Types of British nationality

4. British overseas citizen

You became a British overseas citizen on 1 January 1983 if both of these applied:

  • you were a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies (CUKC) on 31 December 1982
  • you didn’t become either a British citizen or a British overseas territories citizen on 1 January 1983

Hong Kong

If you were a British overseas territories citizen only because of your connection with Hong Kong you lost that citizenship on 30 June 1997 when sovereignty returned to China.

However, you became a British overseas citizen if either:

  • you had no other nationality and would have become stateless
  • you were born on or after 1 July 1997 and would have been born stateless if one of your parents was a British national (overseas) or British overseas citizen when you were born

Rights as a British overseas citizen

You can:

  • hold a British passport
  • get consular assistance and protection from UK diplomatic posts

Unless you’re also a British citizen:

  • you’re still subject to immigration controls - you don’t have the automatic right to live or work in the UK
  • you aren’t considered a UK national by the European Union (EU)

Become a British overseas citizen

You can only apply to become a British overseas citizen in limited circumstances.

Stateless people

You may be able to register as a British overseas citizen if you’re stateless (not recognised by any country as having a nationality) and both of these apply:

  • you were born in the UK or an overseas territory
  • one of your parents is a British overseas citizen

You may also be able to register if you’re stateless and all of these apply:

  • you were born outside the UK and qualifying territories
  • one of your parents is a British overseas citizen
  • you’ve lived in the UK or an overseas territory for 3 years or more

You have to fill in different forms depending on whether you were:

Children

A child under 18 can be registered as a British overseas citizen in special circumstances.

British citizenship

You may be able to register as a British citizen if you’re a British overseas citizen and meet certain conditions.