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An individual may lay claim to British citizenship in several ways; either by birth, ancestry, or 5 years legal residence in the UK, with Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) for at least 12 months, amongst many others.

UK Citizenship Requirements

For foreign nationals who seek to naturalise as British, the following requirements need to be met:

  • UK residency for at least 3 years and is a settled person (ILR/Permanent Residence) as of the time of the application
  • The application would have been in the UK from the start of the 3 years
  • The applicant's absences must not exceed 270 days throughout the 3-year period
  • Prior to the application, i.e. the last year during the 3-year period, the absences must not exceed ninety days
  • The applicant must meet the good character requirement
  • The applicant must pass the Life In The UK Test
  • Meet the English Language requirement
  • Demonstrable intention to live in the United Kingdom

British Passport Application

The Identity and Passport Service (IPS) of the UK government are known for the issuance of British passports. An interview with the IPS must be attended by the individual applying for a passport for the first time to confirm their identity. Anyone applying for the passport must be aged 16 and above. It is recommended that an individual will give an allowance of 6 weeks for the passport application to be processed. Individuals are advised not to make any travel arrangements until they receive their passport.

In the case of urgent passports, where an individual needs an urgent passport renewal, IPS offers two types of services which are;

  • Fast-track one-week service
  • Premium one day service

An appointment is required at the Passport Office if both types of services commences. There are also some situations where additional time might be needed to assess an individual's application, such as contacting the individual's counter-signature or confirming the details of the application.

IPS can be contacted for advice - to make an appointment, call 0300 222 0000.

Registration as a British Citizen If You Had Previously Given up British Citizenship

There may be several reasons for re-registering as a British citizen. Being born outside the UK to British parents in a country that either doesn't permit dual nationality, or only permits it on restricted grounds, is one major example.

Nationality is commonly renounced when the individual in question is looking to hold a political office and/or holds a public office in a country where they hold dual citizenship.

Please note that, renouncing your British citizenship may not allow you to re-apply for your British nationality in every scenario.

Resuming Your British Nationality

To reapply, you need to complete the form RS1 and pay the appropriate fee. These are some of the documents you will need to support your application:

  • A copy of your declaration of renunciation
  • Identity documents
  • A letter from the country you are currently a citizen of stating that if you hadn't given up your British citizenship, you'd have lost or failed to get your current citizenship or nationality

Resumption as of Right

The British Nationality Act 1981 posits that resuming British citizenship is allowed if renunciation was important to allow the applicant to retain or acquire citizenship of another country. Please note that the applicant can only, as a matter of right, resume nationality just once.

Please note that if you relinquished your nationality voluntarily, you may not be able to apply to resume your UK nationality as a matter of right. This means the only time you could be able to resume your nationality as a matter of right is where you have had to relinquish your UK Nationality to serve another country which forbids you from having dual nationality.

If an individual has previously given up their British citizenship, they can apply to resume their British citizenship if they are in the right state of mind, alongside:

  • having made a formal statement to relinquish British citizenship after 1 January 1983;
  • having made a formal statement to give up citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies before 1 January 1983;
  • being born, naturalised or registered in the United Kingdom; or
  • being a recorded citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies in an independent Commonwealth Country

British Citizenship Application

You will be authorised to make an application for British Nationality by Naturalisation if:

  • You are 18 years old or more;
  • You are credible and you do not have a serious criminal record or have been involved in any form of unlawful immigration act in the last ten years;
  • You intend to take up continuous residence in the United Kingdom;
  • You fulfil the requirements for Life In The UK and English Language;
  • You fulfil the requirement for residence in the United Kingdom

You are required to:

  • Have spent a minimum of five years in the United Kingdom prior to the application date, during which you should spend no more than 450 days outside the country
  • Have not spent more than 90 days outside the United Kingdom in the last twelve months prior to your application
  • Have been issued ILR in the last twelve months (if you are a national of a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA))
  • Be a citizen of an EEA country or you are a permanent resident for the last twelve months. You will be required to make a permanent residence document available
  • Have not breached any of the UK Immigration laws

If your husband/wife/civil partner is a British National, you will need to meet different requirements.  

It is important to note that any time spent in the UK away from the control of the UKVI as a diplomat or Armed Forces officer will not be counted among the five-year period.

Registration of a Child as British Citizen - MN1 Application

Application for registration as British nationals (MN1 Application) by children (under the age of 18) to the UKBA is possible. If the child is 18 years old, they will be required to make the application for naturalisation by making use of the AN form.

The sections of the British Citizenship Act of 1981 concerning child registration as a British National are as follows:

  1. Section 1 (3): A child who is born in the United Kingdom to parents who have taken up residence in the United Kingdom or who have become British Nationals.
  2. Section 1 (3A): A child born in the United Kingdom, whose parents are members of the armed forces.
  3. Section 3 (1): A child whose parents are British Nationality applicants.
  4. Section 3 (2): A child who is born in a foreign country to parents who are British citizens by ancestry and have resided in a British Overseas Territory or the UK.
  5. Section 3 (5): A child who is born in a foreign country to parents who are British citizens by ancestry and are presently residing in a British Overseas Territory or the UK.
  6. Section 3 (1): A child who is adopted in a foreign country to parents who are nationals of the UK.
  7. Section 3 (1): A child whose parents have relinquished and later resumed British Nationality.
  8. Section 3 (1): In any other case not listed that has been contemplated to be for the benefit of the child that they be granted British Nationality.
  9. Section 4D: A child born in a foreign country to parents who are serving in the military.

Registration as a British Citizen - Age 10

Application For Registration As A British Citizen If You Were Born In The UK On Or After 1 January 1983 And Lived Here Up To The Age Of 10

For an individual to be registered as a British National they must:

  • have been born in the United Kingdom;
  • have been born on or after 1 January 1983;
  • be 10 years of age or over;
  • have spent no more than 90 days outside the UK in each of the first 10 years of their life

However, if the applicant has spent more than 90 days outside the UK, the UKBA can make an exception if the reason for this situation is exceptional. This reason should be explained on the application form.

Registration as a British Citizen by a Person Born Before 1983 to a British Mother

An individual is entitled to register as a British citizen if:

  1. They were born before the 1st of January 1983;
  2. At the time of birth would have become a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by descent if women had been able to pass this citizenship on to their children in the same way as men;
  3. They would have been entitled to reside in the United Kingdom on the 1st of January 1983, and become a British citizen if they had become a national of the United Kingdom and Colonies;
  4. They are of good character

It is necessary that the applicant fulfils all the requirements for their application. However, you cannot make the application using the form UKM. More so, the reason why many applications fail when using the form UKM is because the applicant fulfils the second requirement, but not the third.

If you would have become a British Citizen or a British dependent territories citizen on the 1st of January, 1983, you will not be entitled for registration if women had the ability to pass citizenship on or before that date.

Application by a British Subject for Registration as a British Citizen

You may be eligible for applying for British citizenship if you meet the following requirements:

  • You have resided continuously in the UK for at least 5 years (the qualifying period)
  • You must have been a resident in the UK for a consecutive 5-year period, starting from the date of your application
  • The total number of days you must have spent outside the UK must not be in excess of forty-five days during the qualifying period
  • Just prior to your application, you must not have resided outside the UK for a period in excess of ninety days

It is important to note that periods spent away from immigration control will be discounted as part of the qualifying period.

British Citizenship Based on the Crown or Related Service

To meet the requirements for British citizenship registration based on the Crown or similar service, you will need to show that:

  • You have been or are now under crown service; or
  • You have now or previously been chosen to serve the crown as a member of an organisation established by British law from a British overseas territory

It should be noted that been granted citizenship based on the Crown is only possible in rare cases. As such the individual must demonstrate that:

  • They hold or have been in a responsible role
  • Have served in an exceptional manner within that role
  • They have strong and close ties to the country

Application by  British Protected Person for Registration as a British Citizen

People who are British Protected Persons might be qualified for registration as a British National under one of the accompanying criteria below:

Enrolment on the Basis of 5 Years Residence

To be allowed to enrol under the 5 years living arrangement, you must meet these requirements:

  • You have surpassed the qualifying time frame, which is living in the UK for at least five years
  • You resided in the UK for five years before the date of your application
  • You have resided outside the UK for over 450 days within the 5-year period
  • You have not spent over ninety days outside the UK within the twelve months of your 5-year period
  • You have not breached the UK Immigration rules amid this five-year time frame
  • You have not have breached any of the time limits of your immigration conditions with regards to the most recent 12 months of your private qualifying period (5 years) in the UK. Your private qualifying period will be registered on the day you present your application to guarantee you have effectively finished this qualifying period. As a result, if your application is received 5th August 2012, you will need to demonstrate you were in the UK on the 6th August 2007

Be that as it may, at whatever time you have spent away from the control of the migration won't be considered as part of your five-year private qualifying period. Time of confinement in the UK, or time of appearance as a negotiator or military guest, will be viewed as periods absolved from the control of the UK movement.

Enrolment on the Basis of Crown or Similar Service

You might be qualified to register as a British Citizen on the off chance that you don't satisfy the requirements of the five-year residency period - this can be done as a British Citizen on the premise of your crown or related service.

To be qualified for this, you will be required to demonstrate that:

  • You have, under the legislature of a British Overseas domain, been or are as of now in Crown Service; or
  • You have been or are at present designated by or for the benefit of the crown service as an individual from a body set up by law in a British Overseas domain

To be allowed British Citizenship on the premise of the Crown is conceivable, but only under uncommon conditions. This makes it essential that the applicant demonstrates that:

  • They have either been in or are as of now a holder of a respected position;
  • They have served in an extraordinary way in that position; and
  • They have close ties with the UK

British Citizenship by BOC

An individual, who is a British Overseas Citizen (BOC), may be eligible to register as a British person under one of the following criteria:

5 Years Legal Residency

You may be able to register for British citizenship if you have lived continuously and legally (without breaking British laws) in the UK. You will need to meet the following requirements:

  • Whilst in the UK for 5 years, you must not have spent any more than 450 days outside the country throughout that period
  • In the last year, and at the time of application, you must not have stayed out of the UK for a period of more than ninety days
  • You must have lived in the UK lawfully throughout this period
  • Within the five-year period, you must have not been in breach of any immigration laws; especially regarding lawful residence. This means you must have had valid leave throughout your stay in the UK

With regards to lawful residence, the following will not count as time away from immigration control (unlawful residence) - time spent in detention, or periods of work on diplomatic trips or being a member of the military.

Registration on the Basis of Crown or Similar Service

Having resided in the UK for a period of 5 years, lawfully and continuous registration for British Citizenship on the basis of the Crown or similar service is also possible if:

  • The applicant either currently is or has been under Crown Service
  • The applicant either is or has been appointed for service by the Crown as a member of an organisation recognised by law in a British Overseas territory

It is very important to note that British Citizenship based on service to the Crown is only possible under exceptional circumstances. To be granted British citizenship under this route, you will need to show the following: 

  • That you are currently holding a high and responsible position
  • You have served the position above in an exceptional manner; and
  • You have a close link to the UK

Registration as British Citizen if you are a British National (Overseas) with no Other Nationality

If you are looking to register as a British citizen as an overseas person with no nationality, the following requirements need to be met:

  • You must be a British National (overseas)
  • You must not have held any other country's citizenship or nationality
  • You must not have renounced any citizenship or nationality
  • You must not have lost any citizenship or nationality by action or inaction

You must make sure you are not already a citizen before you make an application for naturalisation - it is possible for individuals to be citizens/nationals of a country without ever holding a passport, or having been issued one by the authorities of that country.

Application by BNO for Registration as a British Citizen

The Hong Kong Act 1985 gave rise to the status of British National (Overseas), which was further incorporated into Section 4 (1) and was enforced on the 1st of July 1987 by Article 7 (2) of the Hong Kong (British Nationality) Order of 1986.

You are authorized as a British National (Overseas) to register as a British Citizen if you meet any of the criteria mentioned below:

Registration - 5 Years Residence

To be able to register under the 5 year rule, the applicant would have to meet the following requirements:

  • You have not not exceeded the qualifying period for residency (5 years)
  • You have been a resident of the UK 5 years prior to the date of your application
  • You have not spent above four hundred and fifty days away from the UK during the 5-year period
  • You have resided for a period of more than ninety days outside the UK in the last twelve months in the 5-year period
  • You have not been in breach of any UK Immigration rules within the same period
  • You must not be found in violation of any time restrictions within the last twelve months of your qualifying period in the UK

Please note, that the 5-year period will be determined from the day your application was submitted. Time spent outside immigration control are not usually counted as part of the qualifying period. Such periods may include time in detention, time spent as a diplomat or time spent as an armed forces visitor.

Registration as a British Citizen Under the British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1997

To be registered as a British Citizen under the British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act of 1997, you must meet two requirements to ensure your eligibility. The requirements are the Ordinary Residence Requirement and the Nationality Requirement, both of which are explained below:

Ordinary Resident Requirement

To meet the ordinary residence requirement, you must:

  • be a resident in Hong Kong on the date of your application
  • have been normally resident in Hong Kong before 4 February 1997

In some cases, where a child is born on or after the 4th of February 1997, the decision will be determined by considering whether the parents of the child were residents in Hong Kong at the time of the child's birth.

A child born on or after 4 February 1997 must have been a resident in Hong Kong at the time of their birth. In such cases, it will be noted where the parent(s) were ordinarily residents at the time of birth.

For an individual to be adjudged as an ordinary resident in a country, they must:

  • be a regular resident in the country (excluding any temporary or occasional absences)
  • not violate any immigration rules
  • have entered the country on their own volition with the purpose of taking up residence

The UK court has put forth the following attributes associated with ordinary residence:

  • it is a consistent and continual manner of living in a particular place
  • its progress perseveres through periods of temporary absences
  • it may be of a long- or short-time span
  • it must be legitimate
  • it must have been taken up on one's own free will
  • it must be for an established motive

Nationality Requirement

To fulfil the nationality requirement, on the applicable date (immediately before 4 February 1997), you must have been:

  • a citizen of a British dependent territory by virtue only because of a connection with Hong Kong; or
  • a British national (overseas); or
  • a British overseas citizen; or
  • a British subject; or
  • a British protected person; and
  • you must not have held any other country's nationality

Only if you become a British National after the 3rd February, 1997 (by birth, registration or naturalisation) will the relevant date become the date at which you attained this status of naturalisation in your case.

You must make sure not to hold (or have held) any other citizenship or Non-British nationality on the relevant date.

It is important since:

  • There is a possibility you have held (hold) one or more of the above statuses.
  • You can be a British Dependent Citizen by connection with more than one British dependent territory. An individual born in Hong Kong to parent(s) born in another dependent territory could be a citizen of a British Dependent Territory, notwithstanding the fact that they were born in Hong Kong. In this case, only a former British Dependent Territories citizen is authorised to apply under the 1997 Act.
  • You can be a national or a citizen of a country even if you have not been issued a passport by the authorities of that country.
  • You are ethnically Chinese, and you may still be regarded as a Chinese citizen as implied under the Chinese nationality rules; in which case you will not be permitted to register under the 1997 Act. It is, therefore, important that you take particular care if you wish to become a British national through your Hong Kong connections. It is further advised that individuals who fall under this category contact the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Immigration Department for clarification before commencing with the application.
  • If you formally declare abandonment of citizenship for another country on or after "the relevant date", you will not be authorised to register as a British Citizen.

Should you need help, we have a team of experienced nationality lawyers who are more than happy to advise you on your best options.

BOTC British Citizenship Registration

You may be considered for registration as a Citizen of the country if you are a citizen of British Overseas Territories.

If you are registered as a citizen in this category, you will become eligible to pass British citizenship to your children born overseas. You may qualify for this registration based on:

  • Your residence in the country
  • The period of your crown service (or similar services)
  • Fulfilling the British Territories Citizens alternate provision

If you meet any of the following conditions your chances of success will increase.

5 Years Registration Grounds

To qualify, you must meet the following:

  • You must have passed the 5-years residency qualification period
  • You should have lived in the country for 5 years prior to making your application
  • At most, 450 days should be spent outside the country
  • No more that ninety days should be spent outside the country during the final year of your 5-year period
  • You must not have broken any immigration laws during this time
  • You must not have breached the UKBA's time restriction in the final year of your 5-year eligibility period. Your stay will, however, be checked upon submission of your application to see if you really are qualified

The time you spent incarcerated, on diplomatic duty, or military duty in the country, in which you were not monitored by the UKBA, would be counted as times of absence from the country.

British Nationality Registration in Accord of the Alternative Provisions for British Overseas Territories Nationals

If you were not granted citizenship in accordance with the British Overseas Territories Decree of 2002, you may be qualified for registration in this category, unless:

  • Your nationality of British Overseas Territories is through your link to Akrotiri and Dhekelia (Sovereign Base Areas)
  • You have, by Declaration of Renunciation, given up your British Nationality

Registration as a British Citizen by a BOTC with a Connection with Gibraltar

If an individual is a British Overseas Territories citizen, who is a British national for European Community motives because of a connection with Gibraltar, the individual can register as a British Citizen.

To prove the applicant has legitimate ties with Gibraltar, they must fulfil the following requirements:

  • their parents must have been born in Gibraltar;
  • their parents must have been naturalised in Gibraltar;
  • their parents must have been registered as British Overseas Territories citizens in Gibraltar;
  • their parents must have been registered as citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies in Gibraltar before 26 February 2002

If the individual's parents share no marital ties, the individual's connection to Gibraltar must be through the mother.

When You Have Given Up Your British Citizenship

You may be permitted to make a registration as a British national if you have previously relinquished your nationality as a British national, or as a national of a British Overseas Territory by making use of the RS category application form.

If you intend to reclaim British nationality which you previously relinquished, you may make a registration for nationality by making use of the RS1 application form.

To qualify for the British Nationality registration (using the RS1 application form), you must meet the following criteria:

  • The declaration to relinquish your British nationality should be done subsequent to the 1st of January 1983; or
  • In addition to the declaration made to relinquish British nationality subsequent to the 1st of January 1983

In addition, you must also meet the following:

  • You were given birth to, naturalised or registered in the UK; or
  • You are an independent commonwealth registered national of Britain and its colonies

You may be permitted to make a registration as a British national if you have previously relinquished your nationality and you intend to reclaim it. You can make your registration using the RS2 application form if you are:

  • Mentally sound
  • The declaration you made to relinquish British nationality was subsequent to the 26th of February 2002
  • The declaration to relinquish your British dependent territories nationality was done within the 1st of January 1983 and 25th February 2002
  • The declaration to relinquish nationality of Britain and the colonies was made by you
  • Your paternal grand-father (your spouse's/partner's paternal grand-father if you are married or in a civil partnership) was either given birth to, naturalised or registered in a UK Overseas Territory; or is a subject of the United Kingdom because the place they reside in is now part of the British Overseas Territory

Application by a Stateless Person for Registration as a British Citizen

Statelessness refers to a situation where an individual is not considered a national of any state. It is very common that most people who are stateless have never crossed a country border. Some of the common causes of statelessness include:

  1. Conflict of law
  2. Gender
  3. Discrimination
  4. State succession
  5. Non-state territories

Conflict of Law

There are two common ways of acquiring nationality.

  1. Jus Soli - right of the soil: Nationality based on birth
  2. Jus Sanguinis - right of blood: Nationality through descent

Let's imagine a scenario - an individual is born in a country that does not recognise nationality based on being born in that country. That child then grows up in another country that recognises nationality only by birth. Since the second country only recognises nationality by birth, both the parent and the child cannot be citizens of the third country - and since the first country does not accept nationality by birth, the child cannot lay claim to the first country either. The child in this situation may therefore be deemed stateless.

Gender

There are several countries in the world that do not allow female citizens to confer nationality to their children. Up to 27 countries in the world fall under this category. If the father in this situation is stateless, there is a strong likelihood that the child(ren) will also be stateless, since nationality cannot be conferred by the mother.

Discrimination

Statelessness as a result of discrimination may arise where the laws defining nationality are strict and regimented, such that it excludes certain parts of society or hinders the evolution of societal norms/culture.

State Succession

This may arise where a state ceases to exist; in most cases in control of another state.

Non-State Territories

This is where persons are citizens of non-state territories. By definition, a stateless person is someone who has no state. Examples of which include people born and living in places such as the Western Sahara or Northern Cyprus.

If you need assistance or have any questions regarding your citizenship, or anything else immigration-related, then do not hesitate to get in touch with our expert team of immigration lawyers. We also offer a free initial assessment over the phone - call us on 020 3744 2979.

Frequently asked enquiries on British Citizenship

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