Getting citizenship for a child born outside of the UK
If a child is born abroad and at least one of their parents is a British national, they are classed as a British citizen by descent.
However, a baby in this scenario isn’t automatically granted UK citizenship unless they are also born on UK soil, and qualify for British citizenship by birth. In order to claim their citizenship by descent, they must first be registered as a British national.
To register a child as a British citizen, a parent can apply using the application form MN1. This must be done before the child or young person has their 18th birthday.
According to the British Nationality Act (1981), a child will automatically obtain British citizenship if they are born outside the UK to at least one parent who is British “otherwise than by descent.”
This applies to you if you or the other parent became a citizen through naturalisation, or otherwise gained citizenship through a method not including being passed down to you.
Our team of qualified immigration lawyers, based in Birmingham, can help you if you want to find out how to make a ‘British citizenship for child born abroad’ claim. Call us on 0121 667 6530 for more details.
Registration requirements for children and parents
To register a child who was born outside of the UK for citizenship, you and your child must fulfull several requirements:
The child must:
- Have been born outside the UK
- Be under the age of 18
- (If over the age of 10 at the time of application): be of ‘good character’
(At least one of) the child’s parents must:
- Be a British citizen
- Have lived in the UK for at least three years before the registration is made
The Application Process For Registering a Child Born Overseas For British Citizenship
To register a child for citizenship, and applying for a British passport for a child born abroad, you must submit a form MN1 and supporting documents that prove the child and the parent(s) meet(s) the requirements.
You also need to pay a registration fee of £460. You will also be charged an extra £50 for each child that is registering at the same time.
If the child applicant is living outside the UK at the time of application, it needs to be sent t the Home Office.
The MN1 application processing time for British citizenship for a child born abroad is usually processed within a a few months of being submitted.
Citizenship by descent
If a child is born to either one or two British parents (who were born in the UK) the child will be a British citizen by descent.
This means that they have a right to citizenship based on their parent’s claim. If a child has a grandparent who was/is a British national (again, born in the UK) they are eligible for British citizenship by double descent.
If a child is born in the UK to a British parent, they do not need to take any action; they are automatically a citizen. If the same child is born outside the UK, they are still a British citizen by descent, but they need to register for this citizenship. This is a relatively straightforward process and is very different to the British naturalisation process.
Documents Needed For British Citizenship For a Child Born Abroad
Unlike in naturalisation applications, the registration process for British citizenship for a child born overseas does not require proving they meet the ‘Life in the UK’ or English language requirements.
However, there are other documents that need to be submitted to support an application of this nature. These include:
- Biometric information for the applicant (including fingerprints and digital photographs)
- The reasons your child is being registered as a British citizen
- Passports and birth certificates for yourself and your applying child
Your child’s immigration history, including where outside the UK they were born.
Automatic British Citizenship For Children: Who Is Eligible?
If a child is born on British soil, to one or two parents who are British citizens (who were born in the UK themselves) the child is granted automatic citizenship. No action needs to be taken in this circumstance.
If a child is born on British soil and one or two of the parents are an EEA national (other than British), there is a chance they will still be automatically granted citizenship. This depends on when they were born. They will qualify if they were born between:
– 1 January 1983 and October 2nd 2000 (if at least one parent was living in the UK at the time)
– 2 October 2000 and April 2006 (if at least one parent held Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or permanent residence before the birth)
If a child is born outside of the UK, they will need to take some form of action to claim their citizenship or become a British citizen. In this case, they will either be a citizen by descent or British citizen otherwise than by descent.
This is usually either registration or naturalisation. Both processes are very different from one another. Registration, generally, is more straightforward and simple that naturalising as a British citizen.
Application Forms For Children Who Qualify For British Citizenship By Descent
If a child is a British citizen by descent, and needs to register for citizenship, the person applying on their behalf should submit form MN1 to the Home Office.
Form MN1 is made up of eight key section. These are:
- Personal information – this refers to the child and the parent
- Residence – this refers to where yourself and the child have lived in the past (including where the child was born)
- Good character – if the child who is registering has past his or her 10th birthday at the time of registration they must show they meet the British citizenship ‘good character requirement’. This focuses on whether they have any form of criminal history or penalties.
- References – you need to provide two references of two people who know your child. These people cannot be related and they must be professionals.
- Biometric information – you should provide the child’s fingerprints and photographs
- Consent – both parents must sign the consent section
- Declaration – you must declare anything you believe the Home Office should know and you should be open and honest in doing this.
Fees For Registering Children For British Citizenship
Currently, the cost to register a child as a British citizen is £1,012.
As well as this cost, there is a biometric enrolment fee of £19.20.
Form MN1 processing time
The MN1 processing time typically takes between two to four months but can take up to six months in some cases. The biometric information requirement can contribute to delays with your MN1 application to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).
It is recommended to submit your application as comprehensively as possible the first time to maximise your chances of a speedy and successful application.
Last modified on November 24th, 2023 at 12:10 pm
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You can make an application for a British passport on behalf of a child born abroad if:
- Your child is a British citizen by descent (meaning one or both of their parents are British nationals)
- Your child has successfully registered for British citizenship; or
- Your child has naturalised as a British citizen
If you or the other parent of your child is a British national, who was born in the UK, they can claim British citizenship easily through them.
However, if they were born abroad, they will not automatically be considered British. They must first register as a British citizen. After this process has been undergone, they will be classed as a British citizen and will have the same rights as all British nationals.
A child born to either a British father or mother is a citizen by descent. If this child is born outside of the UK (not on British soil) cannot exercise their rights as British citizens until they register their claim to citizenship.
This title refers to anyone who becomes a British citizen who does not have a nationality claim which they can make through either of their parents or grandparents. An example would be people who become citizens through the process of naturalisation – like non EEA nationals who apply after gaining ILR as the spouse of a UK national.
For children above the age of 10, the Home Office mandates a ‘good character’ criterion, indicating they should have no serious criminal records either within the UK or internationally. Kids younger than 10 are not subject to this requirement.