- You normally have to register with the British government to become a citizen. However, in some cases you don’t have to register.
- If your parents married when you were a young child you may not have to register and can apply directly for a UK passport.
- If you were born in a country that recognizes out-of-wedlock births, you may not have to register and can apply directly for a UK passport.
If you were born to a British father and you were born before 2006, but your parents were unmarried, you may have to register for British citizenship before applying for a UK passport. (This is provided the British father was born or naturalized in the UK and did not inherit his citizenship.)
Anyone born to an unmarried British father since 2006 is a British citizen and can apply for UK passport immediately, provided the father was born in the UK or naturalized there.
Do I Have To Register as a UK Citizen?
If you were born before 2006 and your father and mother were not married at the time of your birth, whether or not you have to register as a British citizen depends upon a few factors:
- Did your parents marry subsequently?
- Does your country of birth recognize births out of wedlock?
UK Passport by Descent – Parents Married After Your Birth
If your parents were not married when you were born but were married after your birth you may not have to register as a British citizen first, and you may be able to apply for your passport right away. That saves you time and money! Whether or not you can skip the registration is dependent upon when your parents married; they need to have married while you were still a minor and the closer to your birth the better.
UK Passport by Descent – Country of Birth Recognizes Births Out of Wedlock
Many countries were more progressive than the UK in regarding children of unwed parents as legitimate.
The UK government used to have a handy list on their website of all the countries they believed recognized births out of wedlock as legitimate however the document has been taken down.
In Canada and the United States, this distinction is made at the provincial/state level as regions are responsible for registration of births, so you will need to check with the Registrar General or the Vital Statistics Office where you were born to find out when they recognized births out of wedlock as legitimate.
If your birth was recognized as legitimate by your province or state, you will need to be able to prove this as part of your passport application. If you cannot prove it, you will have to register as a British citizen instead.
And once you’ve done that, you can apply for a British passport: