Now You Can Get a British Passport even if Your British Father wasn't Married at the time of your Birth

British Citizenship 2005 by https://www.flickr.com/photos/thisparticulargreg/

British Citizenship 2005 by ThisParticularGreg / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

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As of April 6, 2015, if you do not have British citizenship but your father was a British citizen, your parents never married, and you were born before July 1, 2006, you will now have the possibility of acquiring British citizenship. Before July 1, 2006, if your father was a British citizen but your parents never married, you could not obtain British citizenship through your father. As of July 1, 2006 the law was modified to allow those born to a British father and with parents that had never married, to acquire British citizenship through their father. The law was not made retroactive, however, so, until recently, it only applied to those born after July 1, 2006. In 2014, the Nationality Act was yet again modified. There has been a steady stream of changes to the Act starting in the 1800s. This is the latest change to the Nationality Act, and it involves making the 2006 changes retroactive to those born before July 1, 2006 to a British father with unmarried parents. Applications and guides will be made available at the UK government website a short time before the April 6, 2015 date.

If you are a person who was born before July 1, 2006 and:

  • Had your parents been married you would have automatically become a British citizen under the British Nationality Act of 1981;
  • Had your parents been married, you would currently have had an entitlement to registration under the provisions of the British Nationality Act of 1981;

Then you will be able to file an application for British citizenship as of April 6, 2015. To further clarify, the 2 groups listed above can be divided into 4 groups of persons potentially affected by this latest change in British citizenship rules:

  • If you are a person who, had your parents been married, could have qualified for registration under several sections of the British Nationality Act 1981. Namely:
    • Section 1(3) which states that you are entitled to register as a British citizen if, as a minor, your mother or father became a British citizen or became settled in the UK, and an application was made to register you as a British citizen.
    • Section 3(2) which states that if you are a person born outside the UK and qualifying territories, or a person born stateless, for whom in either case, one parent was a British citizen by descent and for whom the other parent became a British citizen otherwise than by descent or would have done so if they had not died, then you are entitled to register as a British citizen.
    • Section 3(5) which states that if at the time of your birth your father or mother was a British citizen by descent and that your parents had been in the UK for the 3 years prior to your application for registration, and you had not been away for longer than 270 days in that period, and consent to your registration had been given, then you are eligible for registration as a British citizen.
    • Schedule 2, section 4 which states that if you were born outside the UK, you are entitled to register if: you are and have always been stateless, at the time of your birth your mother or father was a British citizen or a British subject, that you had resided in the UK for 3 years previous to your application for registration, and you were not away from the UK for more than 270 days in that period, then you are entitled to be registered as a British citizen.
    • Schedule 2, section 5 which states that if you were born before January 1, 1983, and the 1981 British Nationality Act had not been passed, and you as a person under the 1964 British Nationality Act could have applied for registration as a British citizen, then you are entitled to register as a British citizen.  
  • If you are a person who was born after January 1, 1983, who would have become a British citizen automatically had your parents been married.
  • If you are a person who was born before January 1, 1983, who was at that time a Citizen of the UK and Colonies (CUKC), and who would have become a British citizens if your parents had been married.
  • If you are a person who was born before January 1, 1983, who would have acquired the status of a British subject or a Citizen of the UK and Colonies (CUKC), and you would have subsequently gone on to become a British citizen, had your parents been married.

Remember that a British citizen, a British subject and a CUKC are all different categories under current or previous UK citizenship laws, so you should be clear which category applied to you at the time of your birth and which category applied to your parents at the time of your birth. As well, the new changes to British citizenship rules apply only to those persons whose natural (biological) father was not married to their mother, including those whose mother was married to someone else. There are several ways to prove paternity (who your natural father is):

  • Someone who is named on your birth certificate as your father as long as said birth certificate was issued within one year of your birth.
  • A DNA test.
  • A court order.
  • Other evidence that demonstrates paternity.

The above changes to the citizenship laws do not apply to the following persons:

  • If you are a person who could have become a British citizen had your parents registered your birth, or registered you as a British subject or a CUKC, but they did not do so.
  • If you are a person who could have become a British citizen but for the fact that your grandparents were not married.
  • If you are a person who acquired British citizenship in some other manner and then subsequently renounced it or were stripped of your citizenship.

If you register as a British citizen on or after April 6, 2015 and are from the last 3 groups of the 4 listed above, then you will be classified as a British citizen by descent. If you register as a British citizen on or after April 6, 2015 and you are from the first group of the above 4, and section 3(2) describes your situation (the 2nd subgroup of the 1st group listed above), then you will also be classified as a British citizen by descent.

Please note that if you are applying under the 1st group listed above then you must pay an application fee to register. If you are applying under one of the other 3 groups, then you do not have to pay such a fee, but you will have to pay a ceremony fee of £80.

Confused? Comment below and we will do our best to help you.

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