Children can automatically acquire British citizenship “otherwise than by descent” if they are born in the UK to at least one British or settled parent or by “descent” if they are born outside the UK to a parent who was British otherwise than by descent as British citizenship can descend to one generation born abroad.

In other cases, children must be registered as British citizens either by “entitlement” or “discretion”.

Children under the following circumstances qualify for registration by “entitlement”:

  • When a non-British or non-settled parent of a UK born child becomes a British citizen or settled in the UK
  • When a non-British or non-settled parent of a child born in the UK on or after 13 January 2010 becomes a member of the UK armed forces
  • When a child has lived in the UK for the first 10 years of their life
  • When a child born in the UK who is and has always been stateless has spent a period of 5 years in the UK
  • When a non-British or non-settled parent of a child born abroad on or after 13th January 2010 becomes a member of the UK armed forces
  • If a child was born before 1st July 2006 who would have either become a British citizen automatically or had an entitlement for registration if their parents had been married at the time of the child’s birth

 We are not able to list all circumstances under which the Home Secretary may exercise discretion; however, below is a list of some of the circumstances under which children may qualify for registration by “discretion”:

  • When one or both of the non-British or non-settled parents submit a “family application” for British citizenship and include one or more of their children’s names in the application who were not automatically British by birth
  • When a child’s parent or grandfather is or was in service which became Community institution or designated service after the child’s birth
  • When a child is adopted abroad by a parent who was a British citizen otherwise than by descent
  • When the parent of a child has renounced and later resumed British citizenship
  • Child’s connections with the UK
  • Child’s future and their best interest
  • Parents’ views
  • The time the child has spent in the UK
  • On any compelling circumstances

Please consult with our immigration solicitors to find out whether you qualify for registration as a British citizen either by entitlement or discretion based on your circumstances and how you can apply.