United Kingdom - Passport & Nationality - British Citizenship by Descent (British Mother)
You are eligible for British Citizenship by Descent (and what we would term a STANDARD route to British Citizenship) if you were born to a mother who:
- was born in the UK before 1 Jan 1983;
- was born in the UK after 31 Dec 1982 and was British at the time of your birth; OR
- naturalised as a British citizen before your birth.
In such situations, the mother is considered as being British Other than by Descent, and passes British Citizenship to their children.
NON STANDARD ROUTE
If your mother does not fall fall within the definitions above, your position becomes more complex. If your mother was British at the time of your birth and she was not born in the UK, then:
- If her father (your maternal grandfather) was born in the UK (and your mother was born in wedlock), then your mother was (almost certainly) British by Descent at the time of your birth. It is unlikely (though there are exceptions) that she could pass on British nationality rights to her children.
- If her father (your maternal grandfather) was a) born in the UK (and your mother was born out of wedlock) or b) born outside of the UK, then the position is much more complex. An anlysis of your mother's British nationality status must be undertaken in order to determine whether British nationality rights passed down to her children.
ANTI GENDER DISCRIMINATION
The law has changed recently to remedy the gender discrimination that was prevalent in British nationality. As a result, you should note that:
- if you were born after 31 December 1982 to a British mother (defined above), you were born a British citizen and can apply for your British passport; OR
- if you were born before 1 January 1983 to a British mother (defined above), you must first register as a British citizen before applying for your British passport.
BIRTH OUT OF WEDLOCK
If your parents weren't married at the time of your birth, or only married after your birth, the situation is unchanged. As a general rule, birth out of wedlock does not invalidate an application, though it does tend to complicate it.
There will be some who don't qualify under this provision:
- Your mother could have lost rights to British Nationality through marriage before 1949 to a man who was considered from a "foreign country".
- You were born in a former British territory before it gained independence, and you suffered from the Automatic Loss provisions enacted upon independence. This is particularly common where you did not have a paternal grandfather born in the UK or another British territory.
- Your mother's birth did not result in her acquiring British Nationality.
RENUNCIATION AND RESUMPTION
If you have renounced your British nationality, it is possible to resume it again (but you can only do so once). Your right to resumption will depend on the right that you have to British nationality had you never renounced in the first place, as well as the circumstances of the renunciation.
This is often a complex situation, and we strongly advise that you seek specialist advice.
If you have spent (or can spend in the future) at least 3 consecutive years in the UK (this can be reduced to nearer 2 years and 3 months in some cases), then a child born to you can be registered as a British citizen, as long as:
- you are British at the time of your child's registration; AND
- your child is under 18.