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Claim British citizenship through your grandparents

There are provisions in law allowing a claim to British nationality based on having a grandparent (and, in rare cases, a great grandparent) born in the UK. This is known as double descent.

Born after 1 January 1983 (Under 18)

There are special provisions in British nationality law for children under 18 that may make it possible for you to claim British nationality.

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.

Born after 1 January 1983 (18 and over)

An adult born outside of the UK after 1 January 1983 with a UK-born grandparent may have a claim to British nationality if:

  • They had a UK-born grandfather who was in Crown service at the time of the relevant parent’s birth
  • A parent:
    1. Had a UK-born mother
    2. Did not have a UK-born father
    3. Was registered as a British citizen between 2 February 1979 and 31 December 1982
  • You or a parent were born in a former British colony, subject to further criteria being met.

Born before 1 January 1983

Those born outside of the UK between 1 January 1949 and 31 December 1982 and who have a UK-born grandparent may be able to claim British nationality in certain circumstances.

This is a complex area of British nationality and every case must be assessed on an individual basis. The following are the most common ones:

  • You (or a parent) were born in a former British territory. This excludes the main Commonwealth countries of 1949 (Australia, Canada and New Zealand) but includes India, South Africa and (Southern) Rhodesia at various times.
  • You or a parent was registered as a British citizen, a citizen of the UK and colonies or a federal citizen of Rhodesia & Nyasaland.
  • A parent was in Crown service at the time of your birth.

Your parents married before 1949 and your paternal grandfather was born in the UK.

Born before 1 January 1949

Those born outside of the UK before 1949 and who have a UK-born grandparent may claim British nationality in certain circumstances. These are also complex cases and each claim must be assessed on an individual basis.                          

Typically, but not always, claims arise in one of these three situations:

Contact our citizenship team

Phone us (SA): +27 (0) 21 657 2139

Phone us (UK): +44 (0) 20 7759 7581

South Africa

Regent Square
Doncaster Road
Kenilworth 7708
Cape Town
t: +27 (0) 21 657 2120

United Kingdom

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

Australia

Suite 8.06
9 Yarra Street
South Yarra
Melbourne VIC 3141
t: +613 (0) 86 514 500

Hong Kong

Level 1102
The Lee Gardens
33 Hysan Avenue
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
t: +852 3959 8681

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