Automatic Nationality by
Birth or Descent

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Qualifying Criteria

Becoming a British citizen by descent can apply to those who have been born outside of the United Kingdom but a parent who has British citizenship, allowing them to acquire citizenship.  

Acquiring British citizenship through birth, is for those who are born in the UK but likely moved abroad when they are young and now wish to return. 

Below we go through all of the different categories and the eligibility criteria for each. 

Born in the UK

A child born in the UK to a parent who is

  • a British citizen,
  • a person settled in the UK at the time the child is born
  • a member of the UK armed forces

is automatically a British citizen ‘otherwise than by descent’ and does not need to be registered.

Born outside the UK

A child born abroad to a parent who is British otherwise than by descent will automatically be ‘British by descent’.

The exceptions are:

  • a child born before 1 July 2006 to a British father and non-British mother who were not married
  • a child born on or after 1 July 2006 to a British father and non-British mother, but whose mother was married to someone else at the time of the birth

Children born to parents who are British by descent have no automatic claim to British citizenship. 

Applications may be made through registration or, at the Home Secretary’s discretion.

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Children of

EEA Nationals

A child born in the United Kingdom before 2 October 2000 to an EEA national parent will be a British citizen if the parent was exercising EC Treaty rights at the time of birth.

  • A child born in the United Kingdom between 2 October 2000 and 30 April 2006 to an EEA national parent will only be a British citizen if the parent had indefinite leave to remain in the UK at the time of the birth.
  • A child born in the United Kingdom to an EEA national between 30 April 2006 and 30 June 2021 will be a British citizen if their parent had been in the United Kingdom exercising EC Treaty rights for more than 5 years or had indefinite leave to remain.
  • A child born in the United Kingdom to an EEA national on or after 1 July 2021 will be a British citizen if their parent had indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

Other Categories

A child born in a British Overseas Territory (other than the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia) after 21 May 2002 will also be a British citizen if, at the time of the birth, either parent is a British citizen, or settled in the United Kingdom, or settled in that particular territory, or is a member of the UK armed forces.

A child who is adopted in the UK and one or both adoptive parents are British citizens will also automatically be a British citizen otherwise than by descent on adoption and does not need to be registered.

For further advice or to discuss your visa application with one of our UK Visa specialists, contact our team on 0161 843 9000 or complete our enquiry form below.