Changes to British law on citizenship come into effect today

- Posted in United Kingdom by Visa Bureauon 13 January 2010

These citizenship laws do not change the requirement for naturalisation as a British citizen, and the “earned citizenship” provision will not commence until July 2011 and until that time there are transitional arrangements for this provision.

The British citizenship changes affect children born overseas to parent in the armed forces, children born outside the UK to British citizens by descent, British nationals (overseas) with no other citizenship or nationality, and children of British mothers.
As of today, a child born outside the UK after 13 January can register as a British citizen if:

  • They were born to a Foreign and Commonwealth member of the UK armed forces;
  • that parent was serving outside the UK at the time of birth; AND
  • Both parents consent to the registration.

Children of British citizens by descent can be registered under section 3(2) of the British Nationality Act 1981 if an application is made at any time before their 18th birthday.

British nationals (overseas) can be registered under section 4B of the British Nationality Act 1981 if they do not hold any other citizenship or nationality, but a British national (overseas) will not qualify under this section if he or she has done anything after 19 March 2009 that resulted in the loss of another nationality.

Persons who have a British mother will have a right to register as a British citizen under section 4C of the British Nationality Act 1981, if they would have become a British citizen at birth had women been able to pass on citizenship in the same way as men. Before today, this right applied only to those born after 7 February 1961.

A further clarification has been made and the law has been changed so that anyone born in the UK after 13 January 2010 to a parent in the UK armed forces will automatically be a British citizen.


The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people lodge UK Immigration applications with the British High Commission.