What is British Citizenship by Birth?
British citizenship by birth may appear to be a straightforward matter of a child born in the UK who automatically becomes a British national, however it is in fact much more complex than this and depends on both parent’s status and place of birth.
A child born in the UK is not automatically granted citizenship. The UK’s nationality law has changed significantly over time, meaning that different rules apply depending on the date of an individual’s birth and their personal circumstances.
Factors considered include where the child was born, whether their parent/(s) were British nationals/held settled status in the UK at the time of birth and more.
A child who is born outside of the UK to parents who are British nationals but who were also born outside of the UK is not automatically British at birth. This is important and can cause difficulties for children who are believed to be British but may not be eligible through birth.
While a vast majority of British nationals will have acquired British citizenship automatically by birth, this is not the case for all. This is sometimes referred to as British citizenship ‘by operation of law’, since neither the parents nor the child need to register the child for citizenship – it automatically happens.
Automatic British Citizenship by Birth
Under the British Nationality Act 1981, most individuals born in the UK with a right of abode automatically became British citizens on 1st January 1983.
Since 1st January 1983, those born in the UK do not have an automatic right to citizenship. This marked a shift in nationality law as those born after this date were subject to new requirements.
They must instead meet specific criteria. To be granted British citizenship at birth, you must:
- Have at least one parent who is a British national/holds settled status in the UK at the time of birth
A parent who holds ‘settled status in the UK’ must either hold Indefinite Leave to Remain, Permanent Residence under EU law or the right of abode.
If a child is born in the UK to parents who are neither British citizens nor hold settled status in the UK, they will only become eligible for citizenship when at least one of their parents becomes a British citizen or acquires permission to stay in the UK permanently on ILR or EU Settlement Status.
Do I have to register my child for British citizenship by birth?
Children born in the UK to non-British nationals are able to register for citizenship once their parents have acquired ILR or Settled Status.
However, children who are born in the UK to parents who are not British nationals but who already hold settled status in the UK do not need to register their child for citizenship as they automatically obtain this at birth.
If your child is under the age of 18, you must apply for registration on their behalf. However, before you can include them within your citizenship application, they must hold Indefinite Leave to Remain. Only those over the age of 18 are eligible to naturalise as British citizens.
If your child is over 13 years of age, they can qualify for Naturalisation if they have lived in the UK for at least two years prior to their application for registration. To register your child as a British national, you must complete an online form and will be asked to attend an appointment at your nearest UKVCAS service point.
Here, you will be asked to provide your biometric information and can have your application documents scanned and copied.
Is my child a British citizen if they were born abroad?
If your child was born outside of the UK but has at least one parent who was a British citizen at the time of birth, they can acquire British nationality.
If both parents were born in the UK, their child will automatically acquire British citizenship.
However, if the parents of a child born outside of the UK naturalised as British citizens through descent – i.e. if they also were not born in the UK but acquired British citizenship at a later date – their child will not automatically acquire citizenship.
Therefore, children born outside of the UK to parents who are British nationals but were also born outside of the UK must register to be granted British nationality. This similarly applies to children who were born abroad and adopted by British parents.
Children under the age of 18 are eligible to apply or register for British citizenship on the condition that:
- Both of their 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
- The child is of good character (this is only a condition if the child is aged ten or older)
Our team of immigration experts in Birmingham have extensive experience in preparing applications for British citizenship; we can offer immediate assistance and legal advice relating to all immigration matters.
Contact our client care team on 0121 667 6530.
What is the application form for British Citizenship by birth?
If you are hoping to acquire British citizenship by birth, the form you must complete and submit to the Home Office is Form MN1.
This is because applying for British citizenship by birth is deemed registering for citizenship as opposed to naturalising as a British national.
This is why there are two separate application forms for those applying via this route and those who are naturalising.
You are able to complete and submit Form MN1 if you are living either in the UK, in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or a British Overseas Territory.
Form MN1 requires the applicant to provide documentation and information surrounding your birth, nationality, parentage, criminal history and immigration history.
Parents are able to complete the application form on the behalf of their child if they are under the age of 18.
Within this application to register as a British citizen by birth, you must provide the details of two referees.
Both individuals will support your application and must be professionals who are not related to you (the applicant). They must confirm the applicant’s identity and also highlight the reasons why they are entitled to British citizenship.
To find out how our immigration experts in Birmingham can assist with your Form MN1 application, contact us today on 0121 667 6530.
What is the law surrounding surrogacy and citizenship in the UK?
The rules and regulations regarding surrogacy in the UK are extremely complex. The same can therefore be said of nationality law on surrogacy.
Many parents often question how they can register their child as a British national after surrogacy outside the UK. Unfortunately, there is no set route as it entirely depends upon your personal circumstances including the country the child is born in.
If your child is born in the UK and has a British citizen legal parent (this includes a UK surrogate) they will acquire British nationality by birth.
Similarly, if your child is born abroad and has a parent who is a British national, they will typically qualify as British by descent though this is of course subject to certain criteria.
This may be the case if the surrogate is not married and the father (or sperm provider) registered on the birth certificate is British. If IVF has been used to plant the sperm and eggs in the woman, the couples’ nationality will be considered.
To enquire for further assistance regarding British citizenship and surrogacy in the UK, contact our OISC accredited immigration lawyers in Birmingham on 0121 667 6530.
What is the process of British citizenship by adoption?
The Adoption and Children Act 2002 holds that any child adopted by order of a court in the UK or in a British overseas territory – with at least one of the adoptive parents being a British citizen at the time of the adoption order – will automatically become a British citizen.
This is known as British citizenship ‘other than by descent’.
This also applies if one or both of the adoptive parents are habitually resident in the UK; the adopted child can apply for British citizenship by birth on this basis.
In any other circumstance, however, the adopted child will not automatically acquire British nationality. The child must acquire citizenship through registration.
An adopted child is typically eligible to register for citizenship if:
- The child was adopted before 3rd January 2014 in a ‘designated country’
- The child was adopted after 3rd January 2014 in a country that is listed in the Adoption Order 2013 or the Adoption (Scotland) Regulations 2013 and the Adoption (Recognition of Overseas Adoptions) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations
- It was a Hague Convention adoption
Children that were adopted from overseas prior to 1st June 2003 do not automatically qualify for a British passport.
How To Apply For a British Passport For My Children
If you have children under 16, you can apply for their British passports, which generally take around three weeks to arrive.
Both parents, or those with parental responsibility, must provide their details and signatures. If this isn’t possible, you’ll need to submit a written explanation on why the two parents cannot provide details and signatures.
Children aged 12 to 15 should sign the application themselves. For first-time applicants, a person of your choosing must verify your child’s identity.
This referee should be a British citizen, and someone you have known for at least two years, and holds a job in a recognized profession.
The HM Passport Office will contact this individual during the application process.
As of February 2023, child passport fees are £53.50 for online applications and £64 for paper forms from a Post Office.
Documents Needed For The Application For a British Passport for a Child
To secure a British passport for your child, you’ll need to supply specific original documents or authorized certificate copies. Neither certified copies nor photocopies are acceptable and will invalidate your application.
In addition to the British passport application form, you should also submit:
- Your child’s complete birth or adoption certificate. If the name on the certificate and passport don’t match, you must provide a letter from a parent or guardian confirming the name change, along with evidence of the new name in official records.
- Any former valid foreign passport your child may have.
- Proof of your child’s British nationality.
If any documents are in a language other than English or Welsh, certified translations are required.
Our Team Can Help You With Anything Related To British Citizenship By Birth & More!
Our team of immigration lawyers in Birmingham are OISC-accredited and have extensive experience in dealing with all matters of immigration, nationality and asylum law – including British citizenship.
Our comprehensive packages aim to suit a wide range of needs. For example, if you simply require professional, tailored legal advice regarding your eligibility for British citizenship by birth, our Advice Package would be ideal for you.
On the other hand, if you require help with the completion and submission of your application to the Home Office, take a look at our cost-effective Application Package.
For those who have already submitted an application to the Home Office and have not received the result they had hoped for, our Appeal Package may be best suited to you and your circumstances. With this package, our immigration specialists can assess your eligibility to submit an appeal against the Home Office’s decision and can proceed with this if you qualify, and we will represent you throughout hearings and tribunals.
Regardless of which package would be best for you, why not reach out to our client care team today who can arrange for a consultation with our immigration advisors?
Last modified on November 24th, 2023 at 12:01 pm
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If you are submitting an application on behalf of your child, you may need to prove that they are ‘of good character’. However, this only applies to children who are over the age of 10.
If your child is under 10 years of age, they do not need to meet the ‘good character’ requirement in order to qualify for British citizenship.
In order to meet the good character requirement, children over the age of 10 must:
- Have demonstrated respect for UK law by not committing any crimes, including terrorism, war crimes and any activities considered to be ‘not conducive to the public good’
- Not have been in breach of any immigration laws
Once you have submitted your application, the Home Office will consider your child’s criminal and immigration history in order to determine whether they do or do not meet the good character requirement.
In rare, extreme circumstances, those under the age of 10 may still be refused citizenship if the Home Office believes that their character may prove to seriously harm the good of the British public.
To register for UK citizenship, there is a fee of £1,012. In addition to this, you are also required to pay a cost of £19.20 to have your biometric information taken. At such a steep cost, it may be crucial that you achieve the result you are hoping for with your first application.
This cannot be guaranteed since the Home Office regularly rejects applications, however with our team of immigration lawyers based in Birmingham, your application stands the best chance of success.
We know the common errors to avoid, the level of supporting documentation required and we will provide a Letter of Representation when submitting your application to the Home Office.
To enquire, call us today on 0121 667 6530.
A status letter should not be mistaken for a nationality certificate. The status letter simply reflects the UKVI’s evaluation of a person’s nationality.
A formal determination of British citizenship can only be made by the courts. Status letters can serve as a way to confirm how you and your children may become British nationals based on your individual circumstances.
You can request this document by completing Form NS. If you’re looking to confirm your existing status as a UK national, it’s advisable to apply for a British passport or a certificate of entitlement to the right of abode.
The UK government permits British citizens to have dual citizenship. This implies that if you are a foreign national who has become a naturalized British citizen, you can continue to maintain your original nationality.