British Nationality Act 1981

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1981 c. 61


British NationalityAct 1981

1981 CHAPTER 61

An Act to make fresh provision about citizenship and nationality, and to amend the Immigration Act 1971 as regards the right of abode in the United Kingdom.

[30th October 1981]

Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

I British Citizenship

Part I

British Citizenship

Acquisition after commencement

Acquisition after commencement

S-1 Acquisition by birth or adoption.

1 Acquisition by birth or adoption.

(1) A person born in the United Kingdom after commencement shall be a British citizen if at the time of the birth his father or mother is—

(a ) a British citizen; or

(b ) settled in the United Kingdom.

(2) A new-born infant who, after commencement, is found abandoned in the United Kingdom shall, unless the contrary is shown, be deemed for the purposes of subsection (1)—

(a ) to have been born in the United Kingdom after commencement; and

(b ) to have been born to a parent who at the time of the birth was a British citizen or settled in the United Kingdom.

(3) A person born in the United Kingdom after commencement who is not a British citizen by virtue of subsection (1) or (2) shall be entitled to be registered as a British citizen if, while he is a minor—

(a ) his father or mother becomes a British citizen or becomes settled in the United Kingdom; and

(b ) an application is made for his registration as a British citizen.

(4) A person born in the United Kingdom after commencement who is not a British citizen by virtue of subsection (1) or (2) shall be entitled, on an application for his registration as a British citizen made at any time after he has attained the age of ten years, to be registered as such a citizen if, as regards each of the first ten years of that person's life, the number of days on which he was absent from the United Kingdom in that year does not exceed 90.

(5) Where after commencement an order authorising the adoption of a minor who is not a British citizen is made by any court in the United Kingdom, he shall be a British citizen as from the date on which the order is made if the adopter or, in the case of a joint adoption, one of the adopters is a British citizen on that date.

(6) Where an order in consequence of which any person became a British citizen by virtue of subsection (5) ceases to have effect, whether on annulment or otherwise, the cesser shall not affect the status of that person as a British citizen.

(7) If in the special circumstances of any particular case the Secretary of State thinks fit, he may for the purposes of subsection (4) treat the person to whom the application relates as fulfilling the requirement specified in that subsection although, as regards any one or more of the first ten years of that person's life, the number of days on which he was absent from the United Kingdom in that year or each of the years in question exceeds 90.

(8) In this section and elsewhere in this Act ‘settled’ has the meaning given by section 50.

S-2 Acquisition by descent.

2 Acquisition by descent.

(1) A person born outside the United Kingdom after commencement shall be a British citizen if at the time of the birth his father or mother—

(a ) is a British citizen otherwise than by descent; or

(b ) is a British citizen and is serving outside the United Kingdom in service to which this paragraph applies, his or her recruitment for that service having taken place in the United Kingdom; or

(c ) is a British citizen and is serving outside the United Kingdom in service under a Community institution, his or her recruitment for that service having taken place in a country which at the time of the recruitment was a member of the Communities.

(2) Paragraph (b ) of subsection (1) applies to—

(a ) Crown service under the government of the United Kingdom; and

(b ) service of any description for the time being designated under subsection (3).

(3) For the purposes of this section the Secretary of State may by order made by statutory instrument designate any description of service which he considers to be closely associated with the activities outside the United Kingdom of Her Majesty's government in the United Kingdom.

(4) Any order made under subsection (3) shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.

S-3 Acquisition by registration: minors.

3 Acquisition by registration: minors.

(1) If while a person is a minor an application is made for his registration as a British citizen, the Secretary of State may, if he thinks fit, cause him to be registered as such a citizen.

(2) A person born outside the United Kingdom shall be entitled, on an application for his registration as a British citizen made within the period of twelve months from the date of the birth, to be registered as such a citizen if the requirements specified in subsection (3) or, in the case of a person born stateless, the requirements specified in paragraphs (a ) and (b ) of that subsection, are fulfilled in the case of either that person's father or his mother (‘the parent in question’).

(3) The requirements referred to in subsection (2) are—

(a ) that the parent in question was a British citizen by descent at the time of the birth; and

(b ) that the father or mother of the parent in question—

(i) was a British citizen otherwise than by descent at the time of the birth of the parent in question; or

(ii) became a British citizen otherwise than by descent at commencement, or would have become such a citizen otherwise than by descent at commencement but for his or her death; and

(c ) that, as regards some period of three years ending with a date not later than the date of the birth—

(i) the parent in question was in the United Kingdom at the beginning of that period; and

(ii) the number of days on which the parent in question was absent from the United Kingdom in that period does not exceed 270.

(4) If in the special circumstances of any particular case the Secretary of State thinks fit, he may treat subsection (2) as if the reference to twelve months were a reference to six years.

(5) A person born outside the United Kingdom shall be entitled, on an application for his registration as a British citizen made while he is a minor, to be registered as such a citizen if the following requirements are satisfied, namely—

(a ) that at the time of that person's birth his father or mother was a British citizen by descent; and

(b ) subject to subsection (6), that that person and his father and mother were in the United Kingdom at the beginning of the period of three years ending with the date of the application and that, in the case of each of them, the number of days on which the person in question was absent from the United Kingdom in that period does not exceed 270; and

(c ) subject to subsection (6), that the consent of his father and mother to the registration has been signified in the prescribed manner.

(6) In the case of an application under subsection (5) for the registration of a person as a British citizen—

(a ) if his father or mother died, or their marriage was terminated, on or before the date of the application, or his father and mother were legally separated on that date, the references to his father and mother in paragraph (b ) of that subsection shall be read either as references to his father or as references to his mother;

(b ) if his father or mother died on or before that date, the reference to his father and mother in paragraph (c ) of that subsection shall be read as a reference to either of them; and

(c ) if he was born illegitimate, all those references shall be read as references to his mother.

S-4 Acquisition by registration: British Dependent Territories citizens etc.

4 Acquisition by registration: British Dependent Territories citizens etc.

(1) This section applies to any person who is a British Dependent Territories citizen, a British Overseas citizen, a British subject under this Act or a British protected person.

(2) A person to whom this section applies shall be entitled, on an application for his registration as a British citizen, to be registered as such a citizen if the following...

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