Immigration. Travel. Living.

British citizenship acquisition

British passport handed over.

First, you have to get a nationality to get a passport. There are several types of British nationality:

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

Although British Nationality has many forms, citizenship is the only form that allows you to work and live in the UK without a visa.

There are two main ways of acquiring British citizenship. First is through naturalization. This applies to those who have lived in the UK for a certain period of time.

The other way of acquiring citizenship is through registration. This way is suitable for those who don’t fall under the criteria for naturalization. Mostly, these are people who aren’t yet 18 years old.

If you are eligible to apply in more than one way, you can choose the most suitable process.

Applying for citizenship for those who moved to the UK

You can apply through naturalization if you have moved to the UK. To do this you must comply with at least one of the following set of requirements.

Those who are married or are in a civil partnership with a British citizen must meet the main criteria: applicant has resided in the UK for the last 3 years.

Additionally, you must have one of the following:

  • Indefinite leave to remain;
  • Status of a settled person;
  • Permanent residence status.

If you are a national of European Economic Area or Switzerland, you will automatically receive resident status. This will happen after 5 years of living in the UK. After this period you will receive a leave to remain. This is when you can apply for citizenship.

Those who have acquired indefinite leave to remain/enter the UK or settled status:

  • Must be over 18;
  • Have this status for at least 12 months;
  • Prove that you have stayed in the UK for 5 years;
  • Prove your English meets the requirements;
  • Present good character (no criminal records, fraud, etc.);
  • Live in the UK and intend on continuing this;
  • Have a good understanding of British life (test).

If you are married to a Brit, you won’t need to wait 12 months to apply for citizenship. After you are accepted, you can apply for a passport.

Applying for citizenship for those who were born in the UK

Being born in the UK doesn’t mean that you will automatically get UK citizenship. If this is the case, you might be able to apply for British citizenship through registration. This means that you will have to check if you meet the requirements for applying.

If you were born after 1 January 1983:

  • You are younger than 18, and at least one of your parents has acquired citizenship after your birth;
  • You lived in the UK until 10 years old.

If you were born before 1 January 1983, then you automatically became a UK citizen. You might not be a UK citizen if your father was a diplomat. Or if your father was an enemy alien in occupation and your birthplace was the Channel Islands during World War 2. After you have acquired this type of nationality, you are eligible for a passport.

British overseas territories citizen

If you were born before 1 January 1983, then you have this type of nationality if:

  • On 31 December 1982, you were a citizen of UK and Colonies;
  • If your parents or grandparents were born, registered or naturalized in a colony.

If you were born after 1 January 1983, then you have this nationality if:

  • You were born in a British colony;
  • When you were born, one of your parents was a citizen or legally settled in a colony.


British overseas citizen

You have this type of nationality if both of these requirements apply:

  • You were a UK citizen and colonies on 31 December 1982;
  • You didn’t become a UK citizen of overseas territories citizen on 1 January 1983.


British subject

To have the nationality of a British subject you must:

  • Have been a citizen of Ireland on 31 December 1948 and made a claim to remain a British subject;
  • A British subject without citizenship on 1 January 1983, who didn’t become a UK or Colonies citizen as well as the citizen of Commonwealth country, Pakistan or Ireland.

British naturalisation certificate.

British national (overseas)

You can only be a British national overseas if you were able to register as a national with a connection to Hong Kong before 1 July 1997. If you didn’t register at that time and had no other nationality or citizenship on 30 June 1997, you became a British overseas citizen.

British protected person

Another type of nationality you can have to acquire a British passport is as a protected person. You might have this nationality, if on 1 January 1983 you:

  • You were a citizen of Brunei;
  • Were born stateless in the UK or overseas territory. This can happen only if one of your parents was a British protected person;
  • Were already a British protected person.


Applying for a British passport

If you already have another citizenship, it won’t get in your way when applying for passport in the UK. The UK does recognize dual citizenship.

Right now the passport acquiring process for EU and EFTA country citizens is easier. However, this might change after 2019, when the UK leaves the EU.

You must evaluate under which criteria you could apply for a passport in the UK. You can apply for a passport if you are over 16, have British nationality and you haven’t had a British passport before.

If you are located in the UK, you can apply for a passport either online or with a paper form.

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