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Claiming British citizenship for children outside UK

Even if a child has no UK-born grandparent there are provisions in law for children under 18 who are not resident in the UK to make a specific registration as a British citizen.

A child under 18 born outside of the UK without a UK-born grandparent may have a potential claim to British nationality if any of the following apply:

  • A parent is British otherwise than by descent
  • The child did not acquire a nationality automatically at birth (irrespective of whether the child subsequently gained nationality at a later date) and a parent was British at the time of the child’s birth*
  • The family relocates to the UK (on a British or EU passport or a qualifying residency visa) and the child accompanies the family as a dependant**

A specific application for registration as a British citizen can be made before the child turns 18. It can be important to take action before a child turns 18. After they turn 18, several rights to British nationality fall away and can be lost forever.

* This is particularly common in countries that do not grant automatic nationality at birth or who require (one of) the parents to hold a particular status at the time of the child's birth.

** The child can be registered as a British citizen before the age of 18 in certain circumstances.

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