British Citizenship for Children Born Abroad | A Full Guide

Child born abroad british citizen picture


In today’s globalised world, obtaining British citizenship for children born abroad is more crucial than ever. At Primus Solicitors, we specialize in simplifying the complex legal process, ensuring a successful outcome. Our expert team stays updated on evolving immigration laws, providing proactive solutions and empathetic support. With us, you’ll have a dedicated partner to guide you through the journey, making the path to British citizenship for your child smoother and more certain.

Understanding British Citizenship by Descent

British citizenship by descent is a clear option for children born to British parents while living outside the UK. This path has specific requirements, which you can find detailed on our British Citizenship by Descent page. However, it’s important to understand that it can involve some complex legal details. Understanding these legal details can be a complex task, as they can vary from case to case.

children born aboard citizenship infographic


Eligibility Criteria for British Citizenship for Children Born Abroad

Eligibility for British citizenship for children born abroad is a multifaceted matter, as it relies on several factors that can differ from one case to another. Having a comprehensive grasp of these eligibility criteria is paramount when embarking on the path to secure British citizenship for your child.

Criteria may encompass, the likes of:

  1. Parentage: The child’s eligibility often depends on whether one or both parents are British citizens, and their own citizenship status.
  2. Residency: The duration and nature of the parents’ residence abroad play a significant role. Different rules may apply if the parents were born in the UK, have British citizenship, or have been residing in the UK.
  3. Immigration Status: The immigration status of the parents, especially if they are not British citizens, can impact the child’s eligibility.
  4. Changes in Immigration Laws: It’s essential to stay updated with any recent changes in immigration laws and regulations, as they can affect eligibility criteria.
  5. Special Circumstances: In some cases, special circumstances such as adoption, surrogacy, or parental death may influence eligibility and require additional considerations.


Factor Description
Parent’s Status British National by birth or naturalisation
Birthplace Country of the child’s birth and its citizenship laws
Date of Birth Different rules may apply depending on the year

Step-by-Step Process for Registering Your Child as a British Citizen

If your child is born overseas and doesn’t automatically qualify for British citizenship but has a British parent, there’s still a pathway to potentially secure British nationality through the registration process. This route, although uniquely distinct from naturalisation, presents its own set of legal complexities.

Unlike the process of British citizenship through naturalisation, your child won’t be required to meet certain standard prerequisites, such as demonstrating English language proficiency or passing the Life in the UK test. However, there are specific requirements that you must fulfil to apply for Citizenship for Children born abroad:

  1. Comprehensive Immigration History: You’ll need to provide a detailed immigration history for your child, outlining their movements and residency status in various countries.
  2. Reasons for Applying: It’s essential to articulate your reasons for seeking British citizenship for your child. These reasons can vary, and providing a clear and compelling case is crucial.
  3. Original Documents: You’ll be required to submit original documents, including birth certificates and current passports, to establish your child’s identity and eligibility.
  4. Biometric Information: As part of the application process, biometric information, such as fingerprints and a photograph, will be collected. The cost for this process is typically less than £20.



Can You Apply for A British Passport for a Child Born Abroad?

If you have a child who was born abroad, you may still be eligible to of obtaining a British passport for them.

Here’s what you need to know:

Eligibility for a British Passport

  1. Automatic British Citizen: If your child is an automatic citizen by birth or descent, or if you have successfully registered them as a British citizen, they are eligible to apply for a British passport.
  2. Parental Responsibility: The passport application for your child must be made by someone who holds parental responsibility for the child.

Application Methods

  • By Post: Submit a postal application for your child’s passport.
  • Online: Apply for your child’s passport online, which is often a faster and more convenient option.

Application Fees

As of February 2023, the fees for a child’s passport application are as follows:

  • Online Application: £53.50
  • Postal Application: £64

The specific documents you’ll need to provide can vary depending on whether you choose to apply by post or online.

Processing Time

Generally, it takes approximately 5 weeks to process a child’s first passport application. It’s advisable to plan ahead if you have upcoming travel arrangements.

Good Character Requirement

If your child is 10 years of age or older, the Home Office requires them to meet the “good character” requirement. This means they should not have any severe criminal convictions, whether in the UK or overseas. Children under the age of 10 are exempt from this requirement.


Common Challenges in Citizenship Applications for Children

Facing challenges in citizenship applications can occur, often resulting from complex immigration and nationality laws, or unforeseen complications within your case. At Primus Solicitors, we offer support through:

  1. Expert Team: Our experienced immigration and nationality experts understand the intricacies of citizenship applications.
  2. Immigration Visa Appeals: If your unhappy with the decision that Home Office deal on your citizenship case, our solicitors at primus can lodge an immigration appeal on your behalf
  3. Judicial Review Services: In complex cases, our Judicial Review services allow you to challenge decisions made by public authorities, ensuring procedural fairness, and protecting your rights.


The Importance of Accurate Application Submission

Ensuring the accuracy of your citizenship application is of paramount importance. Even minor errors or omissions can lead to significant delays or even refusals. Mistakes can trigger requests for additional documentation, causing processing delays, and potentially raising red flags that may result in outright denials. An accurate application not only reduces the risk of complications but also streamlines the process, potentially shortening the waiting time for a decision.

For applicant who wish to expedite their application process, you may be able to apply via a Super Priority Service (depending on availability), meaning that you will receive a decision on your application within 24 hours.

Citizenship Fees and Waivers

When applying for British citizenship, it’s essential to be aware of the associated fees to plan your application effectively. Fees can vary based on several factors, including the type of application, the age of the applicant, and the processing time.

Understanding the financial aspects of citizenship applications, including potential fee waivers, is essential. We provide detailed insights into the potential of a fee waiver on our British Citizenship Fee Waiver page.

In regard to the associated Home Office fees when applying for citizenship for a child born oversees, as of October 2023 they stand at £1,214. This excludes the likes of any priority services utilised as well as legal costs.

Naturalisation as a Route to British Citizenship

Naturalisation offers an alternative route to citizenship, especially for children who don’t qualify by descent. The differences and requirements are detailed in our British Citizenship Naturalisation guide.


Registering a Child Abroad vs in the UK as a British Citizen

The process of registering a child as a British citizen can vary depending on whether the child was born in the United Kingdom or abroad. Each scenario comes with its own set of requirements and considerations.

Registering a Child Born in the UK as a British Citizen

When a child is born in the UK, they are automatically eligible for British citizenship if at least one of their parents is a British citizen or settled in the UK. In this case:
  1. Automatic Eligibility: Children born in the UK to British citizen parents typically do not need to go through a registration process; they are British citizens by birth.
  2. Documentation: You will need to obtain a birth certificate for your child, which will serve as proof of their British citizenship.

Registering a Child Born Abroad as a British Citizen

The process for registering a child born abroad as a British citizen involves specific eligibility criteria and documentation requirements:
  1. Parental Nationality: At least one parent must be a British citizen or settled in the UK to pass on British citizenship to the child.
  2. Registration: You will need to complete the registration process for your child, which may include providing various documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates (if applicable), and proof of your own British citizenship or settled status.
  3. Residency Requirements: Depending on your circumstances and the date of your child’s birth, there may be specific residency requirements that need to be met.
  4. Fees: Be aware of the associated fees for registering your child as a British citizen born abroad, which can vary based on factors like the child’s age and processing time.
  5. Processing Time: Registration processing times may differ, so it’s advisable to apply well in advance if you have travel plans or other time-sensitive needs.

In both scenarios, the child’s British citizenship offers numerous advantages, including the right to live, work, and study in the UK, access to healthcare and education, and the ability to travel with a British passport.

Parental Visas and British Citizenship for Children

Parents on different visa types have varied pathways to secure their own stay in the UK. Our insights on Parents of a British Child 10-year Visa can be particularly helpful in these cases.

Replacing or Correcting British Citizenship Documents

Should you need to replace or correct citizenship documents, our guidance can be found on our Replace/Correct British Citizenship page, providing step-by-step assistance.



Navigating the path to British Citizenship for Children born abroad can be complex, but with the right guidance, it’s a journey that can be undertaken with confidence. At Primus Solicitors, we are committed to providing expert guidance and support.

Contact our Industry Expert Today!