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Registration as a British Citizen for Children

There are number of options available for children wishing to apply to register as a British citizen. Almost all application types detailed here require the applicant to be under the age of 18 at the date that their application is submitted for consideration. Some options require the applicant to meet specific conditions as defined by British nationality law (usually referred to as registration by ‘entitlement’), while others will be considered at the ‘discretion’ of the Home Secretary. Discretion applications also require the applicant to meet certain criteria, however, these requirements have been defined by the Home Secretary which allows for a degree of flexibility in decision making.


Application types are labelled by the section of the British Nationality Act 1981 (BNA 1981) which define the principal qualifying criteria. These are:


Section 1(3) applications (registration by entitlement)

For children born in the UK to parents who obtained indefinite leave to remain or settled status after the child’s birth. The only requirements for this type of registration is that the applicant was born in the UK and at least one parent has obtained ILR since the child’s birth.


Section 1(4) applications (registration by entitlement)

For children (or qualifying adults) who were born in the UK to parents who were neither British nor settled and who have spent the first 10 years of their life living in the UK. This type of application is particularly useful for children born to parents with no immigration status. It is often referred to as a ‘Form T’ application.


Section 1(4) applicants must demonstrate that:

- they were born in the UK;

- they were not a British citizen at birth as at the time of birth neither parent was a British citizen nor settled in the UK;

- they are aged 10 years or over on the date of the application;

- they have lived in the UK for the first 10 years of their life;

- they have not been outside of the UK for more than 90 days in each of the first 10 years of their life; and

- they are of good character.


Section 3(1) applications (registration by discretion)

Generally, for children born outside of the UK who need to apply at the discretion of the Home Secretary. There are no specific criteria for this type of application, however, the following factors may be considered in deciding upon a successful application:


- the child’s connection with the United Kingdom;

- the child’s place of birth;

- where the child’s future is likely to lie;

- the parents’ views;

- the parents’ nationality;

- the parents’ immigration status in the UK;

- whether the child is of good character (for children over the age of 10 criminal convictions may be an issue);

- the length of time the child has lived in the UK;

- the length of time the child’s parents have lived in the UK; and

- any compelling circumstances which may require British citizenship.


Children born outside of the UK who have subsequently gained indefinite leave and who wish to apply for citizenship at the same time as their parents would normally apply under this registration category.


Section 3(2) and 3(5) applications (registration by entitlement)

These two categories are for children born outside of the UK to parents who themselves were born outside of the UK and who are therefore unable to pass on their British citizenship automatically. Both categories require specific criteria to be met.


Section 3(2) applicants must demonstrate that:


- they were born outside the UK;

- they are under the age of 18;

- at least one of the child’s parents was a British citizen by descent (i.e. born outside of the UK) at the time of the child’s birth;

- the British citizen parent spent a continuous period of three years living in the UK prior to the child’s birth. During the three-year residence period, the child’s parent should not have had absences exceeding 270 days; and

- the child’s parent / parents must consent to the child being registered as a British citizen.


Section 3(5) applicants must demonstrate that:


- they were born outside the UK;

- they are under the age of 18;

- at least one of the child’s parents was a British citizen by descent at the time of the child’s birth;

- both the child and both parents should have lived in the UK for a continuous three-year period ending with the date that the application is submitted to the Home Office;

- the child and their parent / parents should have been physically present in the UK at the start of the three-year period;

- both the child and both parents must not have been absent from the UK for more than 270 days during the three-year residential period; and

- the child’s parent / parents must consent to the child being registered as a British citizen.


Both types of application are submitted on the basis of ‘entitlement’, however, the Home Office will not exercise discretion if the 270-day absence requirement has not been met.


It is important to note that a child registered under section 3(2) will be a British citizen by descent and will be unable to pass British citizenship on to any of their children born outside of the UK (they will also not be able to register children under either section 3(2) or 3(5) in the future).


A child successfully registered under section 3(5) will be a British citizen otherwise than by descent. This means that the child will be able to pass on their citizenship to any children they may have who are born outside of the UK.


Sections 4F to 4I applications (registration by entitlement)

Often referred to as a ‘UKF’ application, these types of application are for children (or qualifying adults) born before 1 July 2006 to unmarried British citizen or settled fathers.


Before 1 July 2006, people born out of wedlock could not automatically acquire citizenship through their father. The exception to this was if the parents subsequently married and ‘legitimated’ the child’s birth. These categories were introduced on 6 April 2015 and do not attract a Home Office application fee. Key to the success of this type of application is to clearly establish the paternity of the child. Children who were born to a British father and a non-British mother married to someone else on the date of the child’s birth will need to register at discretion under Section 3(1).


British passport

Please note a child born to parent who is British or has settled status at the time of the child's birth can apply for a passport to evidence it's nationality.

Benefit of becoming a British national for a child

British citizenship status allows a person to enter or remain without restriction indefinitely, to live, work, study and vote in the UK and may entitle them to state benefits receive treatment through the NHS and in most circumstances entitle them to be treated as 'home students' when applying for higher education courses. It also may enable them to work for the government related jobs such as the armed forces.

If you would like to discuss your child’s eligibility for British citizenship in more detail, please contact us on +44 (0)20 7038 3980, email us at or use our online enquiry form.

Alternatively click on the links below for frequently asked questions.

Applications are submitted using an online form. Most registration application utilise Form MN1 but, depending on the circumstances employ either Form T or Form UKF.

The forms must be submitted with the relevant fee. If submitting an application from within the UK, the supporting documentary evidence may be submitted online. For applicant’s living outside of the UK, original documents will need to be sent to the Home Office in Liverpool for processing. The applicant must also attend a biometric appointment.

The passports can be submitted online but the originals must be provided on request. Therefore, so long as the child has an immigration status, they are free to travel. Please note, an application for a registration as a British citizen is not a visa application and care should be taken to ensure the child has the correct status. RLegal immigration solicitors can of course advise on this.

The application must be supported by two referees, each of whom must know the child. One of the referees must be a professional and must have interacted with the child in a professional capacity (for example as a teacher, dentist, medical professional etc.). The referees must also be:


- a British citizen (for preference);

- aged 25 or over;

- not related to the child;

- not related to the other referee; and

- not your solicitor or agent.


Referees are not deemed acceptable if they have been convicted of an imprisonable offence during the previous 10 years.


The referees can provide their details through the online form but must sign a simple legal declaration to state that they know the child.


The Nationality Directorate may take up to 6 months to process applications, however this timescale can vary greatly depending upon staffing levels and the number of applications received.

Once an application for child registration has been submitted it is rare for the Home Office to provide an update. Care should be taken to ensure the application satisfies all the legal requirements when submitting an application to ensure there are no delays or complications.

Our immigration nationality lawyers have considerable experience of submitting such applications spanning four decades.

The Home Office charge a processing fee for most registration applications. This fee is presently £1214 per applicant.

Applications submitted under Sections 4F to 4I do not attract an application fee.

If a child turns 18 during the processing of their application, then they will need to pay an £80 fee to cover the cost of a mandatory citizenship ceremony.

Comprehensive legal advice.

Assistance with applicants living both within the UK and residing overseas.

Ensuring your child’s application meets the legal requirements for registration as a British citizen.

Completion and submission of all the relevant application forms.

Preparation and the submission of the required supporting evidence.

Assistance with the booking the biometric appointment.

Ongoing liaison with the authorities as and when required.

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