The law governing British nationality is extremely complex and it is therefore always advisable to seek professional advice to determine whether or not you are a British citizen or are entitled to apply for registration as a British citizen.
People often confuse applying for a British passport with applying for British citizenship. It is only possible to obtain a British passport if you are already a British citizen. If you are not already a British citizen but qualify to apply for British citizenship you will need to submit a successful British citizenship application before you can apply for a British passport.
There are essentially three ways to become a British citizen:
- Automatically (example, by virtue of having been born in the UK before 1 January 1983 or by descent if born outside the UK to a British parent who acquired his/her British citizenship other than by descent)
- Registration (example, a child who is born in the UK after 1 January 1983 whose parent acquires indefinite leave to remain in the UK after the child’s birth)
- Naturalisation (example, someone who has spent 5 years in the UK on a work visa and 1 year holding indefinite leave to remain in the UK)
Someone who acquired British citizenship automatically does not need to apply for confirmation of their citizenship and can apply for a British passport at any time.
Someone who acquired British citizenship by registration or naturalisation must apply for confirmation of their British citizenship and will thereafter be entitled to apply for a British passport.