A common concern for British citizens who live abroad and have a family is whether they will be able to pass on their citizenship to their children who are born outside of the UK. The UK government recently produced detailed guidance aimed at answering precisely this question.

What is the situation facing children born outside of the UK in overseas territories?

It is important to understand that British citizenship not only relates to the respective nations that make up Great Britain. There are several territories that maintain a close relationship with the UK, known as ‘British Overseas Territories’. These territories include, amongst others, Anguilla, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Virgin Islands.

Where a child is born in one of these territories, they will automatically be granted citizenship of that overseas British territory, provided either:

  1. Their parent was a British overseas territory citizen; or
  2. Their parents, whilst not being a citizen, settled in a British overseas territory. This essentially means that the parents were not subject to any immigration restrictions and are an ordinary ‘resident’ in that particular territory.

The question of whether a child born in an overseas British territory will also enjoy British citizenship will depend on the time of their birth:

If a child was born before 21 May 2002 in a British overseas territory, they will also enjoy British citizenship on that same date of their birth in the overseas territory. The only exception to this rule is where the child is a citizen of an overseas British territory by some connection with the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia (in Cyprus); or is already a British citizen by descent.

Alternatively, if a child was or is born on or after May 2012, they will be deemed a British citizen provided that, when they are born, one of their parents is a British citizen or they settled in the UK or in an overseas British territory.

What is the case if a child is born to parents who are British ‘otherwise than by decent’?

It is increasingly common for children to be born to British parents who enjoy British citizenship ‘otherwise than by descent’. This refers to parents who were born, adopted or naturalised in the UK. In these cases their child born to parents who are British citizens ‘otherwise than by descent’ will also be entitled to British citizenship.

It is important to note, however, that the situation is different for children who have parents that are British ‘by descent’. This refers to parents who were born outside the UK to parents who were British citizens ‘otherwise than by descent’. In those cases, it will not be possible for a child to enjoy British citizenship – parents cannot ‘pass on’ British citizenship – unless there are special circumstances, i.e. the child’s parents are employed in the Crown service, European Community institution service or a specially designated service.

Contact Sultan Lloyd Solicitors

The law governing UK citizenship is complicated and demands the attention of specialist immigration lawyers. Sultan Lloyd Solicitors are specialists in the field of Immigration law and citizenship. Our team is made up of lawyers that are highly trained in advising on all aspects of UK immigration law and assisting clients to complete the necessary paperwork. Contact our team now on +44 (0)1217264733, by mobile on: +44 (0)7961 314 247 or email:[email protected].