British Citizenship

Can you claim British Nationality?

Standard Claims
You are normally eligible for British citizenship (and what we would term a STANDARD route to British Nationality) if you were:

  • Born in the UK before 01.01.1983;
  • Naturalised as a UK resident in the UK (having spent a qualifying period of time in the UK);
  • Born to a parent* (a father or mother) who was born in the UK before 01.01.1983; OR
  • Born to a parent* (a father or mother) who was British Other Than by Descent when you were born.

* It gets more complicated if:

  • your parents weren't married at the time of your birth; OR
  • you were adopted.

The most common situations that lead to being British Other Than by Descent is where that parent:

a) was born in the UK; OR
b) Naturalised in the UK.

Non-Standard Claims

All other claims to British nationality that do not fall within the criteria of a Standard claim are known as Non-Standard claims.

The most common scenario is where the applicant has a grandparent born in the UK or India. Key to qualifying is if:

  • the relevant parent can be defined as British Other Than by Descent; OR
  • the Independence Day arrangements allowed for British nationality to pass from one generation to the next.

These cases need to be determined on a case-by-case basis. Such situations would lead to a NON-STANDARD route to British Nationality, and would rely on the exceptions allowed through nationality law or the anomalies created by the drafting of old colonial nationality law.

Children under the age of 18

Other than the Standard routes to British Nationality set out above, there are other provisions allowing a child under the age of 18 of a British parent to claim British Nationality. These are generally covered by the following situations:

Born in the UK

  • A parent held British Nationality at the time of birth;
  • A parent was "settled" in the UK at the time of birth;
  • A parent later became "settled" in the UK before the child turns 18;
  • The child is born without nationality (stateless); OR
  • The child is resident in the UK for 10 years.

Not born in the UK

  • A British parent spends at least 3 years in the UK in the future, as long as the child is still under 18 at the time of application;
  • A British parent gives birth to a child who is "Stateless" at the time of birth (in other words, the child does not automatically take on the citizenship of their country of birth or a parents' nationality);
  • A British parent is in long-term employment with a UK-domiciled company, but working outside of the UK; OR
  • A discretionary registration in exceptional cases (sporting excellence, for example).

Again, there are many more situations where children under 18 could qualify, and these require a case-by-case analysis of the circumstances.

How do I find out if I have a claim to British Nationality?

Given the complexities of British nationality legislation, and because we handle hundreds of complex enquiries every day, we have developed a simple 4 STEP PROCESS as the most effective way of giving you the answer you’re looking for.


The steps are as follows: 

  • Step 1: Standard vs Non-Standard. Determine whether you have a Standard claim to British nationality. You have a Standard claim if you were born in the UK before 1983, a parent was Naturalised before your birth, or you have a parent born in the UK before 1983 (provided that your parents were married at the time of your birth). All other claims are considered Non-Standard.
  • Step 2: Nationality Assessment: If you do NOT have a Standard Route (as determined in Step 1 above), complete our FREE on-line Nationality Assessment. Your input is filtered against the criteria of hundreds of Non-Standard British nationality solutions that we know of. Your Results Page - the final page on the assessment - will set out all your possible solutions.
  • Step 3: British Passport Review. From your Results Page (reached in Step 2), you can instruct Philip Gamble (our founder and senior partner, and widely regarded as the world's leading expert on the subject) to review your family tree that you create in Step 2. By ordering this FREE review, you are asking Philip for his opinion on your chances of claiming British nationality. Philip will respond by email with a Definite, Likely, Possible, Unlikely or Remote answer.
  • Step 4: Status Trace. You instruct Philip Gamble and his team of specialists in London to review copies of your family documents and research your rights to British nationality. After searching for any possible way in which you can qualify, they will write a detailed Nationality Report, giving you a Yes/No answer. A fee of £350 applies.

What should I do NOW?

To avoid incurring unnecessary research or application fees at this point, we ask you to complete Steps 2 and 3 by:

  1. Completing our FREE online Nationality Assessment
  2. Ordering our FREE British Passport Review

You will receive a series of emails, setting out clearly the solutions that you appear to qualify for, as well as Philip’s response to your British Passport Review. Once you have completed these two steps, we will contact you by phone or email to discuss your nationality situation and talk through what should happen next. This may involve advising you to instruct our team of British nationality specialists to look into your case further to provide a definitive answer (Step 4).

British Nationality Assessment


How to become a British citizen

"Am I British and do I qualify for a British Passport?" These are the two most common questions posed in British Nationality law. We set out below the criteria and requirements to qualify for British Nationality and a British Passport.

If you have tried to research your claim and remain unsure or confused by the British Nationality law that is applied in your case, then you can watch this quick video. It gives you a route to find out:

The UK recognises 5 forms of British Nationality: 

British Citizen

This is the traditional concept of British Nationality, known as full British Citizenship. This can be achieved by the following:

British Overseas Citizen (BOC)

This is a form of British Protection granted to those people born in a non-UK territory where foreign nationality was not granted at birth. It is possible to upgrade to full British Nationality in some circumstances.

British Protected Person (BPP)

This is a form of British Protection granted to those people born in a British Protected State or a British Protectorate. It is possible to upgrade to full British Nationality in some circumstances.

British National Overseas (BNO)

This form of British Nationality was granted to those with specific links to Hong Kong.

British Overseas Territories Citizen (BOTC)

This form of British Nationality is based on birth, residency and "belonging" to the various British Overseas Territories. 


These forms of British Nationality can be achieved in the following ways:

British by Birth

This occurs where a person can claim British Nationality based on their birth in the United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland).

British by Descent

Birth in a non-UK territory to a British parent, or to a mother or father who was born in the United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland).

British by Double Descent

A grandparent born in the UK can result in British Nationality being passed down two generations to their grandchildren. In some cases, a Paternal great grandfather born in the UK can pass on three generations of British Nationality.

British Protection

This occurs where a person was born in a British Protectorate or British Protected State, or where a person was born in a non-UK territory and the subsequent Independence Day arrangements did not grant them nationality of that country. The two resulting types of nationality are British Overseas Citizen (BOC) and British Protected Person (BPP).

Earned British Citizen

This occurs mostly through residence in the United Kingdom, typically after a period of time called Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). This process is called Naturalisation.

Birth or Belonging in a British Overseas Territory

Britain's remaining Dependencies grant a form of British Nationality based on birth or "belonging" in that territory.


The history of British Nationality can be summarised as follows:

Pre 1949 - British Subject

1949 to 1983 - Citizen of the UK and Colonies (CUKC)

Post 1983 - British Citizen or British Overseas Citizen (BOC)


The key British territories over the years included the following:

British Crown Dominions

British Colonies

British Protectorates

British Protected States

British Mandated Territories

British Trust Territories

British Overseas Territories

Foreign Countries with Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ)


European Union