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British Citizenship by Birth

British Citizenship by Birth

If you wish to find out more about registering for British citizenship by birth, our Manchester immigration lawyers are here to help you.

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What is British citizenship by birth?

British nationality is not automatically acquired by all children who are born on UK soil. Instead, it is linked to both place of birth and the immigration status of one’s parents.

A person will automatically acquire nationality if they are born in the UK to at least one parent who was a British citizen, person with Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or member of the UK armed forces at the time of birth.

There are however circumstances in which children who do not match this criteria can become citizens- this is through the process of registration. For example, children born in the UK to parents who are not British citizens will have an ‘entitlement to register’ for British nationality as soon as one parent gains Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)/EU Settled Status/EEA Permanent Residence. However, this can only be done if this status is acquired before the child turns 18.

Similarly, a child can become registered as a citizen if they have lived in the UK for the first 10 years of their life. The status of the parents is irrelevant when applying via this route, however it can only be pursued by those who were born after the 1st of January 1983.

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Who automatically acquires British citizenship?

Whether or not a person is automatically a British citizen by birth depends on both place of birth and the immigration status of their parents at the time of birth. In addition, the rules differ in relation to the year of birth.

Children born before 1 January 1983 

You automatically become a British citizen by birth if you were born in the UK before 1 January 1983, unless your father was a diplomat working for a non-UK country or if you were born in the Channel Islands during World War 2.

Children born on or after 1 January 1983 

You automatically become a British citizen by birth if you were born in the UK after 1 January 1983, providing that at least one of your parents was a national, person with settled status or member of the UK armed forces at the time of your birth.

British nationality is also automatically acquired by persons adopted by a British national in a UK court.

Can I register my child for British citizenship by birth?

If you were born in the UK but did not automatically acquire British citizenship at birth, you may be eligible to apply to ‘register’ as a British citizen. This depends on when you were born and your parents’ circumstances.

If you were born in the UK on or after 1 January 1983, you may be eligible for registration if either:

  • You’re under 18 and since you were born, one of your parents has naturalised as a British citizen/acquired settled status;
  • You lived in the UK until you were 10 or over.

If you were born in the UK before 1 January 1983, you will have acquired citizenship automatically and therefore will not need to register as a British citizen.

As touched upon, persons born in the UK to parents who are not British citizens but who do hold settled status will not need to register, as they will acquire British nationality by birth automatically as a result of their parents’ immigration status.

What is the application form for British citizenship by birth?

The application form for British citizenship by birth is Form MN1. This form is specifically used for the process of registering a child as a British citizen in accordance with the eligibility criteria.

It should be noted that this differs from the process by which a person naturalises as a British citizen. For Naturalisation, the correct form in Form AN.

Form MN1 can be submitted by all persons who are living in the UK; in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or a British Overseas Territory.

The form requires either the applicants themselves or their parents to provide information pertaining to birth, nationality, parentage and criminal/immigration history. Section Five requires the applicant to provide the details of two referees.

Both referees must be of a professional standing and in no way related to the applicant. The referees must confirm that they know the applicant personally and state why they should be granted citizenship of the UK.

Persons born before 1983 who wish to register as British citizens will need to use a different form- Form UKM.

What are the British nationality rules for a child born abroad?

The rules for children born outside the UK and children born in the UK are notably different.

A child born outside the UK to at least one parent who is British otherwise than by descent will acquire British nationality automatically.

The form of nationality acquired will be ‘British citizenship by descent’. Although this provides the holder with largely the same set of rights as those born on British soil to British parents, they will not be able to pass their citizenship onto their children.

With this in mind, a child born abroad to parents who are British citizens by descent will not automatically acquire nationality. However, it is possible for a child in this situation to become a British citizen via the process of registration.

Registration can be applied for providing that:

  • The child and both parents have lived in the UK for three years on the date that the application is submitted;
  • Both parents consent to the application;
  • Children aged 10 or over on the date of application are of good character;
  • The child and both of their parents have not been absent from the UK for more than 270 days in that 3 year period.

How do I apply for a British passport for my child?

If you wish to apply for a British passport for your child, there are a number of documents that must be provided. It is important to note that the UKVI will only accept original documents or official copies of certificates. Photocopies will not be accepted and could make your entire application invalid.

In addition to the British passport application form, you must provide:

  • Your child’s full birth or adoption certificate: if the name on the birth certificate does not match the name on your passport, you will need to provide a signed letter from any person with parental responsibility confirming the name change and an official document on which the new name is used.
  • Evidence of your child’s British nationality.
  • Any previous valid passports from a different country that belong to your child.

If your documents are in neither English or Welsh, you will need to provide official translations.

What documents will I need to apply for a British passport for my child?

If you wish to apply for a British passport for your child, there are a number of documents that must be provided.

It is important to note that the UKVI will only accept original documents or official copies of certificates. Photocopies will not be accepted and could make your entire application invalid.

In addition to the British passport application form, you must provide:

  • Your child’s full birth or adoption certificate: if the name on the birth certificate does not match the name on your passport, you will need to provide a signed letter from any person with parental responsibility confirming the name change and an official document on which the new name is used.
  • Evidence of your child’s British nationality.
  • Any previous valid passports from a different country that belong to your child.

If your documents are in neither English or Welsh, you will need to provide official translations.

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What is the law regarding surrogacy and British nationality?

The rules surrounding surrogacy and British nationality are notably complex. There is no single process pertaining to how a surrogate child acquires British nationality- as a result, the best route to take depends entirely on your personal circumstances.

As with all other children, whether or not children born through surrogacy are classed as a British citizens depends on the nationality of their legal parents. For nationality purposes:

  • The surrogate mother is always the mother;
  • In situations where the surrogate mother is married, the child’s father is always the mother’s husband;
  • In situations where the surrogate mother is not married, proof of paternity regulations may apply, for example the man named on the child’s birth certificate.

Taking this into account, a child born in the UK to a British surrogate mother will automatically acquire British citizenship.

If a child is born in the UK to a surrogate mother who is not a British citizen but is married to a British citizen, the surrogate mother’s husband will be the child’s legal father. As a result, the child will automatically acquire British nationality.

Does my child need to pass the ‘Good Character’ requirement?

To be accepted as a British citizen, it is essential that you satisfy the ‘Good Character’ requirement. When used in this context, ‘Good Character’ refers to whether or not a prospective British citizen will be a positive and upstanding member of society, and will respect and honour the rights and laws of the UK.

According to British nationality law, all British citizen applicants over the age of 10 need to satisfy the requirement. Therefore, if you are registering a child over the age of 10 for British nationality, they will need to demostrate that they are of ‘good character’ in order for the application to be a success.

To do this, the child in question must:

  • Have always honoured and followed the law and therefore not been involved in or convicted of any crimes. This includes terrorism, war crimes, and actions viewed as not conducive to the public good.
  • Not have contravened any immigration laws either in the UK or overseas, such as overstaying any previous visa or status.

When the Home Office is assessing whether or not a child is of good character, they will take into account offences committed in the UK and overseas. This is so that an accurate decision can be made. Having said this, it is important to note that the child’s age and personal circumstances will also be considered.

Can you acquire British citizenship by adoption?

According to the Adoption and Children Act 2002, any child that is adopted by order of a court in the UK (or any British overseas territory) will automatically become a British citizen, providing that at least one of the adoptive parents was a British national at the time the adoption order was made.

An adopted child will be eligible for a British passport if at least one adopted parent was both a British citizen and habitually resident in the UK at the time the adoption order was made.

Under all other circumstances your child will not gain citizenship automatically. However, your child may be able to register for citizenship if they were adopted:

  • before 3 January 2014 in a ‘designated country’;
  • after 3 January 2014 in a country that is listed in the Adoption Order 2013;
  • through a Hague Convention adoption.

Will my child be eligible for dual or multiple citizenship?

Certain countries perceive applying for British nationality as equivalent to renouncing the citizenship of that country.

Prior to registering your child for British nationality, it is important that you check whether this will cause the loss of their current citizenship.

On the other hand, your child will not need to renounce his or her current citizenship in order to become registered as a British citizen. UK law recognises the right to hold dual or multiple nationalities.

Further to this, once your child has become a British citizen, they will be able apply for the citizenship of other countries without being at risk of compromising their status as a British citizen.

It is important to note that, if the country that your child is currently a citizen of does accept dual nationalities, they may continue to honour their duties as citizens of that country (such as undergoing military service) when they are not in the UK.

Will my child be invited to attend a British citizenship ceremony?

Only persons over the age of 18 are required to swear an Oath of Allegiance in order to receive their British citizenship certificate. As a result, it is not essential that your child attends a British citizenship ceremony as part of the registration process.

However, if your child wishes to attend a citizenship ceremony, they will be required to swear the Oath and pledge their loyalty to the UK. Once the ceremony concludes, your child will receive their certificate and as a result will be able to apply for a British passport.

If your child does not speak English or has special needs, you can request the help of a certified interpreter.

Can adults apply for British citizenship by birth?

Yes, provided they are eligible, persons over the age of 18 are able to register as citizens. For persons born after the 1st of January 1983, eligibility stems from having lived in the UK until the age of 10 and not having spent more than 90 days outside of the UK in any of these 10 years.

For adults who want to become British citizens but were neither born in the UK or born to a British citizen, Naturalisation is an option.

Naturalisation requires applicants to have lived in the UK on a valid visa for between three and five years (depending on the visa) before applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). Before a Naturalisation application can be commenced, ILR must be held for 12 months. Naturalisation is applied for using Form AN.

How much will it cost to register my child for British citizenship by birth?

It currently costs £1,012 to register your child as a British citizen by birth.

This fee does not include the additional £80 it will cost to book your child’s British citizenship ceremony. As mentioned however, this is only mandatory for applicants who are over the age of 18.

You may also be required to pay £19.20 to have your child’s biometric details (digital photograph and fingerprint scans) recorded.

This fee may vary depending on whether you are applying from the Channel Islands, Isle of Man, or any other British overseas territory.

What is a status letter?

Under normal circumstances, the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) can only issue a passport where a person can establish their claim to British nationality by producing official documents.

However, in circumstances where official documents cannot be produced, a person can apply for a Home Office Status Letter.

The Home Office will examine other forms of evidence in order to ascertain whether a person is a British citizen. If these other forms of evidence are deemed satisfactory, a status letter will be issued which can then take the place of official documentation in a passport application.

A status letter can be applied for using Home Office Form NS.

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Frequently Asked Questions

At Manchester Immigration, we understand the immense importance of being able to register your child as a British citizen by birth. If you opt for our help, you can rest assured that the application for registration will be conducted with the utmost care and professionalism.

Your assigned lawyer will:

  • Conduct a thorough documentation check to euchre you have all of the necessary paperwork in place;
  • Confirm that your child is eligible and complete the application form the highest possible standard;
  • Prepare a Letter of Representation that emphasises the strengths of your application to the Home Office, drawing attention to relevant immigration laws in support of your case;
  • Liaise with the Home Office until a decision is reached.

As it stands, it costs £1,012 to register your child as a British citizen.

In addition, the British citizenship ceremony costs £80 to book, should you wish for your child to attend.

To register your child for citizenship, you will need to complete and submit Form MN1 to the Home Office.

You will need to include two referees, both of whom must be of professional standing and in no way related to the applicant.