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How can you qualify for British Nationality and be eligible for a BRITISH PASSPORT? You can do so if the following criteria apply:

  • You were BORN IN THE UK* (or Northern Ireland) before 1983. You will have been classified as British Otherwise than by Descent, can hold a British Passport, and can pass British Nationality to your children, irrespective of where these children are born. Read more about a British Passport by Birth.
  • You have a PARENT* who Naturalised before your birth or who was born in the UK (or Northern Ireland) before 1983. If you were born on or after 1 January 1983, then British nationality would have passed to you automatically (unless it is based on your father only and your parents weren't legally married at the time of your birth). If you were before 1 January 1983, then British nationality would have passed to you automatically through your father (but only if your parents were legally married at the time of your birth). If you were born before 1 January 1983 and your claim is through your mother, then you must first register as a British citizen. Read more about a British Passport by Descent.
  • You have a GRANDPARENT or GREAT GRANDPARENT born in the UK (or Northern Ireland) and you meet one of the qualifying criteria. Read more about a British Passport by Double Descent.

* It gets more complicated if:


Other ways to Qualify: Non-Standard Claims

All other applications for a British Passport are known as Non-Standard. Acquiring a British Passport in such situations needs to be determined on a case-by-case basis, and would rely on the exceptions allowed through nationality law or the anomalies created by the drafting of old colonial nationality law.


How do I find out if I can get a British Passport?

Given the complex requirements of British nationality legislation, and because we handle hundreds of 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 a British Passport. 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 claim (as determined in Step 1 above), complete our FREE online 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: Status Tracew. From your Results Page (reached in Step 2), you can instruct our British nationality experts to review your family tree that you created in Step 2. By ordering this FREE review, you are asking for their opinion on your chances of claiming a British Passport. The team will respond by email with a Definite, Likely, Possible, Unlikely or Remote answer.
  • Step 4: Citizenship Report. You instruct our team of British nationality experts to review copies of your family documents and research your rights to a British Passport. After searching for any possible way in which you can qualify, they will write a detailed Nationality Report, giving you a definitive 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 Status Trace

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 Status Trace. 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 UK Nationality specialists to look into your case further to provide a definitive answer (Step 4).

The United Kingdom recognises 5 forms of British Citizenship: 

British Citizen

  • This is the traditional concept of British Nationality, known as full British Nationality, and allows a person to hold a British Passport.

British Overseas Citizen (BOC)

  • This is a form of British Protection granted to those people born in a non-UK territory where foreign nationality was not granted at birth. It is possible to upgrade to full UK Nationality and a British Passport in some circumstances.

British Protected Person (BPP)

  • This is a form of British Protection granted to those people born in a British Protected State or a British Protectorate. It is possible to upgrade to full British Nationality and a British Passport in some circumstances.

British National Overseas (BNO)

  • This form of British Nationality was granted to those with specific links to Hong Kong.

British Overseas Territories Citizen (BOTC)

  • This form of British Nationality is based on birth, residency and "belonging" to the various British Overseas Territories. 

The history of British Nationality can be summarised as follows:

The key British territories over the years included the following:

British Crown Dominions

British Colonies

British Protectorates

British Protected States

British Mandated Territories

British Trust Territories

British Overseas Territories

Foreign Countries with Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ)


European Union


Key Terms

British Passport
UK Passport


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.