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Countries > United Kingdom > Passport & Nationality

British Citizenship by Descent

Can you claim British Nationality from your British Parent?

Non-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 Stndard 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 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?

We suggest following our 4 STEP PROCESS, designed to simplify the complex laws of British nationality and to avoid uneccessary and expensive application fees, to find your answer:

Step 1: Dertermine whether you have a Standard Route (set out above)
Step 2: If not, complete our free Nationality Assessment
Step 3: Order a free British Passport Review
Step 4: Conduct a Status Trace

Complete our nationality assessment

If you think that you or your children might have a claim to British Nationality (Standard or Non-Standard), take a couple of moments to complete our FREE online passport assessment.

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)

British Nationality Assessment