How are people inheriting citizenship without knowing?
It’s all got to do with the complexities of British nationality law. Citizens in certain ex-colonial territories, especially Commonwealth countries like Australia, gained all sorts of rights to British citizenship. Later, when these people had children, and those children had children, some of these rights were passed down to descendants, often without any of the parties being aware.
Let’s take a look at a few common examples:
- If your father was born in the UK, you will automatically have inherited British citizenship (as long as your parents were married at the time you were born).
- If your mother was born in the UK, and you were born in Australia after 1982, you will have been born a British citizen.
These two are pretty obvious, and most people in these situations are aware they may have some claim to British citizenship. However, there are other, more complicated routes.
- If you have a UK-born paternal grandfather and your father was born in a former British territory (so outside of the UK and Australia), you could already be British. If the claim comes down through your mother’s side of the family, you won’t automatically be a British citizen, but you might be able to apply for British citizenship.
- If your father was born in a former British territory, there are old residual forms of British nationality that still exist in the modern day that could have been passed down to you automatically. You don’t even need an ancestor born in the UK for this to have happened.
What complicates matters in this situation is that there were, at a point, hundreds of British territories of various classifications and descriptions. Accordingly, there are literally hundreds of different rules that may or may not apply to you depending on where you and your parents and/or grandparents were born.
If you have any family links to the UK and the former territories of the old colonial empire, you may want to explore your own rights. Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on UK+44 (0)20 7759 7581, SA+27 (0)21 657 2139 , Aus+61 (0)3 8651 4500.