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British citizenship:
Birth out of wedlock

Recent legislation has addressed the question of illegitimacy in the former nationality law.
Limited claims can now be made down the male line through a British father.

New legislation applies to all births

Legislation was made effective in 2006 to allow claims to be made for those born illegitimately to a father who was British otherwise than by descent (i.e. where a father could pass their British nationality down to children). It was only in 2014 that further legislation was passed to allow those born before 2006 to have a claim.

Claiming British nationality as an illegitimate child

This means that where someone has been disadvantaged in the past due to being classified as an illegitimate child, it may now be possible to lodge a remedial application to give the subject the rights that they would have had from the start but for this prior discrimination. The new law even allows some to qualify if they were disadvantaged as an illegitimate child with the relevant country's independence arrangements.

However, there are a few catches. We can deem some illegitimate children British by operation of law using the domicile laws of other countries. If someone is already a British citizen by operation of law, it would be wholly inappropriate to register that person as a British citizen because it would either:

  • Potentially remove rights from any children already born to that person, or
  • Remove nationality of another country because the subject has made a voluntary application to acquire nationality

It therefore follows that anyone who might have a valid claim under these new proposals should always consider the potential negative implications. For this reason, this route to British nationality is considered complex and we require a Status Trace to be conducted first before an application for British nationality can be made.

Get an assessment to see if you may claim British citizenship

If your father was unmarried at the time of your birth, but he was born in the UK, you may still have a claim to British nationality.


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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).

Please note: Sable International is a trading name of Philip Gamble and Co. Ltd. Philip Gamble and Co. Ltd is registered in the UK with the Office of the Immigration Service Commissioner (OISC) under no. F2001-00004. Our staff based outside of the UK are not regulated by the OISC and may be involved in some client casework. However, they work to the same high standards as our UK staff and clients receive the same service regardless of which office they engage with.

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