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What is the difference between a British Citizen and a British national?

Determining the difference between a British citizen and a British national is based upon your right to abode within the United Kingdom.

If you want to check your eligibility or apply for British citizenship, our lawyers can help, for more information about our British citizenship application services speak to our team today on +44 (0)333 414 9244.

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British citizen vs British national

The difference between a British citizen and a British national refers to your right of abode.

Right of abode is based upon your eligibility to remain a permanent resident of a particular country. A person with a right of abode is completely free from immigration control and can live and work within the United Kingdom with no official permission required from the home office.

All individuals deemed British citizens have a right of abode within the United Kingdom, whereas not all British nationals have this same right.

a person holding a british passport

Types of British nationality

In 1983, the British nationality act came into force, bringing about a set of rules to determine UK nationality.

There are six different types of UK nationality set out by the British nationality act. These include:

  1. British Citizenship- As a person of British Citizenship you are free of any immigration control. You have full right of abode, meaning you can live and work in the UK free of restrictions. In addition, as a British Citizen, you can apply for a British passport. British Citizenship is determined by your birth location and date and your parents’ circumstances at the time of your birth.
  2. British overseas territories citizen (BOTC)- Individuals who have migrated to the United Kingdom from a British Overseas territory. British overseas territory citizen also refers to people who people born in the UK as decedents of these citizens. British overseas territories citizens can hold a British passport.
  3. British overseas citizen- A British overseas citizen, despite being a British national, does not have a right of abode. These are citizens that retained their British nationality post-independence.
  4. British subject- British subjects, up until 1949 were people who had a close connection to the United Kingdom. Commonwealth citizens were referred to as British subjects until 1983. Today, British subjects are minimal.
  5. British national (overseas)- British national (overseas) refers to people with relation to Hong Kong prior to 1997. These individuals became British national (overseas) citizens from this date.
  6. British protected person- You may have become a British protected person in 1983 if you were either a citizen or national of Brunei or were already of this status.

How do I know if I am a British Citizen?

Being born in the UK or being born to a British mother or a British father could mean that you are automatically a British citizen. There is a criteria set out which enables individuals to check if they qualify as a British citizen.

You can check your British citizenship status based on the following guidelines:

  • You were born in the United Kingdom or a British colony before 1st January 1983
  • You were born in the United Kingdom between 1st January 1983 and 1st October 2000
  • You were born in the United Kingdom between 2nd October 2000 and 29th April 2006
  • You were born in the United Kingdom between 30th April 2006 and 30th June 2021
  • You were born in the United Kingdom 1st July 2021 onwards
  • You were born outside of the United Kingdom or you are stateless

Upon checking out this criteria, if you do not automatically quality as a British citizen, you may be able to apply to become a British citizen.

Do you need help applying for a Skilled Worker Visa? Our lawyers can assist you.

I am a British national looking to become a British citizen

Naturalisation, or the process of becoming a British citizen can vary depending on your personal circumstances and British nationality status. It is important to check if you are eligible before you apply.

If you meet the criteria and opt to apply for naturalisation, it is essential to ensure you have permission to remain in the United Kingdom during the application process. This permission will need to be verified until the date of your ceremony of citizenship. Persons with indefinite leave to remain may use this as permission during the naturalisation process.

In order to apply, it is typically required that you must have lived within the United Kingdom for at least 5 years. As well as this you must have the following:

  • passed the life in the UK test
  • Demonstrable English language skills
  • Aged 18 or over
  • Acquire satisfactory character references

What if I am married to a British citizen?

If you are married or in a civil partnership with a British citizen, you will be required to apply as the spouse or civil partner of a British citizen. In addition, you must have either:

With these criteria in place, an individual can then apply to become a British citizen yourself and put in an application for a British passport afterwards.

How can IAS help?

Acquiring British citizenship allows an individual access to right of abode, to live and work throughout the United Kingdom without any immigration controls. Becoming British citizens can prove extremely beneficial.

By hiring one of our expert immigration lawyers, we can assist you with determining your current status, checking your eligibility, filling our your application form and submitting documents. As well as full support dealing with the home office on your demand. This way, your journey to apply for British citizenship becomes as smooth as possible.

Once you have obtained British citizenship, our lawyers can assist you in applying for your first British passport.

For more information about our citizenship services, get in touch with our team today on +44 (0)333 414 9244.

We can help you if you need help with your Skilled Worker Visa application.

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