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Dual Nationality

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 15 Oct 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Dual Nationality

Under UK law a foreign national who acquires British citizenship does not have to renounce their original nationality and may, therefore, hold dual nationality. However, some countries do not recognise dual nationality and may require their citizens to give up their nationality if they acquire British citizenship or may simply fail to recognise that British nationality has been acquired.

Anyone who is considering having dual nationality should check what the rules are in their own country before taking steps to acquire British nationality. Amongst the countries which currently do not allow citizens to hold dual nationality are India, and many Middle Eastern and African states.

British Citizens and British Subjects Acquiring a Second Nationality

British citizens who acquire the nationality of another country are not required to give up their British citizenship when they acquire the nationality of a second country. However, some countries may require that person to give up their British nationality before they can become citizens of another country.

The situation is different for British subjects and British protected persons. They will lose their status if they become nationals of another country. However, British subjects who have that status due to a connection with the Republic of Ireland will not necessarily lose their status if they acquire another nationality.

Dual Nationals Abroad and British Consular Services

Generally speaking British citizens are entitled to receive British consular assistance if they have difficulties while they are abroad. Consular assistance may be needed for a number of reasons. British citizens could need help settling into a new country of residence, become sick, have an accident, be the victim of a crime or they may commit or be accused of a crime themselves. In these circumstances the British Embassy or Consulate may take the appropriate action to ensure the wellbeing of the British citizen.

Under international law a person with dual nationality will not be entitled to British consulate assistance when abroad if they are in the country of their original nationality.

People travelling to the country of their original nationality who lost that nationality when they became a British citizen are technically entitled to British consular assistance in that country. They may apply to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for a letter confirming that they will be given consular assistance in the country of their original nationality. In order to obtain such a letter they will have to send to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office formal written confirmation that they lost their nationality, the documents under which they acquired British citizenship and their British passport.

Renouncing British Citizenship

British citizens, British subjects, British Nationals (Overseas) or British protected persons who wish to renounce their British nationality or status may do so. In order to renounce British nationality citizens must be able to show that they either have a second nationality or that they will get a second nationality upon renouncing their British citizenship. In addition they must be either 18 years or age, or under 18 but married, and of “sound mind”. Citizens who are not “of sound mind” or lack the mental capacity to make important decisions about their welfare may still be able to renounce their British citizenship if it can be shown that it is in their best interests to do so.

To renounce British nationality a declaration of renunciation must be completed using form RN1 for British citizens. British nationality will be deemed renounced on the date on which the declaration of renunciation is registered. If the person renouncing their British citizenship does not in fact acquire a new nationality within six months of the declaration the renunciation has no effect and they will retain their British nationality.

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[Add a Comment]
@potchie if you can prove your residency in the UK for at least 5 years before the child was born as an EU citizen working/studying/self employed with health insurance then you can apply for a British passport for her using govuk website.
TJ. - 15-Oct-17 @ 3:04 PM
@Jo your child is not eligible for British nationality based on your refugee status.
TJ. - 15-Oct-17 @ 2:58 PM
Hi there My daughter was born in U.K. She have canadian passport, I got U.K. Refugee settlements after she was born can I apply to my daughter to dual citizenship in U.K.?
Jo - 11-Oct-17 @ 8:49 AM
Hi, I've been in the UK since 2009. My youngest was born in 2016. I hold a dual citizenship, South African and Portuguese. Daughter is registered by birth with British and South African. She's got her South African passport, can we still apply for her British passport. Which forms do we use? Thanks
Potchie - 7-Oct-17 @ 9:56 PM
Hi, I'm British and married to a Cambodian. We've just had a baby in Cambodia and was wondering if applying for a UK passport for my baby daughter should be ok? My wife is applying for a UK settlement visa very soon but I don't want to wait until it's been accepted ideally as that would mean even more time away from them. I'd greatly appreciate any advice. Thanks, Alex.
Alex - 25-Aug-17 @ 9:42 AM
Alex - Your Question:
HiI am applying for dual citizenship in South Africa (I already have British), I am being asked to provide "a letter of acceptance of dual citizenship from country of citizenship (or origin)". Have you ever heard of this and where I might find something along these lines?Many thanks

Our Response:
Many countries don’t accept dual citizenship, please see link here.
AboutImmigration - 24-Aug-17 @ 12:16 PM
Hi I am applying for dual citizenship in South Africa (I already have British), I am being asked to provide "a letter of acceptance of dual citizenship from country of citizenship (or origin)".. Have you ever heard of this and where I might find something along these lines? Many thanks
Alex - 23-Aug-17 @ 2:38 PM
I am a British Citizen from birth and my fiancé is French. He has been living and working in the U.K. Since 2009. We are looking to get married this year and go on a honeymoon but his passport will expire before we go! How do we renew his passport here? Either before or after the wedding? Thank you.
Littlemissmoo - 19-Aug-17 @ 8:06 PM
conny - Your Question:
Hi,I am a French national born in the UK in 1969. I am currently living in the UK> I understand that at the time of my birth, being born in the UK automaticly gave the British citizenship. However, I have never claimed it. What is the procedure?

Our Response:
You can see more via the gov.uk link here which should answer your question.
AboutImmigration - 10-Aug-17 @ 10:17 AM
Hi, I am a French national born in the UK in 1969. I am currently living in the UK> I understand that at the time of my birth, being born in the UK automaticly gave the British citizenship. However, I have never claimed it. What is the procedure?
conny - 8-Aug-17 @ 4:34 PM
Hi, I have renounced my first citizenship after receiving my British passport. In the letter I received it's been advised to contact Commonwealth office and inform them that I renlunced my first citizenship. However when I called them they didn't have an idea about this kinds of procedures ans couldn't advise me what steps I should take next. Can anyone help me pls?
Gloria - 31-Jul-17 @ 8:35 PM
Hi I was born and raised in the UK and I'm a UK citizen. I have an ex partner who is Mexican we were never married, but we have children together (twins). They were born in Mexico in 2007. My question is are they eligible for dual Citizenship, and if so how do I go about making that happen? Many thanks
Nick - 30-Jul-17 @ 3:19 AM
Hi there, I have a question in regards to British nationals acquiring a second nationality. I was born in Hong Kong a year before the handover so I had a BNO passport which was expired and sent to the passport office for renewal. The problem is that I am also a Portuguese national/citizen (I have a Portuguese passport and ID) by descent as my dad was born in Portuguese Macau. So my question is will that in any way affect my renewal application? It's because your website says and I quote" The situation is different for British subjects and British protected persons. They will lose their status if they become nationals of another country", but some other websites say It can be held in conjunction with other nationalities or citizenship. I've already looked at the government website and it doesn't really help. Hope you'll be able to answer that question. Many thanks!
Kash - 28-Jul-17 @ 7:55 PM
@Ty a person born to a British mother before 1983 is not a British citizen and is not eligible for a British passport. You may however be entitled to register as a British citizen if you also meet the good character requirement and will have to attend a citizenship ceremony.
TJ. - 27-Jul-17 @ 7:23 AM
JenTaylor85 - Your Question:
Hi, my partner has an Australian passport as his parents, both British, earned Australian citizenship back in the 80s. Although he was born in Britain he still has an Australian passport due his parents dual citizenship. His mother refers to this as, 'he has it by proxy'. I'm British with no other passports and we have two daughters. Does the 'by proxy' apply to the girls also? Would they be eligible for Australian passports too?

Our Response:
I'm afraid we can only answer questions with regards to UK immigration laws. We have no knowledge of Australian immigration laws.
AboutImmigration - 25-Jul-17 @ 1:46 PM
Hi, my partner has an Australian passport as his parents, both British, earned Australian citizenship back in the 80s. Although he was born in Britain he still has an Australian passport due his parents dual citizenship. His mother refers to this as, 'he has it by proxy'. I'm British with no other passports and we have two daughters. Does the 'by proxy' apply to the girls also? Would they be eligible for Australian passports too?
JenTaylor85 - 24-Jul-17 @ 8:39 PM
I was born in South Africa To British born mum and am looking to get my British passport.I was born before 1983 and am not sure what documents I need.I also dont know what the best process is in applying as all the people I have spoken to are giving me different answers.Is there perhaps someone who can assist me please.
Ty - 24-Jul-17 @ 3:26 PM
Pedro - Your Question:
Hi AllMy wife is American (I am a born and bred U.K citizen with a U.K. Passport) and we married back in 1986. She has a stamp in her Passport (American) saying she has been granted the right to remain indefinitely in the U.K. She also has a Home Office letter issued in 1987 stating the same and this letter also confirms she can take or change employment without the need of any Government Visas. She has recently taken a new job and the new employers are saying she needs a BRP to prove she has the right to work in the U.K. We are still married and have lived in the U.K. for over 30 years with no breaks and she has had numerous jobs during that time and has a valid National Insurance number. Is her new employer correct in asking for a BRP card?

Our Response:
If this is at the employer's request, and it is part of company policy, then the company can request this. You can see more via the gov.uk link here. You will find that increasingly specific organisations will ask for proof of residency and will not accept the Indefinite Leave to Remain from an old passport, but will want to see a Biometric Residence Permit card instead. Companies now risk large fines if they employ undocumented individuals, so I imagine this company is trying to cover its back. However, it can take three-six months for the application to be processed. Your wife will also be entitled to apply for British citizenship.
AboutImmigration - 17-Jul-17 @ 11:47 AM
@Pedro your wife's ILR should be valid however it may be considered out of date by some employers given it was issued in 1986. I would advise that she applies for British citizenship.
TJ. - 16-Jul-17 @ 5:51 AM
Hi All My wife is American (I am a born and bred U.K citizen with a U.K. Passport) and we married back in 1986. She has a stamp in her Passport (American) saying she has been granted the right to remain indefinitely in the U.K. She also has a Home Office letter issued in 1987 stating the same and this letter also confirms she can take or change employment without the need of any Government Visas. She has recently taken a new job and the new employers are saying she needs a BRP to prove she has the right to work in the U.K. We are still married and have lived in the U.K. for over 30 years with no breaks and she has had numerous jobs during that time and has a valid National Insurance number. Is her new employer correct in asking for a BRP card?
Pedro - 15-Jul-17 @ 8:32 AM
My partner was born in Australia in 1980, his parents were British however they had residency in Australia at the time he was born and lived in Australia for 17 years altogether. They moved back to the UK when he was 9 years of age. He currently holds dual nationality but has a British passport but wants to apply for his Australian Passport, is he eligible? Will this then make him and Australian Citizen and can then live in Australia without needing a Visa? and will he loose his rights as a British Citizen? Does that also mean as a British Citizen I can out go there with him on a partner visa(we have been living together for over 12 months? Thank you!
Tashy - 12-Jul-17 @ 1:44 PM
@Moger you will be able to enter the UK as a visitor on your Australian passport because no visa is required. However if border officers realize you are British it may cause a delay. You will also need to exit the UK on your Australian passport to avoid being classed as an overstayer.
TJ. - 11-Jul-17 @ 3:45 PM
@rpiuek your children will be entitled to both USA and UK passports if they are born in the USA. This is assuming you were born/naturalised in the UK.
TJ. - 11-Jul-17 @ 3:41 PM
@Danni a British citizen cannot apply for a visa to enter the UK.
TJ. - 11-Jul-17 @ 3:37 PM
@Safi you are allowed to regain British citizenship if you renounce it for the purpose of obtaining another. However this can only be done once and you will have to register and attend citizenship ceremony.
TJ. - 11-Jul-17 @ 3:36 PM
Hi, I recently lost and applied for a new UK passport however i am concerned it may not arrive before my trip to Europe. I possess an Australian passport and was wondering if i could travel to Europe and renter the UK on my Australian passport as long as i leave the UK within a certain amount of days afterre entry having received my UK passport?
Moger - 10-Jul-17 @ 1:53 PM
Hi all, I was born in the U.K in 1985. Next year I am looking to move to America and marry my fiance, we will eventually have children and I am curious whether or not our children would be entitled to claim both UK and US passports as they will have family at both sides of the pond as it were. I'd like to give them the best of both worlds, could anyone advise on this? Thanks.
rpiuek - 10-Jul-17 @ 7:24 AM
My son (age 6) has dual UK and Hong Kong SAR passports through my partner but I have only a Chinese passport.My partner has taken our son to study at a fee-paying school in England but I have been refused a visa to accompany him.Can my son return to HK and apply for a Tier 4 student visa using his HK SAR passport so that I am eligible for a guardianship visa?
Danni - 5-Jul-17 @ 8:58 AM
If I renounce my citizenship in order to become a citizen of another state can I change my mind and get it back ?
Safi - 26-Jun-17 @ 3:49 PM
@Korra if you did not enter the UK with an Australian passport it will be difficult to exit with it or you may be categorized as an illegal entrant to the UK. Even if you entered with the Australian passport to visit the UK and have stayed longer than 6 months you will be classed as an overstayer when you try to exit with it.
TJ. - 25-Jun-17 @ 6:31 PM
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