Registering a child as a British citizen

Getting started

Anyone under 18 years old is a child. Anyone 18 years old or older is an adult. You cannot register an adult as a British citizen. Choose Becoming a British citizen below if the person you want to register is 18 years old or older.

Becoming a British citizen


Some children born in the UK are not automatically British citizens. This includes children of parents who

  • are European Economic Area nationals, and
  • have limited permission to be in the UK, and
  • came to UK and then over-stayed on their visa, and
  • are seeking asylum in the UK

But the Home Office must always consider the best interests of your child when it makes a decision. Get advice before you apply if you are not sure how to show that registering is in your child’s best interests.

You do not have a right of appeal against Home Office decision not to register your child as a British Citizen.


Different pathways to registering

There are 3 pathways for registering a child for British citizenship.

  1. Automatic: Home Office rules say a child is automatically a British citizen and they do not need to register
  2. Entitlement: Home Office rules say family history entitles a child to register as a British citizen
  3. Discretion: the Home Office can agree or refuse to register a child as a British citizen


Using this guide

  1. We use questions and answers to guide you through the different pathways.
  2. Choose ‘Key words and phrases’ to understand what some important words mean and keep the ‘Key’ page open in a separate window as you move through the guide.
  3. Immigration rules change a lot so get advice if you are not sure which pathway applies to you and your child.

Key words and phrases




Was the child you want to register born in the UK or in a British Overseas Territory?

British Overseas Territories used to be called British Dependant Territories.

Maps of the World – map of the 14 British overseas territories


Choose 1 of the 2 anwsers below

Answer 1 ‘Yes – my child was born in the UK or a British Overseas Territory’

Answer 2 ‘No – no my child was not born there’


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