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Countries > United Kingdom > Passport & Nationality

British Citizenship

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 United Kingdom recognise 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 briefly 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)

Commonwealth

European Union

British Nationality To discover whether you are entitled to a British Passport or one of the five forms of British Nationality, take 2 minutes to complete our FREE Nationality Search...

British Nationality Assessment