You may be able to register as a British citizen if you don’t have any form of citizenship or nationality - that is, if you’re a ‘stateless person’.

How to apply depends on when and where you were born. In all cases you must be stateless and have always been stateless.

How would a person be born without any citizenship?

  • I came across a curious example a couple of years back for somebody wishing to get UK citizenship for their child. It was amazing digging through all of those countries' citizenship laws (US, UK, Oman, Hong Kong, Lebanon) to sort that out. Parents were British by descent, mother had renounced US ctizenship and also naturalized Hong Kong citizenship, father born in Lebanon but not Lebanse, child born in Oman. That perfect set of circumstance meant the child was stateless. Child was later eventually registered British under 3(2).
    – ouflak
    Sep 20, 2016 at 11:00

2 Answers 2


Statelessness is a kind of negative state (falling through the cracks as it were) so I am not sure a full list can be created but here are some (actual, not merely theoretical) cases:

  • Born to parents who are themselves stateless.
  • Born to an unmarried mother with a citizenship transmitted solely through males (a common problem, there are dozens of those).
  • Born to parents who cannot transmit their citizenship for another reason (e.g. British citizens by descent, under certain conditions, although that can usually be fixed, indeed that's what the form S2 referred on the page you found is about).

Of course, this would only apply if the birth in question happens in a country with strictly no jus soli and no fall-back clause. I don't know precisely how common this is elsewhere but in many European countries, even those that are comparatively restrictive about dual citizenship and jus soli, the law stipulates that someone born to unknown parents or with no other citizenship is a citizen (there are exception, though, like Austria).

The Americas generally have unconditional jus soli so the problem does not arise there at all.

  • 1
    If parents are known and birth is at sea, does it go by the laws of the ship's registration country?
    – WGroleau
    Sep 17, 2016 at 23:32
  • 1
    @WGrolean I don't know and I am not sure I see the link with the question. In most cases, the child would in any case have one or more citizenships by descent. Do you have a special case in mind?
    – Gala
    Sep 17, 2016 at 23:36
  • No special case. If the parents are from a state which is jus soli and NOT jus sanguinis, if any such exist, and not a signer of the convention on statelessness (there are only 67 of those), then it seems like the child would be stateless, although I had not thought of this situation when I first posed the question.
    – WGroleau
    Sep 18, 2016 at 0:12
  • @WGroleau Yes, possibly, but that's two very big IFs (parents from a country that knows no transmission of citizenship by descent and being born on a ship). Whatever causes the lack of transmission by descent, it would also create a problem for the (much more common) births in a country with no jus soli. And the cases I mentioned are real and documented, there is no need for any country with strictly no transmission of citizenship for them to happen (the other “theoretical” if).
    – Gala
    Sep 18, 2016 at 0:50
  • I checked this answer because it covers most situations. But also, if you are born on a ship flagged to a country with jus soli, you may have their citizenship. If you don't have citizenship under one of the conditions mentioned so far, but you are born on the soil for ship of a country that signed the convention on statelessness, then you get their citizenship. So if we list all the countries that DON'T meet any of these conditions, we might have a small list of circumstances for statelessness. Not exactly an answer, but my curiosity is appeased. :-)
    – WGroleau
    Sep 18, 2016 at 3:15

An individual is born in a country that does not grant citizenship by virtue of being born there (jus solis) to parents whose birth country/countries don't grant/recognize birthright citizenship.

  • Which country or countries do not grant birthright citizenship at all, in general?
    – Gala
    Sep 17, 2016 at 23:24
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jus_soli Countries with unrestricted jus solis are those in the Americas: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tanzania, , Trinidad and Tobago, Tufalu, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela
    – Giorgio
    Sep 18, 2016 at 0:21
  • That's not what this list is about. Countries are currently much more restrictive with jus soli than with jus sanguinis so what's notable is the possibility for children born in the country to non-citizens to get citizenship immediately and unconditionally. That's what set those countries apart. Among those, many (all?) also grant citizenship by descent in at least some cases, like other, non-jus soli countries.
    – Gala
    Sep 18, 2016 at 0:32
  • @Gala true, but far shorter to list those that do than those with restricted jus solis, those with conditions, and the vast number of countries that don't, right?
    – Giorgio
    Sep 18, 2016 at 0:38
  • OK but what's your point? It rules out all births in those countries but that still explains nothing, does not answer my earlier question and does not establish either that there is any country whose citizens can never ever transmit their citizenship to their children born abroad (isn't that what you mean by “birthright citizenship”?) or that the situation you describe in your answer actually exists.
    – Gala
    Sep 18, 2016 at 0:46

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