Applying for British Citizenship? A Simple Guide to British Citizenship

British Citizenship can be acquired “automatically”, by registration or by naturalisation.



A person is automatically entitled to a British citizenship if he/she is born in the UK after 1983 and at the time of the birth, at least one parent (father/mother) held British citizenship or held a settled status such as indefinite leave to remain. A child born to a British citizen in certain overseas territories, after 2002, will also be a British citizen.


A child who is born after 1 January 1983 and born outside the United Kingdom to parents who were British citizens at the time of the birth of the child or at least one parent was a British citizen or held a settled status; such child will acquire British citizenship by descent. The right to citizenship is automatic and it is restricted only to the first generation, which is born outside the UK although there are certain exemptions to this general rule


A person can also acquire British citizenship by registering as a British citizen with the Home Office in following common cases. Such person has to fulfil the requirements. This category includes a “person who is British Overseas Territories citizen”, a British national (overseas), a British Overseas citizen, a British subject, a British protected person. It is important to note that where the requirements of registration are fulfilled, such person will be held entitled to British Citizenship which means that the Secretary of State cannot refuse his/her application for registration as a British citizenship.


 Unlike registration and automatic right to British citizenship, naturalisation is a difficult category for obtaining British citizenship. It is discretionary, which means that the Secretary of State can refuse to grant a citizenship. The applicant has to fulfil the required criteria.


  • The applicant must be of good character
  • The applicant must have sufficient knowledge about life in the UK
  • The applicant must have Sufficient knowledge of the English language
  • The applicant must intend to have the UK as his/her principal or main home
  • The residential requirements must be fulfilled by the applicant (please refer to Residence requirements detailed below)

Important Note

It is important to note that the Secretary of State has the discretion to waive some of these requirements

Residential Requirements

  • The applicant was physically in the UK at the start of the period of 5 years period ending with the date of the application
  • The applicant must not be absent from the UK for more than 450 days during that 5 years’ time period. The applicant must not be absent from the UK for more than 90 days in the last 12 months of the 5 years’ time period.
  • The applicant must be free from any immigration restriction for at least 12 months before sending an application for naturalisation (holds Indefinite leave to remain for at least 12 months).
  • Finally, the applicant must not be in breach of immigration law at any time during this qualifying period of 5 years.

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