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British Citizenship

Volume 718: debated on Monday 8 March 2010


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government why, having regard to section 4C of the British Nationality Act 1981, the note on page 18 of the guidance notes entitled “Applying for an identity card” (Home Office reference IDCG01) states that “You can't claim nationality through your mother”; and whether they will alter the guidance notes booklet to say that people born before 1983 to a British mother can register as a British citizen. [HL1990]

This reference in the guidance notes relates only to those born abroad before 1st January 1983 when the British Nationality Act 1948 was in force. Under this Act, a person born outside the UK could only claim an entitlement to British citizenship through their paternal line. It did not allow for children born abroad to make claims to British citizenship through their maternal line.

However, this section of the guidance notes and the equivalent reference in the passport guidance notes will be amended at the next reprint to make it clear that, although people born abroad before 1 January 1983 to British mothers do not have an automatic claim to British citizenship, they may register to become one under Section 4(c) of the British Nationality Act 1981.