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Home / British Citizenship

Registration As 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, the must meet two requirements in order to ensure your eligibility. The requirements are the ordinary Residence Requirement and the Nationality Requirement.

Ordinary Residence Requirement

To meet the ordinary residence requirement you must:

    • be normally resident in Hong Kong on the date of your application; and
    • 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; consideration of this circumstance will be determined by taking into account if the parents of the child were normally resident in Hong Kong as at the time of the child’s birth.

A child born on or after 4 February 1997 must have been ordinarily resident in Hong Kong at the time of his birth. In such cases account will be taken of where the parent/s were ordinarily resident at the time of the birth.

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

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

The United Kingdom court has pronounced that the following attributes are 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

In order to fulfil this necessity, on the applicable date (immediately before 4 February 1997), you must have been:

Only if you become a British National after the relevant date of 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 that you are not already a citizen before you make an application for naturalisation because it is a possibility for individuals to be citizens or nationals of a country without ever holding a passport or having been issued one by the authorities of that country.

You must therefore not hold (held) any other, citizenship or Non-British nationality on the relevant date.

It is important to that:

    • There is a possibility that you have held (hold) one or more of the above statuses. You may 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. In illustration to that effect, 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 he was born in Hong Kong. In this case, only a former British Dependent Territories citizen is authorized 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 individual 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 advice you on your best options.
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Kind regards
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