I was born in 1946 in Canada. My mother was British & came to Canada after the war. Am I automatically a British citizen? Also, I have been living in Australia for the past 40 years & have dual Aussie & Canadian citizenship. Was wondering what my status would be. Thanks.

  • 1
    How exactly was your mother British? Was she born in the UK? Was she born abroad and was a citizen at birth through her parent? Was she naturalized in the UK?
    – user102008
    Aug 18, 2017 at 3:23

2 Answers 2


Before 1983, British citizenship* by descent could only be passed from the father, not the mother. Therefore, assuming your father was not British, you did not get British citizenship at birth (and you are not currently a British citizen).

However, you are currently eligible to register as a British citizen, if you would have gotten British citizenship* at birth had women been able to pass on citizenship the same way men did. Basically (ignoring some exceptions), your mother had to effectively have been a British citizen "otherwise than by descent" (i.e. she was not herself born outside the UK and got citizenship at birth through her parent; if she was born in the UK or naturalized in the UK that would be fine).

* Technically, the term "British citizen" did not exist before 1983. From 1949 to 1983, the people of the UK and British colonies held the status of "Citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies" (CUKC), but only those who had the status through a connection to the UK (as opposed to a colony) had right of abode in the UK and became "British citizens" in 1983, so you can think of CUKC with right of abode in the UK as roughly corresponding to "British citizen". Before 1949, the people of all Commonwealth countries were simply "British subjects" (which you were as you were born in Canada), but only those who had a connection to the UK or its colonies obtained CUKC status in 1949. In all these cases, the connection to the UK must be through the father and not the mother.


According to Check if you're a British citizen using the information you've given, you are not a British citizen at this time:

1 When were you born?
Before 1 January 1983

2 Were you born in the UK or a qualifying territory?

3 Were you a UK and Colonies citizen on 31 December 1982 with right of abode in the UK?

You're not a British citizen

However, you can likely Register as a British citizen:

You may be eligible if:

  • you were born before 1 January 1983 to a British mother
  • 1
    "3 Were you a UK and Colonies citizen on 31 December 1982 with right of abode in the UK? No" That's the key question, and you didn't explain how you decided it was "no".
    – user102008
    Aug 18, 2017 at 3:18
  • @user102008: The question page for that question describes the conditions, and (a) Canada was not a UK colony in 1946, and (b) the OP has not provided any information about his father. Aug 18, 2017 at 3:33
  • 3
    It's still kind of amusing that "Were you a UK and Colonies citizen on 31 December 1982 with right of abode in the UK?" is considered an easier question to answer than "Are you a British citizen today?". Just so long as it's not turtles all the way down. Aug 18, 2017 at 9:21
  • 1
    @user102008 under section 12 of the 1948 act, a British subject became a CUKC through birth or naturalization in the UK and colonies or by birth to a father who was born or naturalized in the UK and colonies (ignoring annexation). Mothers didn't count. CUKC under 12(4) (i.e., for those who didn't qualify under subsections 1 to 3) was unavailable to citizens of Canada unless they registered under subsection (6) before 1950.
    – phoog
    Dec 6, 2018 at 20:06

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