british citizenship

Types of British nationality

British citizenship, british national, overseas territories citizen, protected person

Contents

British citizenship - types of British nationality

Overview - Types of British nationality

There are 6 different types of British nationality. These are:

Types of British nationality

Prepare for the British Citizenship - Life in the UK Test

Remember, if you wanna do british citizenship firt must pass Life in the UK exam.

Further information

Contact UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) if you’re not sure whether you have British nationality or not.

British citizenship

You can live and work in the UK free of any immigration controls if you’re a British citizen.

You might be able to apply to:

You might already be a British citizen based on where and when you were born, or your parents’ circumstances. Check if you’re a British citizen if you’re not sure.

If you were born in the UK or a British colony before 1 January 1983

You became a British citizen on 1 January 1983 if both of the following apply:

  • you were a citizen of the UK and Colonies (CUKC) on 31 December 1982
  • you had the ‘right of abode’ in the UK

This includes people who were born in a British colony and had the ‘right of abode’ in the UK.

It also includes people who:

  • were born in the UK
  • have been naturalised in the UK
  • had registered as a citizen of the UK and Colonies (CUKC)
  • could prove legitimate descent from a father to whom one of these applies

‘Right of abode’ means you:

  • are entirely free from UK Immigration Control and don’t need permission from an Immigration Officer to enter the UK
  • can live and work in the UK without restriction
If you were born in the UK on or after 1 January 1983
You don’t automatically get British citizenship if you were born in the UK.

If you were born in the UK on or after 1 January 1983, you’ll be a British citizen if your mother or father was either:

  • a British citizen when you were born
  • ‘settled’ in the UK when you were born

‘Settled’ means you can stay in the UK without any time restrictions. This includes people who have one of the following:

In most cases you’ll be a British citizen if your mother or father was born in the UK or naturalised there at the time of your birth.

If you were born before July 2006, your father’s British nationality will normally only pass to you if he was married to your mother at the time of your birth.

If your circumstances are more complicated, you can get more information about British citizenship.

Born outside the UK

You might have British citizenship based on where and when you were born, or your parents’ circumstances - check if you’re a British citizen if you’re not sure.

If you’re a foreign national or Commonwealth citizen, you don’t automatically gain citizenship just because you live in the UK. Check if you can apply to become a British citizen by naturalisation or by registering.

If you’re stateless

If you’re not recognised as a citizen of any country, you’ll be a British citizen if both of the following apply:

  • one of your parents is a British citizen
  • you were born in the UK or an overseas territory on or after 1 January 1983

If these don’t apply then you may be able to register as a British citizen.

British overseas territories citizen

British overseas territories citizenship was called ‘British dependent territories citizenship’ before 26 February 2002.
If you were born before 1 January 1983

You became a British overseas territories citizen on 1 January 1983 if both of these applied:

  • you were a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies (CUKC) on 31 December 1982
  • you had connections with a British overseas territory because you, your parents or your grandparents were born, registered or naturalised in that British overseas territory

You also became a British overseas territories citizen if you were a woman married to a man who became a British overseas territories citizen on 1 January 1983.

If you were born on or after 1 January 1983

You’re a British overseas territories citizen if both the following apply:

  • you were born in a British overseas territory
  • at the time of your birth one of your parents was a British overseas territories citizen or legally settled in a British overseas territory

You’re also a British overseas territories citizen if one of the following applies:

  • you were adopted in an overseas territory by a British overseas territories citizen
  • you were born outside the overseas territory to a parent who gained British overseas territories citizenship in their own right (known as ‘otherwise than by descent’)
Rights as a British overseas territories citizen

You can:

  • hold a British passport
  • get consular assistance and protection from UK diplomatic posts

Unless you’re also a British citizen:

  • you’re still subject to immigration controls - you don’t have the automatic right to live or work in the UK
  • you aren’t considered a UK national by the European Union (EU)
British citizenship
You automatically became a British citizen on 21 May 2002 if your British overseas territories citizenship was gained by connection with a qualifying territory.

The qualifying territories are:

  • Anguilla
  • Bermuda
  • British Antarctic Territory
  • British Indian Ocean Territory
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Cayman Islands
  • Falkland Islands
  • Gibraltar
  • Montserrat
  • Pitcairn Islands
  • Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
Register as a British citizen

You may be able to register as a British citizen if you became a British overseas territories citizen after 21 May 2002 and meet certain conditions.

British overseas citizen

You became a British overseas citizen on 1 January 1983 if both of these applied:

  • you were a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies (CUKC) on 31 December 1982
  • you didn’t become either a British citizen or a British overseas territories citizen on 1 January 1983

Hong Kong

If you were a British overseas territories citizen only because of your connection with Hong Kong you lost that citizenship on 30 June 1997 when sovereignty returned to China.

However, you became a British overseas citizen if either:

  • you had no other nationality and would have become stateless
  • you were born on or after 1 July 1997 and would have been born stateless if one of your parents was a British national (overseas) or British overseas citizen when you were born
Rights as a British overseas citizen

You can:

  • hold a British passport
  • get consular assistance and protection from UK diplomatic posts

Unless you’re also a British citizen:

  • you’re still subject to immigration controls - you don’t have the automatic right to live or work in the UK
  • you aren’t considered a UK national by the European Union (EU)
Become a British overseas citizen

You can only apply to become a British overseas citizen in limited circumstances.

Stateless people

You may be able to register as a British overseas citizen if you’re stateless (not recognised by any country as having a nationality) and both of these apply:

  • you were born in the UK or an overseas territory
  • one of your parents is a British overseas citizen

You may also be able to register if you’re stateless and all of these apply:

  • you were born outside the UK and qualifying territories
  • one of your parents is a British overseas citizen
  • you’ve lived in the UK or an overseas territory for 3 years or more

You have to fill in different forms depending on whether you were:

Children

A child under 18 can be registered as a British overseas citizen in special circumstances.

Read the guidance notes before you apply using Form MN3.
British citizenship

You may be able to register as a British citizen if you’re a British overseas citizen and meet certain conditions.

British subject

Until 1949, nearly everyone with a close connection to the United Kingdom was called a ‘British subject’.

All citizens of Commonwealth countries were British subjects until January 1983.

Since 1983, very few people have qualified as British subjects.

Who is a British subject

You became a British subject on 1 January 1983 if, until then, you were either:

  • a British subject without citizenship, which means you were a British subject on 31 December 1948 who didn’t become a citizen of the UK and Colonies, a Commonwealth country, Pakistan or the Republic of Ireland
  • a person who had been a citizen of the Republic of Ireland on 31 December 1948 and had made a claim to remain a British subject

You also became a British subject on 1 January 1983 if you were a woman who registered as a British subject on the basis of your marriage to a man in one of these categories.

Republic of Ireland citizens

You’re a British subject if you were a citizen of the Republic of Ireland on 31 December 1948 and made a claim to remain a British subject.

If you didn’t make a claim to remain a British subject you can apply to the Home Secretary to become a British subject if either:

  • you’ve been in Crown service for the UK government
  • you’re associated with the UK or a British overseas territory by descent, residence or another way

You can do this by applying for a British subject passport.

Children of British subjects

British subjects can’t normally pass on that status to their children if the children were born after 1 January 1983.

However, a child may be a British subject if they were born on or after 1 January 1983 in the UK or a British overseas territory and all the following apply when they are born:

  • one of their parents is a British subject
  • neither parent is a British citizen, British overseas territories citizen or British overseas citizen
  • they would be stateless without British subject status
Rights as a British subject

You can:

  • hold a British passport
  • get consular assistance and protection from UK diplomatic posts

However, you:

  • are usually subject to immigration controls and don’t have the automatic right to live or work in the UK (there are only rare exceptions to this)
  • aren’t considered a UK national by the European Union (EU)
Becoming a British subject

Stateless people

You may sometimes be able to register as a British subject if:

  • you’re stateless (not recognised by any country as having a nationality)
  • you were born outside the UK or British overseas territories on or after 1 January 1983
You must meet certain conditions. Read the guidance notes before you apply using Form S2.

Children

A child under 18 can be registered as a British subject in special circumstances.

Read the guidance notes before you apply using Form MN4.

Becoming a citizen of another country

Since 1 January 1983 anyone gaining citizenship of any other country can’t be a British subject, unless they’re also a citizen of the Republic of Ireland.

British citizenship

You may be able to register as a British citizen in very limited circumstances if you meet certain conditions.

British national (overseas)

Someone who was a British overseas territories citizen by connection with Hong Kong was able to register as a British national (overseas) before 1 July 1997.

British overseas territories citizens from Hong Kong who didn’t register as British nationals (overseas) and had no other nationality or citizenship on 30 June 1997 became British overseas citizens on 1 July 1997.

If you’re not already a British national (overseas), you can’t apply to become one.
Rights as a British national (overseas)

You can:

  • hold a British passport
  • get consular assistance and protection from UK diplomatic posts

However, you:

  • are subject to immigration controls and don’t have the automatic right to live or work in the UK
  • aren’t considered a UK national by the European Union (EU)

British citizenship

You may be able to register as a British citizen if you’re a British national (overseas) and meet certain conditions.

British protected person

You would have become a British protected person on 1 January 1983 if you:

  • were a citizen or national of Brunei
  • were already a British protected person
  • would otherwise have been born stateless (without a country) in the UK or an overseas territory because, when you were born, one of your parents was a British protected person

In most cases you would have lost your British protected person status if:

  • you gained any other nationality or citizenship
  • the territory you were connected with became independent and you became a citizen of that country
Rights as a British protected person

You can:

  • hold a British passport
  • get consular assistance and protection from UK diplomatic posts

However, you:

  • are subject to immigration controls and don’t have the automatic right to live or work in the UK
  • aren’t considered a UK national by the European Union (EU)
Become a British protected person

You may be able to register as a British protected person only if all the following apply:

  • you’re stateless and always have been
  • you were born in the UK or an overseas territory
  • your father or mother was a British protected person when you were born

Contact UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) if you think you might qualify as a British protected person.

British citizenship

You may be able to register as a British citizen in very limited circumstances if you meet certain conditions.

Different ways to apply for British citizenship

There are different ways to apply for British citizenship based on your circumstances.

Apply for citizenship if you're from the EEA

You should have lived in the UK for at least 5 years before the date of your application.

Marriages and civil partnerships in the UK

Civil partnerships and marriages in the UK

UK residence for EU citizens

There will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens living in the UK until 2021. You and your family can apply for ‘settled status’ to continue living in the UK after June 2021. The scheme will open fully by March 2019.

Countries in the EU and EEA

The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union of 28 countries. It operates an internal (or single) market which allows free movement of goods, capital, services and people between member states.

Apply for citizenship if your spouse is a British citizen

How to apply for British citizenship if you're married to, or in a civil partnership with, a British citizen - who's eligible, fees and where to send your application

Prepare for the British Citizenship - Life in the UK Test

Remember, if you wanna do british citizenship firt must pass Life in the UK exam.

Life in the UK Test

Use this official service for booking a Life in the UK Test as part of your application for citizenship or settlement

Become a British citizen

Check your eligibility for citizenship - how to apply, children under 18, the Life in the UK Test and citizenship ceremonies.

UK citizenship fees

Fees with effect from 6 april 2018 for citizenship application and the right of abode

UK Passport fees

How much it costs to renew or get a new adult or child passport and ways you can pay

British passport eligibility

You can apply for a British passport if you have British nationality. But there are some circumstances where your application can be refused or your existing passport can be retained.

Types of British nationality

There are 6 different types of British nationality. These are:...

Dual citizenship UK

Dual citizenship (also known as dual nationality) is allowed in the UK. Read the rules and how to apply.

Register as a British citizen

How to register as a British citizen - who's eligible, fees and where to send your application

Prove your knowledge of English for citizenship and settling

How you can show you know English when you apply for citizenship and to settle in the UK, and when you don't have to

Prove you have right of abode in the UK

Having right of abode means you're allowed to live or work in the UK without any immigration restrictions - apply for a certificate of entitlement to prove you have it

Apply to become a British citizen by naturalisation

Use form AN to apply for citizenship by naturalisation if you are living in the UK.

Apply online for a UK passport

You can apply for, update, renew or replace a passport online

Brexit

Information for EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals living, working, visiting and studying in the EU.

Settle status in the UK

Find out if you can apply to settle in the UK

Visa 4UK

Apply online for a UK visa to visit friends, work in the UK, study or join a family member or partner already in the UK.

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british citizenship

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Prepare for the British Citizenship - Life in the UK Test

Remember, if you wanna do british citizenship firt must pass Life in the UK exam.