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In 2002 the UK government restored full British citizenship rights, including the right of abode in the United Kingdom, to nearly all British Overseas Territory Citizens (formerly called British Dependent Territories citizens – BDTCs).
Any person who was a BDTC before 21 May 2002 automatically became a British citizen on that date, and children born after that date to BDTCs also automatically acquire full UK citizenship.
The sole exception to this was for those living in Akrotiri and Dhekelia, which were excluded due to their status as military bases as specified in the treaty establishing Cyprus.
If You Are a BOTC You Are Likely Also a British Citizen
What this means is that if you are a BOTC (British Overseas Territory Citizen) through birth, naturalization or descent you are very likely a British citizen and do not need to register for British Citizenship. Instead, you can apply for a UK Passport right now!
Children born before 1 January 1983 to BOTC mothers
Before 1983 it was basically impossible to inherit any form of British nationality through your mother if your parents were married. When the rule changes happened for BOTCs in 2002, this situation was not fixed.
However, as of 2009 you can inherit BOTC citizenship and therefore British citizenship through your mother even if you were born before January 1, 1983.
Children born before 1 July 2006 to BOTC fathers
Before July, 2006 it was impossible to inherit any form of British nationality through a father not married to your mother.
As of July 1, 2006 it became possible for anyone who would have inherited British citizenship through an unwed father to “Register as a British Citizen,” a preliminary step before applying for a passport.
However, these provisions do not apply to British Overseas Territories Citizens. At this moment, it is only possible to become a BOTC through your unumarried father if the territory he was born in allows.
That means that, if you are claiming BOTC status and therefore British citizenship through your father, who was not married to your mother at the time of your birth, you have to look at the terrtiory’s citizenship rules, not the UK rules.
If the territory your father was born in allows you to become a BOTC, then you will also become a British citizen.
If the territory your father was born in does not allow you to become a BOTC because he was not married to your mother at the time of your birth, you cannot claim BOTC citizenship or British citizenship and must naturalize like anyone else.
To find out, Google the territory your father was born in (see the list below) along with “citizenship regulations.” For example, “Anguilla citizenship regulations.”
- Anguilla (in the Caribbean),
- the British Antarctic Territory,
- the British Indian Ocean territory,
- the British Virgin Islands (in the Caribbean),
- the Cayman Islands (in the Caribbean),
- the Falkland Islands (near Argentina),
- Gibraltar (in Spain),
- Montserrat (in the Caribbean),
- the Pitcairn Islands (in the south Pacific),
- Saint Helena (off the coast of Africa in the Atlantic),
- Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (off the coast of Africa in the Atlantic),
- South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (closer to Antarctica than the Falklands),
- the sovereign base areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in Cyprus (citizens of these bases are not automatically British citizens),
- the Turks and Caicos Islands (in the Caribbean).