United Kingdom - flag United Kingdom - Passport & Nationality - British Citizenship by Double Descent (Sec 2(1) 1981 Sec 14(ii))

Section 2(1) of the BNA 1981 states: 

A person born outside the UK after commencement (01.01.1983) shall be a British Citizen if, at the time of his birth, his father or mother was a British Citizen otherwise than by descent’.

Section 14 of the BNA 1981 defines who is a British Citizen by descent. This section uses the words:

for the purposes of this Act, a British Citizen is a British Citizen by descent if, and only if (i.e. this is list is meant to be exhaustive)....

He/she is a person who is a person born outside the UK before commencement who became a British Citizen on commencement and immediately before commencement – was a person who had the Right of Abode in the UK by virtue ONLY of being a person who immediately before commencement had that right only by virtue of Section 2(1)a or 2(1)b or 2(1)c of the Immigration Act 1971.

The word ‘ONLY’ is key here in section 14. Amongst other things, the Right of Abode is conferred to all Commonwealth citizens with either a mother or a father born in the United Kingdom. Where the father acquires the Right of Abode through his father or grandfather being born in the UK, he also acquires the Right of abode by being a Commonwealth Citizen (the definition of Commonwealth also means a Citizen of the UK and Colonies in this context) with a parent born in the UK.

The father must therefore have acquired the Right of Abode by virtue of more than one provision of the Immigration Act 1971 and therefore cannot ONLY have acquired the Right of Abode through 2(1)b or 2(1)c & 2(1)b because a Commonwealth Citizen with a parent born in the UK also acquires the Right of Abode under 2(1)d.

For the purposes of the 1981 Act, such a person must therefore be treated as a British Citizen otherwise than by descent and should be able to pass the citizenship by virtue of Section 2, to any children born after 01.01.1983.

British Nationality Law after 1983 is not subject to entitlement by male line descent only and so equally those born after 01.01.1983 with mothers in the same position as the father will also qualify.

From a more practical perspective, the successful applicant must demonstrate that:

  • they were born after 01.01.1983; AND
  • a parent was Registered as a Citizen of the UK and Colonies before Independence of the country concerned; OR
  • a parent became a Citizen of the UK and Colonies upon dissolution of the Federation of Rhodesia; AND
  • that parent's mother was born in the UK

Registration as a Citizen of the UK and Colonies could have occurred under:

  • Section 6: applying to anyone who spent at least 12 months in a UK Territory
  • Section 7: applying to a person under the age of 21
  • Dissolution of the Federation of Rhodesia, in which case Registration happened automatically and not by application.

For more solutions involving:

  • British Citizenship by Double Descent,
  • Crown Service,
  • a parent born in a UK controlled territory,
  • a British parent; OR
  • or a grandparent born in the UK,

Then click on British Citizenship by Double Descent.


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.

WhatPassport.com is a subsidiary of Sable International.

Sable International offers a range of services relating to UK and Australian immigration. For over 20 years, we have been helping people with their UK and Australian visa applications. We assist with applications for Ancestry visas, spouse visas, work visas, Tier 1 visas, UK working holiday visas, UK dependant visas, Tier 4 visas, UK Visitor visas, sponsorship visas or UK permanent residency or indefinite leave to remain. We also specialise in UK visa extensions. If you’ve overstayed your visa, our Overstayer Status Trace service can assist to regularise your visa status.