British nationality is a complicated system that has been separated into various categories. It is quite possible that you were born in the UK, have both parents who have never even left the UK, and yet, you may not be eligible for a British passport under certain circumstances.

On the other hand, someone who was not born in the country can be eligible for a British passport over time, provided they meet the requirements set by the Government. Go through the following to understand where it is that you exactly stand on the British nationality scale and whether or not you qualify for a British passport.

The British Citizen

Right at top of the list are British citizens but not everyone who was born in the UK automatically becomes one. However, if the following applies, he/she is a natural British citizen, but may need to apply under certain circumstances.

  • Individual’s parents were married when he/she was born in the UK, before Jan 1, 1983
  • One of the individual’s married parents was/is a British citizen during the birthdate, after Jan 1, 1983
  • An individual has/had one parent who was/is a British citizen, after July 1, 2006
  • The individual was born outside the UK, to a parent who was/is a British citizen (other requirements might be applicable)

One can still apply for and become a British citizen eventually, even if they were not so originally. While a British nationality doesn’t automatically qualify you for citizenship, it’s a basic requirement for the application.

Alternately, one can become a British citizen through naturalization, which is when someone born outside the country, has British nationality and settles down in the UK permanently.

If you are lucky enough to have British citizenship though, immigration laws won’t apply to you anymore. You will be able to work, live, settle down, marry and, of course, apply for a British passport.

British Overseas Territories Citizen (British Dependent Territories Citizenship)

Born Before January 1, 1983

As long as an individual was born in any of the British colonies before Jan 1, 1983, they qualify naturally for British Overseas Territories Citizenship.

If they were already a CUKC (Citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies), they naturally are still a British Overseas Territories Citizen.

In some cases, an individual might qualify for British Overseas Territories Citizenship if they have or had married parents in one of the British Overseas Territories.

Any woman married to a CUKC or a British Overseas Territories citizen naturally became one herself during that time.

Born On or After January 1, 1983

Anyone born in British overseas territory or had at least one parent with a British Overseas Territories citizenship, irrespective of his/her place of birth, is automatically qualified for British overseas citizenship. Legal adoption by a British overseas citizen will also qualify an individual for the overseas territories citizenship.

Automatic British Citizenship

If any of the above applies and you are an overseas territories citizen from Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, British Antarctic Territory, Turks and Caicos Islands, Cayman Islands, British Indian Ocean Territory, Bermuda, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Falkland Islands, Saint Helena, Pitcairn Islands,  Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha, Gibraltar or Montserrat, you can apply for and immediately get your British citizenship, since you became one naturally, starting 21 May 2002.

Unfortunately, if you do not belong to any of the British overseas territories mentioned above, you will still be controlled by the UK immigration laws, won’t have the natural right to work or live in the UK and you won’t be recognized by the European Union as a British national.

Fortunately, such overseas territories citizens will still qualify for getting a British passport, as well as protection and consultation from UK embassies.

British Overseas Citizen

Provided the individual was a citizen of the CUKC on 31 December 1982 but did not become a British Overseas Territories citizen or even a British citizen on January 1, 1983, he/she automatically became a British overseas citizen.

All citizens of Hong Kong lost their British overseas citizenship when it became a Chinese territory on June 30th, 1997. Only exceptions would be both children born on July 1st, 1997 and adults who did not have Chinese citizenship or citizenship from any other country. As it would leave them stateless, they are still a British overseas citizen.

The rights and privileges of the British overseas citizen are limited to protection and consultations from the embassy, as well as the right to hold a British passport. The British overseas citizen is not a British national and they are controlled by immigration laws that prevent them from working and living in the UK naturally.

British Overseas National

The British overseas national and the British overseas citizen in Hong Kong differ in only the fact that the former was able to secure a British overseas national status before 1 July 1997.

As far as privileges and restrictions are concerned, they are the same for both; help from the embassy, the right to hold a British passport, subject to UK immigration laws, etc.

There is just one major difference though. British overseas nationals can apply for British citizenships, provided they can meet the criterions.

The British Subject

The term British subject was applicable to a wide range of individuals up until the late 1940s, but post-January 1st, 1983, only the following people can be called British subjects:

  • Individuals who did not become a CUKC, citizen of a Commonwealth country, Pakistan or Republic of Ireland, on or after December 31st, 1948
  • Individuals from the Republic of Ireland, who requested to remain a British subject
  • Any woman married to a British subject also became one, post-January 1st, 1983

The rights and privileges are limited for a British subject, but they can hold a British passport and consult the embassy for help. However, on very rare occasions, certain British subjects might be allowed to live and work in the UK, without having to face the full brunt of the immigration laws.

British Protected Person

British protected person status grants you the right to hold a British passport, seek help from the embassy and be eligible for British citizenship under rare circumstances.

To be one or to apply for the status, consider the following:

  • Natural British protected person status for Brunei citizens and nationals from Jan 1, 1983, was automatic
  • The individual is and always was without a country
  • The individual was born in the UK or a British overseas territory
  • One of the parents of the individual was a British protected person

Passport Qualifications

As you can see, irrespective of your status in the British nationality and citizenship system, you can hold a British passport and its many facilities as long as any of the above apply to you.

In case you need an urgent passport renewal or issuing of a new British passport because you have managed to lose the old one or damage it somehow, it’s actually a very easy and fast process, thanks to the fast-track passport delivery system put into place by the passport office. They have a range of services across the nation, this includes a London Passport Office, Durham Passport Office and even a Peterborough Passport Office. This means that it will be easy enough for you to access their services.

If you need to visit the offices you can register for an appointment right now, visit the passports office website and make an appointment. With the help of their fast-track passport appointment system, it is possible for previous British passport holders to get an urgent passport renewal or reissuing done in just one working day.

If you think this is complicated, consider the fact that we have not even touched everything and kept it brief. Come Brexit, things might get even more complicated though!

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay