I was born in Ghana, West Africa to British parents and registered with the High Commission at birth. We now live in Australia and I have Australian citizenship as well as British and my kids are being refused British passports. The passport office in Liverpool says that I was granted British citizenship by descent from my Father even though he registered me at birth with the High Commission in Accra. I have found a website that states if I have a consular birth certificate, then I am British at birth. All very confusing. I just want my kids to get British passports as they are becoming old enough to study overseas and one wants to be in London. I do have a contact at the passport office in Liverpool now so fingers crossed, I may get some answers.

Are my kids eligible for British passports? If so, what can I do?

  • Where were your children born? Australia?
    – Dan Getz
    Mar 26, 2015 at 20:58
  • Yes, both in Australia.
    – Victoria
    Mar 26, 2015 at 23:18
  • Note that since your children probably have Australian (commonwealth) citizenship, they may be able to use the Ancestry visa to come to the UK - gov.uk/ancestry-visa/overview The costs and other requirements are comparatively reasonable. This would, however, not allow them to study here. Aug 25, 2015 at 2:36

1 Answer 1


What they say seems correct.

You are a "British citizen by descent", because you were automatically a British citizen at birth due to being born outside the UK to a parent who was a British citizen otherwise than by descent. It doesn't matter what they did or did not do after your birth; you are still a British citizen by descent. You cannot "upgrade" yourself to "otherwise than by descent".

Your children born abroad are not automatically British citizens at birth, because that can only happen if they have a parent who is a British citizen otherwise than by descent. I am guessing that their only British-citizen parent is you, who is by descent. In other words, automatic transmission of British citizenship at birth outside the UK only extends one generation.

Your children may be eligible to register to become British citizens after birth, while under 18, in one of the following cases:

  • Section 3(2): The parent who is a British citizen by descent (you) must have lived in the UK for any continuous period of 3 years before the child's birth, during which you were not absent from the UK for more than 270 days. This period of 3 years does not have to be recent; it could be from your childhood. If your children are registered under this section, they are considered "British citizens by descent".
  • Section 3(5): Both parents and the child have lived in the UK for the 3 years immediately before you make this application, during which you were not absent from the UK for more than 270 days. If your children are registered under this section, they are considered "British citizens by registration". But this would only be possible if you plan to move to the UK for a few years.
  • Section 3(1): At the Home Secretary's discretion. This is very unlikely unless the children have a special connection to the UK or something.

Really though, if you have not lived in the UK for 3 years in your life (to qualify under section 3(2)), then your children's connection to the UK is pretty distant and it is reasonable for them to not be British citizens. Even if they are not British citizens, I believe they can still go to the UK on the Ancestry Visa.

  • A possible exception would be if either of your parents were working for a UK governmental agency (including military) at the time of your birth.
    – mkennedy
    Mar 26, 2015 at 23:12
  • 1
    Thank you so much - you people are amazing...what a wealth of information and maybe now I have something I can use that may proceed my application. I am very grateful to you for the response. This stack exchange is a great tool.
    – Victoria
    Mar 27, 2015 at 0:08

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