We are the UK's leading immigration specialists
OISC Accredited UK immigration lawyers
We've had over 5000 applications approved
We are now open 7 days a week from 7.30 am to 10 pm.
4.7 rating 423 reviews

British Citizenship by Birth for South Africans

If you were born in the United Kingdom, you might be eligible for British citizenship by birth, even if you are a South African citizen and don’t currently live in the UK.

The rules around British citizenship by birth depend on when you were born and, possibly, the circumstances of your parents. There are many different routes to British citizenship by birth, which will be explained on this page.

Call us on 0333 305 3612 for immediate help & assistance with your situation. We’re here to help you in person, via the phone or online.

Request a call back from our immigration experts

British Citizenship by Birth for South Africans

If you were born in the United Kingdom, you could be eligible for British citizenship by birth.

British citizenship by birth is a complex route towards British citizenship. A South African who was born in the UK is not automatically eligible for British citizenship, as you might expect. Instead, it is linked to when the person was born and the circumstances of their parent/s.

You will automatically acquire nationality if you were born in the UK and at least one of your parents was a British citizen or a person with Indefinite Leave to Remain, or was a member of the UK Armed Forces at the time of your birth, regardless of when you were born.

It is possible for a child who was born in the UK to South African parents to receive British citizenship as soon as one of the child’s parents receives Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK.

Also, a person can be registered as a British citizen if they were born in the UK on or after 1st January 1983 and lived in the UK for the first ten years of their life, regardless of the immigration status of their parents.

EXCELLENT
Immigration Advice Service 4.7 rating 423 reviews
Reviews.io Logo

What are the Rules Around Automatic Acquisition of British Citizenship by Birth?

The rules around the automatic acquisition of British citizenship by birth depends on when the person in question was born, and the immigration status of that person’s parent/s.

Born Before January 1st 1983

The easiest route to British citizenship by birth is for those who were born before 1983. You will automatically be a British citizen if you were born before January 1st 1983, unless your father was a diplomat working for a non-UK country, or if you were born in the Channel Islands during the Second World War.

Born on or After January 1st 1983

It is harder to acquire British citizenship by birth if you were born after 1982. If you were born in the UK on or after January 1st 1983 and one of your parents was a British citizen or person with settled status (usually Indefinite Leave to Remain) in the UK, or was a member of the UK Armed Forces at the time of your birth, you will be eligible for UK nationality.

You could also acquire British citizenship if you were adopted by a British national in a UK court.

Can I Register my Child for British Citizenship by Birth?

Yes, it is possible to register your child for British citizenship by birth, provided certain conditions are met.

If they were born in the UK on or after 1st January 1983, they could be eligible for registration if:

  • They lived in the UK for the first ten years of your life and did not spend more than 90 days outside of the UK in a 12-month period during this time
  • They are under 18 and one of their parents has received Indefinite Leave to Remain since your birth

If at least one of their parents was a British citizen or had settled status in the UK at the time of your birth, they will automatically be eligible for UK nationality. Therefore, there is no need to register their birth in these circumstances.

There are certain other rules and conditions to be aware of if you wish to register your child for British citizenship through this route, which are explained in further detail below.

If you would like more information, we are here to help you. Call us now on 0333 305 3612 to speak with one of our friendly team.

Further British Citizenship by Birth Rules

There are certain rules to be aware of if you wish to apply for British citizenship by birth on the basis of being born in the UK and living in the country until you were 10 years old.

If you were born after 31st December 1982 and before 1st July 2006, you will automatically become a British citizen if either:

  • Your mother had settled status in the UK or was a British citizen at the time of your birth
  • Your father was a person with settled status in the UK or was a British citizen at the time of your birth and was married to your mother. (If your father was not married to your mother, you will need to register for British citizenship)

If you were born after July 1st 2006, you will automatically become a British citizen if your mother or father was a British citizen at the time of your birth and your British parent could pass their citizenship on to you.

Do Children of UK Nationals who were Born Abroad Qualify?

According to the 1981 British Nationality Act, an individual who was born outside of the UK could be eligible for British citizenship if their mother or father was a British national at the time of the child’s birth.

Children who are under the age of 18 can acquire British citizenship if:

  • Both their parents have lived in the UK for at least three years on the date the application was submitted
  • Both parent signs and consent to the application

There is a slight difference based on the ancestry of the child’s mother and father. If both parents were born in the UK, the child will automatically acquire British citizenship. However, if the mother and father are British nationals but were born elsewhere, the children will need to be registered for British nationality.

To find out more about British citizenship by birth, please do not hesitate to get in touch Contact Us

Fill out the form

What is the Application Form for British Citizenship by Birth?

It is important to note that the standard British citizenship application, Form AN, is not the one to complete if you are applying for British citizenship through one of the British citizenship by birth routes.

The specific form which you will need to complete depends on your particular circumstances.

The application form which you will need to submit to register British citizenship for a child under 18 is form MN1. This applies both to biological children and adopted children.

Alternatively, if a person was born in the UK and lived in the UK for the first ten years of their life, Form T will need to be completed.

If you are over 18 and wish to register as a British citizen you will need to complete form UKM rather than MN1.

You will need to provide information about your birth, nationality, parentage and criminal/immigration record in the application form.

You will need to provide the details of two referees in the application. This is a key requirement and one of the most significant elements of the application process.

Both referees must be of professional standing and must not be related to the applicant. The referees must confirm that they know the applicant personally and that they believe the applicant to be of good character. The referees will need to state why the applicant should be granted with citizenship.

How Do I Apply for a British Passport?

As a British citizen, you (or your child) will be eligible to apply for a British passport. You will need to complete either an online or paper application. The current fee is £75.50 for an online application and £85 for a paper application.

The specific documents which you will need to provide depends on your personal circumstances. Some of the information and documents which you may need to provide includes:

  • Full birth certificate
  • Current passport
  • Evidence of your parent’s immigration status in the UK at the time of your birth
  • Full UK birth certificate of mother or father, or a British passport belonging to one of your parents that was valid when you were born, or a British passport number for one of your parents

The documents which you provide must be in their original form. Photocopies will not be accepted unless there are exceptional reasons which mean that you cannot source the originals.

If any of your documents are not in English or Welsh, they must be translated by an accredited translator. You will need to provide both the original document and the translated copies.

As part of the application process, you might be asked to attend an interview. The interview will last approximately 30 minutes and it consists of the interviewer asking you questions to certify that you are who you say you are.

Does my Child Need to Pass the Good Character Requirement?

To be accepted as a British citizen, the applicant must pass the ‘good character’ requirement. Essentially, good character refers to whether or not a prospective British citizen will be a positive and upstanding member of society and will respect the laws of the UK.

According to British nationality law, all British citizen applicants over the age of 10 need to satisfy the good character requirement.

To satisfy this requirement, the child in question must:

  • Have always honoured and followed the law and not been involved in, or convicted of, any crimes
  • Not have contravened any immigration laws either in the UK such as overstaying any previous visa or status

When the UK Home Office is assessing whether or not a child is of good character, they will take into account offences committed in the UK and overseas to come to a decision.

It is important to note that the child’s age and personal circumstances will be taken into consideration as well to help UK immigration officials to come to a decision.

What is the Law Regarding Surrogacy and British Nationality?

The rules surrounding surrogacy and British nationality are complex. Each case is treated entirely differently and the specific route to British citizenship could differ depending on the case.

Children born through surrogacy need to be registered for UK nationality to be eligible for a British passport.

As with other children, whether or not the child is eligible for UK nationality depends on the nationality of their legal parents.

For the purposes of nationality, the following applies:

  • The surrogate mother is always the mother
  • In a situation where the surrogate mother is married, the child’s father is always the mother’s husband
  • If the surrogate mother is not married, proof of paternity regulations may apply

The most fundamental point is that a child born in the UK to a British surrogate mother will automatically acquire British citizenship.

If a child is born in the UK to a surrogate mother who is not a British citizen but is married to a British citizen, the child will be eligible for British citizenship. In this situation, the surrogate mother’s husband will be the child’s legal father.

Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers to learn how to apply for British citizenship by birth. Contact us

Fill out the form

Will I Need to Attend a British Citizenship Ceremony?

Those under the age of 18 are not required to attend a British citizenship ceremony. However, if someone under 18 wishes to attend a citizenship ceremony, they may.

In contrast, those over 18 must attend a British citizenship ceremony as part of the registration process.

The purpose of the ceremony is to receive formal recognition that the person is a British citizen and can enjoy the full benefits of British citizenship. During the ceremony, they will need to take an Oath of Allegiance and pledge loyalty to the United Kingdom.

After the ceremony, the person will receive a British nationality certificate and information on their new status and rights as a British citizen.

You might be able to partake in the citizenship ceremony in South Africa. You can get in contact with the UK embassy to discuss your options.

Can you Acquire British Citizenship by Adoption?

According to the Adoption and Children Act 2002, any child that is adopted by order of a court in the UK will automatically become a British citizen. This is provided that at least one of the adoptive parents was a British national when the person in question was adopted.

Also, an adopted child will be eligible for a British passport if at least one adopted parent was a British citizen and was habitually resident in the UK at the time the adoption was made.

Can I Be a Dual Citizen of the UK and South Africa?

As a South African citizen, you will be able to hold both South African and British citizenship, which will make you a dual citizen. This applies to those both those under 18-years-old and to adults.

UK law recognises the right to hold dual (or multiple) citizenship. This means that you will not need to renounce your South African citizenship to become a British citizen.

What is the Fee for the British Citizenship by Birth Application?

The current cost to register a child for British citizenship by birth is £1,012 for those under 18 and £1,206 for those over 18. This fee does not include the £80 citizenship ceremony fee, or the cost of the translation of any documents.

In most cases, the person will also need to pay £19.20 to have their biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken.

You will be asked to make an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) point to provide your biometric information when you submit your application.

When will my Application be Processed?

There is no definitive timeframe for when your application will be processed. Each case is entirely different, requiring a unique approach.

It is worth noting that if you do not provide adequate information, UK Home Office officials will request more information which will delay the processing of the application.

The Home Office state that it usually takes at least six months for a decision to be reached on British citizenship by birth applications.

Get in touch with our immigration experts to learn more about the requirements for British citizenship by birth Learn more

Fill out the form

Advice Package icon

Advice Package

Comprehensive immigration advice tailored to your circumstances and goals.

Application Package icon

Application Package

Designed to make your visa application as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Fast Track Package icon

Fast Track Package

Premium application service that ensures your visa application is submitted to meet your deadline.

Appeal Package icon

Appeal Package

Ensure you have the greatest chance of a successful appeal. We will represent you in any case.

Advice Package image

The Advice Package

With our untimed Advice Session, our professional immigration lawyers will review your case and provide you with comprehensive advice, completely tailored to your needs and your situation.

Fill out the form

Request the Advice Package
Application Package image

The Application Package

With our Application Package, your dedicated caseworker will advise you on your application process and eligibility. Your legal advisor will then complete and submit your forms to the Home Office on your behalf.

Fill out the form

Request the Application Package
Fast Track Package image

The Fast Track Package

Our Fast-Track Application Package is a premium service for those who need to submit their application in time with their deadlines. Your case will become a top priority for our lawyers and you will benefit from our highest-quality services.

Fill out the form

Request the Fast Track Package
Appeal Package image

The Appeal Package

By choosing our Appeal Package, you can rely on our lawyers’ legal knowledge and experience to ensure you have the highest chance of a successful appeal. We will also fully represent you in any hearings/tribunals.

Fill out the form

Request the Appeal Package

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, it is certainly possible for adults to apply for British citizenship by birth. Those born in the UK after 1st January 1983 will be eligible for UK nationality if they have lived in the UK until the age of 10 and have not spent more than 90 days outside of the UK in a 12-month period during those ten years.

One of the person’s parents must have been a British citizen, a person with settled status or a member of the British Armed Forces at the time of the person’s birth.

Those born before 1st January 1983 will automatically become a British citizen by birth if they were born in the UK before 1983, unless their father was a diplomat working for a non-UK country, or they were born in the Channel Islands during World War 2.

If none of this applies to the person in question, they will need to go down the standard route of British citizenship by naturalisation to become a British citizen. This means that they will need to lawfully live in the UK for a certain period of time with a valid long-term visa/immigration permission.

In most cases, a South African will be able to apply for British citizenship after they have spent six years living in the UK (including one year under Indefinite Leave to Remain status).

This all depends on your (or your child’s) particular circumstances.

The application form which you will need to submit to register British citizenship for a child under 18 is form MN1. This applies both to biological children and adopted children.

If you are over 18 and wish to register your British citizenship, you will need to submit Form UKM.

If the application is on the basis of birth in the UK and residency in the UK for the first ten years of the person’s life, application Form T is the one to complete.

This is a particularly complex are of UK immigration law, and we highly recommend that you hire an experienced immigration law firm to assist you with your application.

We can help you with the full application process for British citizenship by birth with our application package. We will work with you throughout the application process and we will ensure that your application is completed to the highest standard.

This includes assistance with your crucial portfolio of evidence, which is used to demonstrate your eligibility for this British citizenship route. We will also complete the relevant application form, ensuring it meets all necessary administrative standards.

To find out more about how we can help you become a British citizen (or dual citizen), please do not hesitate to get in touch on 0333 305 3612.