I was born in the USA to a British mother and American father in 1986, but they were never married. According to gov.uk

You might be a British citizen

However, you might not be a British citizen if both the following apply:

  • you were born before 1 July 2006
  • your parents weren’t married when you were born (and aren’t married now)

Both of those apply to me, but I’ve been told it may depend on which parent was British.

I’m almost 29 now, and I would love to solidify my dual-citizenship and get a UK passport. Is this possible, and if so, what steps must I take?

(I’ll be in the EU later this year, so if I need to do anything in person, I will have that opportunity.)


1 Answer 1


Since you were born to a British mother, it didn't matter if you were legitimate or illegitimate for the purposes of being a child for citizenship. Legitimacy only mattered for children born to British fathers. See this guide.

From what you described, assuming your mother was a British citizen "otherwise than by descent" (i.e. British citizen by birth, by naturalization, etc.), you are a British citizen by descent, and you can apply for a British passport at any time.

(This is not related to your case, but I just wanted to add for people with similar questions that, even if you were born out of wedlock to a British father, according to that guide, you would still be considered legitimate if the country of father's domicile treated children born in and out of wedlock the same. And according to this document, the US is such a country.

Furthermore, even if you were born to a British father before 2006 and not legitimated or considered legitimate, and thus did not get British citizenship, a recent change to the law, the Section 65 of the Immigration Act 2014, allows you to register as a British citizen now if you would have gotten British citizen if your parents were married.)


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