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British citizenship is one of the six different forms of British nationality. The forms of nationality are:

  • British citizenship;
  • British overseas citizenship;
  • British overseas territories citizenship;
  • British national (overseas);
  • British protected person; and
  • British subject.

Once you have settled in the UK and have lived here legally for five years, or three years if you are married to a British citizen, you may be eligible to naturalise as a British Citizen. The knowledge of language and life requirement for naturalisation as a British Citizen is the same as that for settlement, and the same English language qualifications will be accepted. British nationality law is complicated, and you are advised obtain professional advice on your claim before applying for naturalization. 

If you were born outside the United Kingdom

Whether or not you are a British citizen depends on the type of citizenship your parents had. This may be British citizenship by descent or otherwise than by descent.

British citizenship may descend to one generation born abroad. So if you were born outside the United Kingdom or qualifying territory and one of your parents was a British citizen otherwise than by descent, you are a British citizen by descent. If you were born before 1 July 2006 you may not qualify if your parents were not married at the time of your birth.

However, you are a British citizen otherwise than by descent if at the time of your birth one of your parents was a British citizen in Crown service, designated service, or service of a European Community institution and he/she was recruited to that service:

  • In the United Kingdom;
  • In the United Kingdom or a qualifying territory (if you were born on or after 21 May 2002); or
  • In the European Community (for service with a European Community institution).

There are different ways of becoming a British citizen. Some people can ‘register’ as one.

Registering as a British citizen is usually simpler than becoming naturalised, but you must be eligible.

You may be eligible if:

  • you have another form of British nationality
  • you were born before 1 January 1983 to a British mother
  • you were born to a British father, even if he was not married to your mother
  • you were born in the UK on or after 1 January 1983
  • you’re under 18 and don’t fit into the other categories
  • you have a connection with Gibraltar or Hong Kong
  • you’re stateless

As well as belonging to one of these groups there are other eligibility rules for each category.

    If you were born outside the United Kingdom or qualifying territory and your parents were British citizens by descent, you are not a British citizen. However, you may be able to apply to register as a British citizen (see registration of a child).

    Has your naturalisation application been refused based on good character ? We can help you with a reconsideration request. Form NR - Reconsideration of decision to refuse British citizenship - Nationality.

    To speak to an experienced nationality & Citizenship solicitor, telephone our offices on 01204 565234.

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