close menu

Get British citizenship for your kids before they turn 18

by Philip Gamble | Jan 23, 2018
  • Giving your child the gift of British citizenship could be one of the most important things you do for them. A British passport not only gives your child the opportunity to live and work in the UK, it allows them to enter and exit most countries with relative ease.
    two-girls-children-uk-flag

    Why you need to apply before your child turns 18

    The legislation surrounding claims to British citizenship generally contains provisions for children under the age of 18, who have a connection to the UK, to register as British citizens. The requirements vary from case to case, but one constant is that these rights to British citizenship often fall away (and are lost forever) once the child turns 18.

    If you think your child has a claim, you need to act before their 18th birthday. Note that the age requirement here is simply that they are under the age of 18 on the date of the application and so it is possible to apply up until a few days before their 18th birthday.

    There are several scenarios in which your child could be eligible to apply for British citizenship. The most common ones are outlined below, but if you think your child might have a claim that does not fit with the scenarios listed, you can leave a comment on this blog and we’ll get back to you.

    How to figure out if your child has a claim

    Is the child resident in the UK?

    If a child is resident in the UK and their family is settled there, they may be registered as a British citizen if:

    • Their family have settled in the UK (i.e. obtained indefinite leave to remain)
    • They have at least one parent who is naturalising as a British citizen (or is already British) and the other parent holds settled status
    • The child also holds settled status
    • The child is aged over 13 and has at least two years’ UK residence

    Please note: Where the child’s parents have separated, are living separately, or were never married, different criteria apply, and the Home Office will assess each application on a case-by-case basis.

    Does the child have a grandparent born in the UK?

    A child who is under 18, and was born and is resident outside of the UK, with a UK-born grandparent, has a potential claim to British nationality if any one of the following nine sets of circumstances apply:

    1. The child’s British parent spent at least two and a half years in the UK in the past and was British at the time of the child’s birth
    2. The relevant parent has a UK-born mother, did not have a UK-born father, and was registered as a British citizen between 2 February 1979 and 31 December 1982
    3. The relevant parent was British and was in long-term employment with a UK-domiciled company at the time of the child’s birth
    4. The child did not acquire a nationality automatically at birth
    5. The child’s parent was born in a British colony
    6. The child had a UK-born grandfather who was in Crown Service at the time of the relevant parent’s birth
    7. The child’s family moves to the UK before the child turns 15 and the child and their family spend at least three years in the UK before the child’s 18th birthday
    8. The child is gifted in sports, music or the arts
    9. A discretionary registration is justified (but only in exceptional circumstances)

    Want to apply for British citizenship for your child?

    The child’s father is British by birth or has naturalised as a British citizen

    The child will acquire British citizenship automatically at birth if the parents were married at the time of birth. However, the child will not acquire British citizenship automatically at birth, but may be eligible to apply for British citizenship if:

    • The father was born in the UK or naturalised as a British citizen prior to the child’s birth; and
    • The child was born before 1 July 2006; and
    • The child was born in or out of wedlock

    Where the child’s parents were married after the child’s birth, the position may be different. This will depend on the country in which the parents were domicile at the time of the child’s birth and on the date of their marriage.

    Children adopted abroad by British parents

    Children under the age of 18 who are adopted abroad by British parents may be considered for British citizenship at the Home Secretary’s discretion. The following requirements must be met to apply:

    • At least one of the adoptive parents is a British citizen other than by descent (e.g. by birth)
    • Both adoptive parents have provided their consent to the registration
    • There is no reason to refuse on character grounds
    • The UKBA are satisfied that all relevant adoption laws have been adhered to

    See also: 5 unusual ways you can claim British citizenship

    What if none of these apply?

    If none of the above apply, your child could still benefit from one of the immigration routes for those with British parents or grandparents.  

    There are many different routes to citizenship and you may be unaware of potential routes that may be available for you or your children. It would be in your interest to consult an expert who can assess your family tree and advise you on the unique circumstances which could apply.


    Our citizenship consultants can assist you in establishing whether you or your child has a claim to British citizenship, no matter how complex the case may be. Get in touch with us on +44 (0) 20 7759 7581 or citizenship@sableinternational.com

    We are a professional services company that specialises in cross-border financial and immigration advice and solutions.

    Our teams in the UK, South Africa and Australia can ensure that when you decide to move overseas, invest offshore or expand your business internationally, you’ll do so with the backing of experienced local experts.

    • porto-bridge-sunshine-portugal
      A more affordable way to get an EU residency
      Jul 30, 2018  |  by Andrew Rissik
    • portuguese-flag-blue-sky
      South African investors set their eyes on Portugal’s booming property market
      Jun 29, 2018  |  by Andrew Rissik
    • Big-ben
      The good character requirement: Minor offences that could cost you your British citizenship
      Jun 26, 2018  |  by John Dunn
    • eu-uk-flags
      If you’ve got an EU passport, this is how you can settle in the UK post-Brexit
      Apr 18, 2018  |  by Philip Gamble
    • british citizenship double descent
      Thousands of South Africans eligible for British citizenship through double descent after ground-breaking Supreme Court ruling
      Apr 17, 2018  |  by Philip Gamble
    • portugal-harbour
      Successful Golden Visa applications skyrocket in 2018
      Apr 10, 2018  |  by Samantha Carter-Vawda
    • Crowd-of-people
      Why EU nationals are suddenly scrambling for British citizenship
      Feb 09, 2018  |  by Philip Gamble
    • big-ben-london-sunset
      A guide to securing British citizenship as an EU national
      Feb 08, 2018  |  by Philip Gamble
    • uk-passport-blue
      Read this before you apply for your British passport
      Feb 07, 2018  |  by John Dunn
    • london-sunset-thames-dusk
      Can you inherit British citizenship from someone you aren’t related to?
      Dec 19, 2017  |  by Reg Bamford
     
     

    South Africa

    Cape Town

    Regent Square
    Doncaster Road
    Kenilworth 7708 +27 (0) 21 657 2120

    Durban

    201 The Annex
    Ridgeside Office Park
    Umhlanga +27 (0) 31 536 8843

    United Kingdom

    London

    Castlewood House
    77/91 New Oxford Street
    WC1A 1DG +44 (0) 20 7759 7514

    Croydon

    5-7 Selsdon Road
    South Croydon
    CR2 6PU +44 (0) 20 7759 7581

    Australia

    Melbourne

    9 Yarra Street
    South Yarra
    VIC 3141 +613 (0) 8651 4500

    Sable International is a trading name of 1st Contact Money Limited (company number 07070528), registered in England and Wales. We are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK (FCA no. 517570), the Financial Services Conduct Authority in South Africa (1st Contact Money [PTY] Ltd - FSP no. 41900) and hold an Australian Financial Services License issued by ASIC to deal in foreign exchange (1st Contact Group - AFS License number 335 126).

    This site uses cookies, read more or close this notice.