Types of British nationality

2. British citizenship

You can live and work in the UK free of any immigration controls if you’re a British citizen.

You might be able to apply to:

You might already be a British citizen based on where and when you were born, or your parents’ circumstances. Check if you’re a British citizen if you’re not sure.

If you were born in the UK or a British colony before 1 January 1983

You became a British citizen on 1 January 1983 if both of the following apply:

  • you were a citizen of the UK and Colonies (CUKC) on 31 December 1982
  • you had the ‘right of abode’ in the UK

This includes people who were born in a British colony and had the ‘right of abode’ in the UK.

It also includes people who:

  • were born in the UK
  • have been naturalised in the UK
  • had registered as a citizen of the UK and Colonies (CUKC)
  • could prove legitimate descent from a father to whom one of these applies

‘Right of abode’ means you:

  • are entirely free from UK Immigration Control and don’t need permission from an Immigration Officer to enter the UK
  • can live and work in the UK without restriction

If you were born in the UK on or after 1 January 1983

You don’t automatically get British citizenship if you were born in the UK.

If you were born in the UK on or after 1 January 1983, you’ll be a British citizen if your mother or father was either:

  • a British citizen when you were born
  • ‘settled’ in the UK when you were born

‘Settled’ means you can stay in the UK without any time restrictions. This includes people who have one of the following:

In most cases you’ll be a British citizen if your mother or father was born in the UK or naturalised there at the time of your birth.

If you were born before July 2006, your father’s British nationality will normally only pass to you if he was married to your mother at the time of your birth.

If your circumstances are more complicated, you can get more information about British citizenship.

Born outside the UK

You might have British citizenship based on where and when you were born, or your parents’ circumstances - check if you’re a British citizen if you’re not sure.

If you’re a foreign national or Commonwealth citizen, you don’t automatically gain citizenship just because you live in the UK. Check if you can apply to become a British citizen by naturalisation or by registering.

If you’re stateless

If you’re not recognised as a citizen of any country, you’ll be a British citizen if both of the following apply:

  • one of your parents is a British citizen
  • you were born in the UK or an overseas territory on or after 1 January 1983

If these don’t apply then you may be able to register as a British citizen.