United Kingdom - flag United Kingdom - Passport & Nationality - British Citizenship by Double Descent (1979 Home Secretary)

This anomaly is a rare example when British Nationality could be passed from a UK-born grandmother down two generations to her grandchildren. Watch this SHORT VIDEO by Philip Gamble on how this solution arises.

The solution requires the following set of circumstances:

  • the applicant born after 01.01.1983
  • the relevant parent (a mother or father) born outside of the UK between 07.02.1961 and 01.01.1983
  • the relevant parent was registered as a Citizen of the UK and Colonies (CUKC) - what is now considered as a British Citizen - as a child (i.e. before they turned 18) in the period between 07.02.1979 and 31.12.1982*;
  • the MOTHER of the parent in question (i.e. the relevant Grandmother of the applicant) must have been born in the United Kingdom (which includes Northern Ireland); AND
  • the FATHER of the parent in question (i.e. the relevant Grandfather of the applicant) must have been born outside of the United Kingdom.

This solution relies on the fact that Merlyn Rees, the British Home Secretary at the time, announced in Parliament on 7 February 1979 that children born to a UK-born mother could be registered at the discretion of the Home Secretary and in advance of the 1981 Nationality Act coming into force. An unintended consequence of such a registration was that the parent was classified as being British otherwise than by descent, with the ability to pass British nationality to their children.

So the key question is when the parent was registered as a British citizen. If it occurred after 31.12.1982*, then the relevant parent became British by descent, without the ability to pass British nationality to their children (though there are other exceptions). However, if it took place before 01.01.1983, then there is a stong possibility that the parent became British otherwise than by descent, with the ability to pass British nationality to their children.

* HOWEVER: if the application for the registration was submitted BEFORE 1.1.1983 but the registration only occurred AFTER 1.1.1983 (for example, the registration certificate is dated in the first half of 1983), then it is possible to argue that the date of application should be treated as the date of registration.


Ask Philip Gamble whether you (or your children) have a claim to British nationality.

Learn more about these routes to British Nationality:

WhatPassport.com is a specialist UK Nationality and British Citizenship site offering an online search and assessment. Claims to hold a British Passport can be complex and the site offers a quick, simple search to give you the answers. While many people qualify for the UK Ancestry Visa based on holding a Commonwealth passport with a UK born grandmother or grandfather, we have found that if you have a grandparent born in the UK, or if your mother is British or your father is British, then there are several scenarios where you can claim British Nationality and the right to hold a British Passport. This stems from Britain’s collection of British Colonies, British Protectorates and British Protected States in the middle of last century and the Nationality rules concerning what are now the countries of the Commonwealth.

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