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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Eligibility for a British passport through your mother, partner or where you live

To be eligible for a British passport, you must have British nationality. This is a matter of law and can be complex in some situations. If you are unsure, check the facts here before you apply.

If you have a British mother

You may have heard about legal changes giving British nationality to people born overseas before February 1961 whose mothers were born in the UK.

If this change affects you, you will need to register with the UK Border Agency before you can become eligible for a passport. You can find detailed information by following the link below to the UK Border Agency.

At present, only children born on or after 1 January 2024 can automatically be British solely because of their mother's birth in the UK.

If you think you're eligible through marriage or civil partnership

Married women

Women who are not British and who married a British man after 1 January 2024 do not automatically gain British citizenship because of their marriage. This applies whether the man was a UK citizen before 1 January 2024 or a British citizen after 31 December 1982.

If you married a British man before 1949 you will have gained his citizenship automatically.

People in a civil partnership

Your nationality will not be changed under British law because you have entered a civil partnership with a UK citizen.

Eligibility through living in the UK

Foreign nationals or Commonwealth citizens do not automatically gain citizenship simply because they live in the UK.

Having ‘indefinite leave to remain’ in the UK, or the ‘right of re-admission’, only refers to your immigration status. It does not entitle you to British nationality or to British passport facilities.

The Identity and Passport Service (IPS) cannot help you to apply for British citizenship. You must do this through the Home Office. If you have any questions, you can contact them using the following address:

General Enquiries Section
Home Office Nationality Group
PO Box 306
L69 2UF

You can also phone them on 0845 010 5200 between 8.30 am and 6.00 pm Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays. This number is extremely busy and you may have to wait.

To enquire about your immigration status, you should contact:

UK Border Agency
Block C
Whitgift Centre
Surrey CR9 1AT

Telephone: 0870 606 7766

You can find more information about how to gain British citizenship on the UK Border Agency website.

What to do if you're still unsure

If you think your nationality makes you eligible to apply for a British passport, see ‘Nationality groups who are eligible for a British passport'.

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