British Citizenship and Naturalisation
Can I get British Nationality?
British citizenship and nationality law is complex, due in part to Britain’s imperial past and its historical relationship with other countries around the world. In some cases, it can be necessary to go back several generations to identify whether an individual is a British citizen or is entitled to apply for British citizenship.
There are six different types of British nationality:
- British citizenship;
- British Overseas Territories citizen;
- British overseas citizen;
- British subject;
- British national (overseas); and
- British protected person.
British citizenship itself has two categories – those who are “British citizens by descent” and those who are “British citizens otherwise than by descent”. The type of citizenship an individual holds is important because it will determine whether they can automatically pass their citizenship on to their children, irrespective of where they are born.
Determining whether an individual automatically qualifies as a British citizen usually depends on three factors:
- Where they were born;
- When they were born; and
- Their parents’ circumstances at the time of their birth.
In relation to the other five types of British nationality, these are mostly a legacy of the British Empire and will not normally provide a right to live or work in the UK without the correct immigration status.
Some individuals may be British but do not hold a UK passport. In these cases, an individual may be eligible to apply for a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode in their foreign passport, which will allow them to live and work in the UK as a British citizen without holding a UK passport.
For those who are not automatically a British citizen, the route to becoming British will be either through naturalisation or registration.
Finally, there may be situations where you could obtain permission to live and work in the UK long-term if at least one of your grandparents was born in the UK. You can read more about UK Ancestry visas here.