British Citizenship by Descent

Can you claim British Nationality from your British Parent?

Standard Claims

You are normally eligible for British citizenship by Descent (and what we would term a STANDARD route to British Nationality) if you were born to a parent* (a father or mother) who was:

  • born in the UK before 01.01.1983; OR
  • Naturalised in the UK before your birth.

In such situations, the relevant parent is considered as being British Other than by Descent, and can pass British nationality to their children.

* It gets more complicated if:

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

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 British parent born outside of the UK, or 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 children under the age of 18 of a British parent to claim British Nationality. These are generally covered by the following situations:

  • A British parent has spent at least 3 years in the UK in the past;
  • 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


More information

"Do I qualify for a British Passport if my Mother or Father is British?" This is one of the most common questions faced in assessing British Citizenship by Descent. We set out below the criteria and requirements to qualify for British Nationality by Descent and to a British Passport by Descent - that is, qualifying through a parent.

British Citizenship by Descent is based on birth outside of the United Kingdom to a parent who is British or was born in the UK. Your date of Birth and the status of your parent is crucial in determining whether that parent can pass British Nationality to you. As a general rule, you qualify for British Citizenship if a parent was British Other Than by Descent at the time of your birth.

British Citizens (i.e. those who hold full British Nationality and the right to carry a British Passport) can be divided into two categories:

  • British by Descent
  • British Other Than by Descent

For more information on how British Nationality could be acquired by Descent from a British Parent, then watch this short video by Philip Gamble:

British Nationality by Descent

Being "British by Descent" is the less powerful. It does not give the right to automatically pass on British Nationality to one's children born outside the UK. It is a status achieved ONLY because your parent was British.

Being "British Other than by Descent" is the more powerful. It covers all those categories other than a British Citizen by Descent. With such a status, you can pass on British Nationality to your children, irrespective of where they are born.

Click here for more general rules on:

British Nationality
British Nationality by Birth (from birth in the UK)
British Nationality by Double Descent (passed down from a UK-born grandparent)