you must either:
- Be under the age of 18.
- Have lived in the UK until you were 10 or older.
You will acquire your nationality status only when at least one of your parents becomes a British citizen, or at least get permission to stay in the UK permanently on ILR or EU Settlement Status.
If you meet the above requirements, you will not need to register for citizenship.
Children born before 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.
To ensure that you hold British nationality, you can ask for a letter of confirmation of your status.
How do you acquire British citizenship by descent?
Through British citizenship by descent, individuals who were not born abroad can naturalise in the UK based on their parents or grandparents’ nationality status.
To qualify, the child’s parents need to be British nationals and to have lived in the UK for a continuous period of at last three years, with no more of 270 days of absence. One of the parents must also have acquired his or her British citizenship status otherwise by descent.
In other words, a child who is a citizen of the UK by descent, cannot transmit this status to subsequent generations overseas.
In some instances, eligible children are not automatically citizens of the UK but need to register for their nationality status. The law is applied as follow:
- Children born 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 between 1983 and June 2006 could acquire UK citizenship if one of the parents was a British national at the time of the birth.
- Children born 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.
You can register for citizenship by descent either online or submitting a paper application on Form MN1. The application can be made from both within the UK or abroad.
Can I acquire British citizenship by adoption?
According to the 1981 British Nationality Act, as amended by the 2002 Adoption and Children Act, children adopted on or after 1st January 1983 acquire British citizenship automatically if one of the adopters is a UK national.
A child who is not already a British citizen also acquires UK nationality, providing that at least one of the adopters is habitually resident in the country or one of the designated territories.
Children who are subject to a parental order made in a UK court can become British citizens if the person making the order is UK national.
British citizenship acquired by adoption is not lost if the adoption or parental order ceases to have effect.
It must be noted that children adopted overseas before 1st June 2003 do not automatically qualify for a British passport.
How can my children get a British passport?
You can apply for your children’s passport if they are under the age of 16. On average, it takes up to three weeks to receive a child passport.
To apply for a passport for your children, you will need the details and the signatures of both parents or any person with parental responsibility. If you cannot provide this information, you must prepare a written statement to explain your circumstances. Children between the age of 12 to 15 are required to sign the application form.
If your child has never had a British passport, you must apply for a first child passport. Once you have submitted your request, you will need someone of your choice to confirm your child’s identity. This person must be a British citizen, have known you for at least 2 years and work in a recognised profession. The HM Passport Office will get in touch with your referee as a part of your passport application process.
A British passport for a child costs £49 if you apply online, or £58.50 if you submit your paper form from a Post Office.
What documents are needed to apply for a British passport for my child?
To apply for a British passport for your child, you must provide specific documentation. The UKVI will accept only original documents or official copies of certificates. Certified copies and photocopies are not accepted and will make your application invalid.
Along with your British passport application form, you must submit:
- 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.
- Any previous valid passport from a different country belonging to your child.
- Evidence that your child is a British national.
If your documents are not in English or Welsh, you will need to provide certified translations.
What is the British citizenship by birth application form?
To register your child under the age of 18 for British citizenship by birth or adoption you can use the Form MN1.
This form can be filed by applicants living either in the UK or in the Channel Islands, Isle of Man or any other British Overseas Territory.
Section 5 of Form MN1 must be completed with the details of your referees. These persons need to confirm your child’s identity and be willing to advise the Home Office of any reasons why the applicant deserves to get citizenship status.
Both parents are also required to provide their personal information and their consent.
If you are a single parent or you cannot produce details of your child’s biological parents, you must attach to your form a written statement to explain your situation.
Those who were born before 1983 and wish to apply for registration, need to use a different form, that is Form UKM.
British Citizenship by Birth Application Advice
At IAS, our lawyers can guide you and your family through each step of your British citizenship by birth application. By hiring our experts, you can entrust your case to one of our best OISC accredited professionals. Hire our immigration lawyers to find out how we can maximise your chances of success.
Call us on 0333 363 8577 or make an enquiry online to begin your British Citizenship by birth application.
British Citizenship by Birth Application Assistance
Since acquiring British citizenship by birth may be a complicated process, it is advisable to seek legal guidance. Our lawyers have already helped several families to settle in the UK, and are happy to review your case and discuss your options for registering your children as British nationals. Speak to our experts to learn how we can help you complete your citizenship by birth application.
Call us on 0333 363 8577 or make an enquiry online to begin your British citizenship by birth application.
Will my child born through surrogacy be British?
At the moment, UK Immigration and Nationality law on surrogacy is particularly complex, since each case is different and may require a different route to ensure that the child acquires British citizenship.
Children born through surrogacy need to be registered for UK nationality and, consequently, for a British passport.
Details of your child’s situation must be included in your passport application form.
If a parental order has been granted in the UK on or after 6th April 2010, your child can acquire nationality through his or her parents’ name.
Where the parents are on the same sex, the parent whose details appear first on the parental order will be considered “mother or parent 1”. This information will not be printed on your child’s passport.
Does my child need to be of "good character"?
To be accepted as a British citizen, you must demonstrate your good character, meaning that you must have observed UK laws since the date you entered the country.
According to the UK Nationality Law, all applicants aged 10 or over must meet the “good character” requirements. To qualify, your children 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.
When assessing whether a child is of good character, the Home Office will take into account his or her age and potential particular circumstances.
Will my child need to attend a citizenship ceremony?
Only applicants aged 18 or over are required to take an Oath to receive their citizenship certificate. Nevertheless, children who wish to attend a citizenship ceremony will be asked to swear an Oath of Allegiance and pledge their loyalty to the UK. Following this ceremony, they will be presented with their certificate of Naturalisation and will be able to apply for a British passport.
If your child does not speak English or has special needs, you can request the service of a certified interpreter.
Can my children hold multiple or dual citizenship in the UK?
Before registering your children for British nationality, you should check if this may result in the loss of their present citizenship. On the other hand, since UK law recognises the right to hold dual or multiple nationalities, you do not have to renounce your status in the UK if you wish to naturalise in another country.
It must be noted that, if the country of which your children are currently citizens accept dual nationalities, they may continue to be subject to their duties of citizens (such as undergoing military service) of that country when they are not in the UK.
What is the British citizenship by birth fee?
It costs £1,012 to register your children for British citizenship.
This does not include an additional charge of £80 to book your citizenship ceremony, that is mandatory only for applicants aged 18 or over.
You may also be asked to pay £19.20 to have your fingerprints and photos taken.
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 must not be confused with a certificate of nationality. In fact, this document merely records the UKVI’s assessment of a person’s nationality status. Only the courts can determine conclusively whether someone officially holds British citizenship.
Status letters can be used to obtain confirmation of how you and your children can acquire British nationality depending on your circumstances. You can require this document by using the Form NS. If you wish to establish whether you are already recognised as a UK national, you should apply for a British passport or a certificate of entitlement to the right of abode
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A child born in the UK does not automatically receive British citizenship by birth. For a child to be registered as a British citizen at birth, one or more parents will need to hold British Citizenship or ‘settled status’.
You can most often apply for settled status after five years of continuous residence. If you have not lived in the UK for five years or more before your child is born, you may still be able to apply after five years. Once you have received either Indefinite Leave to Remain or EEA PR, your child can be registered as a British citizen.
The application to register as a British citizen is separate from settled status. Your child will not automatically receive British Citizenship by birth once you have settled status.
More information on how to apply for UK settlement
There are two ways to apply for British Citizenship: Registration or Naturalisation. For children under 18, registration will be the necessary route.
Each type of application has many variations depending on an applicant’s personal situation. The level of evidence required for an application for British Citizenship by birth is very high and requires a lot of detail.
For the best chance of success, seeking the advice of an experienced immigration lawyer is advised.
More information about British Citizenship for children born abroad
If you and your partner are both subject to the Immigration Rules, your child will be recognised as your dependent at birth. This means the child has no automatic right to remain in the UK and is subject to the same visa rules as you.
To ensure your child is able to stay in the UK and grow up, you will need to first receive settled status or British Citizenship. Because your child does not have the right of British Citizenship by birth, they will need to be registered once they become eligible.
If your child is eligible for British Citizenship by descent – e.g. at least one parent is British, then they will be able to apply for a passport straight away.
For a child born in the UK to non-British parents with settled status, you will first have to register them as a British citizen. Once this application is successful, you can apply for a British passport for your child.
Any children born in the UK to non-British parents who are in the country on any other visa will have no right to apply for a British passport.
More information on applying for a British passport
We know that applications to a register as a British citizen are very serious. We understand the importance of securing the status of your family. With our services, you can be sure that your application will be completed thoroughly and to a professional standard.
Your lawyer will:
- Confirm your child is eligible and complete all application forms in full;
- Undertake a detailed document check, suggesting alternatives where necessary;
- Write a Letter of Representation. This letter provides the merits of your case along with references to relevant UK case law to support you;
- Liaising with the Home Office until they make a decision.
Contact us on 0333 363 8577 today or make an enquiry online to start your child’s application for British citizenship by birth or for more information from one of our expert immigration lawyers.