The key considerations of being a British citizen are when you were born and where your birth took place.
In fact, the circumstances of your parents can also be a determining factor. There are ways to check if you are a British citizen if you are uncertain.
In some cases, you may also apply to:
- Become a British citizen by ‘naturalisation’. This could apply to someone who settles in the United Kingdom.
- Register as a British citizen. This could apply to someone who has another type of British nationality.
Born in the UK before January 1st 1983
Were you were born in the United Kingdom or a British colony before the 1st of January 1983? If so, you would have become a British citizen on the 1st of January 1983 if both of these apply:
- You were a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies (CUKC) on the 31st of December 1982.
- You had the ‘citizen right of abode‘ in the United Kingdom.
It would also apply to people who:
- Were born in the United Kingdom.
- Have since been ‘naturalised’ in the United Kingdom.
- Had registered as a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies (CUKC).
- Were able to prove legitimate descent from a father to whom one of these applies.
Born in the UK since January 1st 1983
Note: The rules that determine United Kingdom nationality changed in 1983. Being born in the United Kingdom on or after the 1st of January 1983 does not ‘automatically’ grant British citizenship.
Note: Foreign nationals who have lived in the UK can use Form NQ to apply for confirmation that they have not gained British citizenship.
Were you were born in the United Kingdom on or after the 1st of January 1983? If so, you will be a British citizen if, when you were born, your mother or your father was (either):
- A British citizen.
- Had already ‘settled’ in the United Kingdom.
Being ‘settled’ refers to someone who can stay in the UK without any time restrictions. Thus, it would also apply to people who have any of the following:
- Citizen ‘right of abode’.
- ‘Indefinite leave to remain’.
- Permanent residence as a national of the European Economic Area (EEA).
In short, it is most likely that you are a British citizen if your mother or father was born or naturalised in the UK at the time of your birth.
Note: Were you born before July 2006? If so, in most cases the British nationality of your father will only pass to you if your mother and father were married at the time of your birth. You can read through further rules of British citizenship for other cases with complex circumstances.
Born Outside of the United Kingdom
You might still have British citizenship even if you were born outside the UK. As a rule, it depends on where and when you were born, or the circumstances of your parents. There are ways to check if you are a British citizen if you remain uncertain.
As a foreign national, or a Commonwealth citizen, you do not get automatic citizenship by living in the United Kingdom. But, you can check if you can apply to become a British citizen by other means (e.g. by naturalisation or registering).
What Happens if You are Stateless
It can happen that you are not recognised as a citizen of any country. In this case, you would be a British citizen if both of these apply to your situation:
- One of your parents is already a British citizen.
- You were born in the United Kingdom (or one of the qualifying British overseas territories) since the 1st of January 1983.
It may be possible for you to register as a British citizen even if these do not apply to your situation. Check to see if you can apply for citizenship if you are stateless (not recognised as a citizen of any country).
Note: You can use Form NR to ask UK Visas and Immigration to review its decision to refuse your application for British citizenship.