INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

CHILDREN AND THEIR RIGHTS TO BRITISH CITIZENSHIP 

 

British Nationality law can be extremely complex. Advice and assistance from a competent qualified person is therefore strongly recommended.

 

IS A CHILD BORN IN THE UK A BRITISH CITIZEN?  

A child born in the UK and at the time of the birth either of her/his parents were:

  • British citizens themselves or
  • Settled in the UK (that means had indefinite leave to enter or remain or, if they were EEA citizens, had permanent residence)

then the child was automatically born a British citizen, and s/he can apply to the British Passport Office for a British passport for him or her. The passport application will need to be submitted with the child’s full birth certificate, proof of the parent(s)’ British citizenship or settled status at the time of the birth and a passport application fee of £46.

 

WHEN MAY A YOUNG PERSON BE ABLE TO REGISTER AS A BRITISH CITIZEN?

There are several circumstances in which a young person in the UK, who is not already a British citizen, can apply to be registered as British. Three of the most common circumstances are briefly described below.

 

Scenario One (registration by entitlement under section 1(4) of the British Nationality Act 1981)

Someone will qualify to be registered as a British citizen if he or she applies to be registered and he or she:

  • was born in the UK; and
  • lived continuously in the UK from the time of his or her birth until his or her tenth birthday; and
  • is of good character.

An application can be made at any time after the person’s tenth birthday, including after the person has become an adult.

Scenario Two (registration by entitlement under section 1(3) of the British Nationality Act 1981)

A child (i.e. someone under 18 years of age) will qualify to be registered as a British citizen if he or she applies to be registered and:

  • he or she was born in the UK; and
  • since his or her birth, at least one of his or her parents has been granted settlement in the UK (indefinite leave to remain) or has become a British citizen; and
  • if he or she is aged 10 years or over, he or she is of good character.

If the child’s parents are not married, certain types of documentary evidence will be required to prove the father is the child’s father. This will be necessary where the application relies on the father’s settlement or citizenship status, but not where it relies on the mother’s.

Scenario Three (registration by entitlement under paragraph 3, Schedule 2 of the British Nationality Act 1981) 

Someone will qualify to be registered as a British citizen if he or she applies to be registered and he or she:

  • was born in the UK; and
  • has always been stateless; and
  • has lived in the UK for more than five years; and
  • not been out of the country for more than 90 days (three months) in any year (If there are longer gaps, there may still be a right to become British depending on the circumstances); and
  • is under 22 years old.

 ‘Statelessness’ does not mean not having a passport. It means that no country accepts the child as a citizen. Parents or carers would need proof from the country/countries of their own citizenships that their child did not have that citizenship.

Scenario Four (registration at the discretion of the Secretary of State under section 3(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981)

A child (i.e. someone under 18 years of age) may qualify to be registered as a British citizen if he or she applies to be registered and:

  • he or she is living in the UK; and
  • if he or she is aged 10 years or over, he or she is of good character; and
  • the child’s future clearly lies in the UK.

Unlike in the previous two, in this scenario the decision on whether to register the child is at the discretion of the Home Office. Generally, the Home Office will exercise its discretion in favour of registering the child as British if:

  • the child has been granted settlement (indefinite leave to remain); and
  • one of child’s parents is a British citizen; and
  • the other parent has been granted settlement (indefinite leave to remain) or is unlikely to return or be required to return to his or her country of origin.

However, if the child has lived in the UK from a very young age and has lived here for many years, it may be argued that the child’s future clearly lies in the UK and that it would be in the child’s best interests to be registered as British.

 

In all four of these scenarios, there is a fee to register as a British citizen. Application fees are from time to time increased, and this may happen at very short notice. Currently, if the registration request is made by a child, the fee is £973 . If it is made by an adult, it is £1,163. Whether or not the application is successful, the fee is not reimbursed – i.e. the fee is lost either way.

Various information and documentary evidence is required to make an application. Applications can be made on an application form issued by the Home Office, but there is no requirement to use the form. However, it is advisable to use the form. From time to time the Home Office updates the form, often at short notice.

Please note: The information set out here does not cover all the circumstances in which someone – including a child – may become a British citizen.

 

September 2015 (amended on 6 April 2017, September 2017)

 

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