I was born in the United States in 1980 to a British father and American mother. My father still lives in the US and has a green card. At the time of my birth, no attempt was made to get me a passport or dual citizenship. Am I still able to get a UK passport? If so, what is the procedure?

  • Did you already try the Gov.UK Check if you're a British citizen wizard? What did it say?
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 20:57
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    I did, and it asks if I have right of abode, which I'm not sure about. It says: "You can prove you have right of abode if you have a UK passport describing you as a British citizen or British subject with right of abode." Seems a bit circular
    – user30903
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 21:17
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    There's a page linked from that question on Right of Abode, which seems to have a lot more detail, did you try that and the PDFs it links to?
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 21:24
  • Wikipedia has some explanations that might shed some light on all this. I can't vouch for their correctness but it seems that if your father was a British citizen born in the UK and your parents were married at the time of your birth, you definitely qualify. If your father was a citizen by descent (i.e. he wasn't born in the UK) or your parents married later, it's more complex.
    – Gala
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 22:30
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    The whole “right of abode” thing is especially relevant for people whose parents were British subjects but not citizens (this distinction adds a whole layer of complexity to British nationality law compared to many other countries).
    – Gala
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 22:30

1 Answer 1


As you were born before 1983 and your father was a British Citizen, section 5 of the 1948 nationality act applies to you. Based on this act you are considered a British Citizen by descent, if your father is a British Citizen otherwise than by descent, for example he was actually born in the UK or became citizen by naturalization or registration.

If these apply, then you are already a British Citizen by descent, which means that while you are considered a citizen, you will not automatically pass this citizenship on to your children.

Note, that if your father was already a British Citizen by descent (e.g. he was not born in the UK, but got the citizenship through his parents), then probably you are not a British Citizen, and cannot apply for a UK passport.

If you are outside of the UK you need to apply online. If you are inside the UK (for example you entered the country with your US passport), then you can apply by post.

In either case you will need all of the following documents to prove that you are a citizen:

  • your full birth certificate showing your parents’ details
  • your father’s birth certificate or naturalisation or registration certificate
  • your parents’ marriage certificate

(you will also need to supply some other things, like two passport photographs and your current, non-UK passport as well)

If you do not have all of the documents necessary to complete the application then you have to write to the Home Office asking them to confirm that you are in fact a British Citizen (by descent). For this you should fill out the Confirmation of British nationality status form (also called Form NS). You have to sent the filled out form to this address:

Home Office
PO Box 306
Dept 1
L2 0QN
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    The OP certainly could pass his UK citizenship to his children… by living in the UK for three years.
    – Gala
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 22:32
  • @Gala: true, but passing the citizenship is also more complex, as the child won't be able to apply as a citizen after he is no longer a minor (for example if he tries to do the same as the OP)
    – SztupY
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 22:39
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    Yes, indeed, my point was merely that it's not absolutely impossible to pass your citizenship to your children merely because you are a citizen by descent.
    – Gala
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 23:02

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