Born in the UK
Under the British Nationality Act 1981, a person born in the UK between 1 January 1983 and 30 June 2006 will automatically be a British citizen if, at the time of their birth, at least one of the following applies:
- Their parents are married and either parent is a British citizen
- Their parents are married and either parent is settled in the UK
- Their mother is a British citizen
- Their mother is settled in the UK
Those born in the UK on or after 1 July 2006 will automatically be a British citizen if at the time of their birth either parent is a British citizen or either parent is settled in the UK. The parents do not need to be married if the child is born on or after this date.
Where an individual held permanent residence under the EEA Regulations at the time of their child’s birth and have applied for EU Settled Status prior to 30 June 2021, their child will also automatically be British.
The children of those who were resident in the UK by 31 December 2020 and have Settled Status will also automatically be British if born in the UK.
Born outside of the UK
Under section 2(1)(a) of the British Nationality Act 1981, a person born outside of the UK on or after 1 January 1983 will automatically be a British citizen if at the time of their birth, either parent was a British citizen ‘otherwise than by descent’.
An individual will be British ‘otherwise than by descent’ if they naturalised or registered as British or if they were born in the UK to British parents.
Individuals who acquire British citizenship under Section 2(1)(a) of the British Nationality Act will be considered to be ‘British by descent’ and would only be able to pass on their British citizenship to any children born in the UK.
Alternative methods of automatically acquiring British citizenship
The above covers the most common ways in which an individual will automatically acquire British citizenship. There are alternative methods of automatically acquiring British citizenship which cover individuals whose parents were serving in the armed forces or who were adopted. Individuals born prior to 1 January 1983 may also have automatically acquired British citizenship in certain circumstances.
Obtaining a British passport
Individuals who automatically acquire British citizenship are not required to register or naturalise as British and can instead apply directly for a British passport. Such applications can be made from in the UK or overseas.
How our immigration solicitors can help
British nationality law can be extremely complex. We are experienced in advising individuals on this area and also assisting with naturalisation or registration applications. Should you require assistance with an application for British citizenship or if you would like to speak with one of our team on this area of law, please contact us, or complete the enquiry form below.