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British Nationality

The subject of British Nationality can be complicated in certain circumstances, with a number of different ways in which a person may be, or may become a British Citizen

A person can become a British Citizen either by naturalisation, or by registration. The naturalisation provisions are less complex than those for registration and the most common ways of naturalising as a British Citizen are set out below

Naturalisation through five years of residency

After holding indefinite leave to remain for 12 months a person can apply for British Citizenship providing that they can satisfy the five year residency requirements, namely that

You were in the UK on the date 5 years prior to the date the application is received by the UK Border Agency; and

Your are aged 18 or over

You not been absent from UK for more than the permitted days


Children under 18 are not naturalised as British Citizens, but depending on circumstances they can often become registered as such. For example, where a child was born in the UK to parents who held limited leave to remain at the time of the birth and subsequently obtained indefinite leave to remain, an application can then be made for the child to be registered as a British Citizen. Additionally, children who are born in the UK to parents who hold indefinite leave to remain are British Citizens by birth and can apply for British passports immediately

Other ways you can qualify for British Citizenship are as follows:

  • You have another form of British nationality; overseas citizen, protected person, are a British subject, or overseas national
  • Your father is a British citizen
  • Your mother is a British citizen and you were born before 1 January 1983
  • You were born in the UK on or after 1983
  • You are currently stateless
  • You are connected with Gibraltar or Hong Kong
  • You are under the age of 18 and do not meet naturalisation qualifications

Right Of Abode And Certificate Of Entitlement.

If you have the right of abode (which means you have the unrestricted right to enter and live in the UK) you can live and work in the UK without meeting the British citizenship requirements above. You will not require a visa, and there is no limit to how long you can stay in the UK. You may also come and go as you please. Once you prove your right of abode you will need to apply for a certificate of entitlement, and again each time your passport expires. You automatically have right of abode if you are a British citizen or have a UK passport that describes you as a British citizen or subject.

Here are some of the criteria you will need to meet to gain a right of abode:

  • One or both of your parents was born in the UK and were a citizen of the UK when you were born or adopted—even if you are not a citizen
  • You were a Commonwealth citizen as of 31 December 1982
  • You are a woman who was married to someone with the right of abode before 1 August 1988
  • You are a woman who entered the UK before 1 August 1988 with their married partner
    Depending on the date of your marriage, women may lose their right of abode if they are divorced and their partner has remarried or remarried and widowed, or their new spouse has a certificate of entitlement

Your Partner/Spouse is a UK Citizen

  • The Applicant can apply for citizenship after 12 months of granting settlement
  • Applicant must meet: the residency requirement by demonstrating that:
    • they have lived in the UK for at least five years before the date of application; and
    • they have spent less than 450 days outside the UK during the five year period
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