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Can You Become a British Citizen?

There are several different ways that you can apply for British citizenship. This section explains how to check your eligibility to become a British citizen.
It is not uncommon for British citizens to hold dual nationality. Information in this guide also explains UK laws on dual citizenship (e.g. through marriage) and when travelling overseas.

BRITISH CITIZENSHIP: Your circumstances will determine the best way to apply (e.g. born in the UK or moved to the UK).

In fact, you may be eligible to become a British citizen in more than one way. If so, you can choose which way to make the application.

If You Moved to the United Kingdom
  • You can apply if you moved to the UK on a visa.
  • You can apply if you are coming to the UK from a European Economic Area (EEA) country.

In most cases, you would be able to apply providing you lived in the United Kingdom for the last five (5) years and:

  • You had ‘indefinite leave to remain’ for the last 12 months.
  • You are from an EEA country and you had ‘permanent residence status’ for the last 12 months.
Spouse or Civil Partner is a British Citizen

As a rule, you can apply as the spouse or civil partner of a British citizen. But, you must have lived in the United Kingdom for the last three (3) years and have (any):

Other Ways of Checking Eligibility for British Citizen

You may also be eligible to apply for British citizenship if:

If You were Born in the United Kingdom

Were you born in the United Kingdom and was it after the 1st of January 1983? If so, you may be eligible to apply to ‘register’ as a British citizen. Qualification would depend on what year you were born and the circumstances of your parents.

Commonwealth Citizens

The government has guidance on the Windrush scheme and information to check if you are eligible to apply for citizenship. Under the Windrush Scheme, both of these must apply to your situation:

  • You (or one of your parents) arrived in the United Kingdom before 1973.
  • You have lived in the United Kingdom and have not been away from the UK for more than two (2) years.
  • Further rules apply if your parent arrived in the UK before 1973. In this case, you must have either:

  • Been born in the United Kingdom.
  • Arrived in the United Kingdom before you turned 18 years old.

Note: Some Commonwealth citizens may have the ‘right of abode’ for the UK. It would mean you can live or work in the UK without immigration restrictions. You may need to prove you have right of abode in the UK to meet the requirements.

Dual Nationality in United Kingdom

The United Kingdom allows its citizens to have dual citizenship (also called dual nationality). In simple terms, it means you can be a British citizen as well as a citizen of at least one other country.

There is no need to apply for dual citizenship status. Thus, you can hold British citizenship and apply for foreign citizenship at the same time. Despite this, there are many countries that will not accept dual citizenship.

Note: The London Diplomatic List contains all the addresses and contact details of all foreign embassies and High Commissions in the United Kingdom.

How to Check if You are a British Citizen

Even though you may have automatic qualification, you can check if you are a British citizen online. As a rule it would depend on:

  • Where and when you were born.
  • Your parents’ circumstances.

Note: There will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens living in the UK until 2021. You and your family can apply for ‘settled status’ to continue living in the UK after June 2021. The scheme will open fully by March 2019.

Diplomatic Help when Travelling Abroad

A dual national would not be able to get diplomatic help from the British government in the other country where they hold citizenship.

An Example:

Holding dual citizenship of both British and Chinese means you would not get diplomatic help from the United Kingdom during your stay in China.

Dual Citizenship Laws on Marriage and Children

Marrying someone from the United Kingdom would not grant you an automatic right to British citizenship. Even so, there is a specific process to apply for citizenship if your spouse is a British citizen.

A married person can take on the nationality of their partner – in some countries. Children born abroad may also get automatic right to their parent’s nationality.

You can check with the consulate or high commission located in the UK for each country. They will provide extra information about their particular laws on dual nationality.

Checking If You Can Become a British Citizen in United Kingdom