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Is Your Child Eligible for British Citizenship?

We frequently receive enquiries asking, ‘My child was born in the UK, can they become a British citizen?’ In this post we will explore whether a child born in the UK can qualify as a British citizen and the routes available to register a child as a British citizen.

If a child was born in the UK and at the time of their birth, and if either of their parents were British citizens themselves or settled in the UK, the child is  automatically born a British citizen. This means that an application can be made for a British passport for the child.

If a child was born in the UK but at the time neither of their parents was a British citizen or settled, then the child was not automatically born a British citizen. It may be possible to register a child for British citizenship depending on their circumstances.

There are a number of provisions in the British Nationality Act 1981 under which a child has the entitlement to register as a British citizen. This means that if the child meets the relevant criteria and is of good character, they are entitled to be registered. These routes have been set out below:

Registration as a British Citizen Option 1 – Section 1(3) of the British Nationality Act 1981:

 Children are entitled to registration under section 1(3) of the British Nationality Act 1981 if:

  • they were born in the UK
  • they were not British citizens at birth because at the time neither parent was a British citizen or settled
  • while they are minors either of the parents has since become a British citizen or settled in the UK
  • they are under the age of 18 on the date the application is received
  • they are of good character if over the age of 10

Registration as a British Citizen Option 2 – Section 1(3A) of the British Nationality Act 1981:

Children are entitled to registration under section 1(3A) of the British Nationality Act 1981 if: 

  • they were born in the UK on or after 13 January 2010 
  •  they were not a British citizen at birth, as at the time neither parent was: 
    • a British citizen or settled in the UK 
    • serving in the UK armed forces 
  • while they are under the age of 18 either parent becomes a member of the UK armed forces
  • they are under the age of 18 on the date of application 
  • they are of good character if over the age of 10

Registration as a British Citizen Option 3 – Section 1(4) of the British Nationality Act 1981:

Children and adults are entitled to registration under section 1(4) of the British Nationality Act 1981 if:

  • they were born in the UK
  • they were not a British citizen at birth as at the time of birth neither parent was a British citizen or settled in the UK
  • they are aged 10 years or over on the date of the application
  • they have lived in the UK for the first 10 years of their life
  • they have not been outside of the UK for more than 90 days in each of the first 10 years of their life
  • the Secretary of State is satisfied they are of good character

What if your child does not meet the registration requirements?

The Home Secretary has the power to exercise discretion to register people as British citizens under section 3(1) of the British Nationality Act 1981. Discretion may be exercised if:

  • the applicant is under 18 at the date of the application
  • if aged 10 years or over on the date of application the applicant is of good character
  • they think fit to register them

You may wish to speak to our barristers for expert legal advice if your child does not fall fit the requirements set out above under section 1(3), section 1(3A) or section (1(4) of the British Nationality Act 1981; we can provide advice as to whether they may be able to obtain British citizenship by discretion.

Registering a Child as a British Citizen

An application to register a child as a British citizen can be made online. This application will be completed through the UKVCAS system, meaning you will need to provide biometrics.

Registration applications cost £1012 with an additional £19.20 biometrics fee. Please note that your child may also be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony which costs £80. Applications can take up to 6 months to be determined. In our experience, applications typically take approximately 2-4 months to be decided.

In the next post, we will explore situations in which children born outside the UK may become British citizens.

Contact Our Immigration Barristers

For expert advice and assistance with an application to register a child as a British citizen, contact our Nationality Barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.

SEE HOW OUR IMMIGRATION BARRISTERS CAN HELP YOU

To arrange an initial consultation meeting, call our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or fill out the form below.

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