Form NS is the application form for Confirmation of British Nationality Status. People who have a claim to British nationality are eligible to apply for a British national passport and to register British citizenship. British nationality designations have changed many times over the years as the UK's relationship with connected countries and immigration and nationality laws evolve. Because of these frequent changes, it is sometimes difficult to ascertain if you are eligible for British Nationality Status. The information below is a summarization of the eligibility requirements for Form NS and a helpful tool to assist you in discovering your British Nationality Status.
There are currently six nationality categories: British citizen; British Overseas Citizen; British Overseas Territories Citizen; British National (Overseas); British Subject; and British Protected Person.
Persons may also have a claim to British citizenship by descent or otherwise than by descent.
Select a category below to learn more.
- British citizen
- British Overseas Citizen
- British Overseas Territories Citizen
- British National (Overseas)
- British Subject
- British Protected Person
- British Citizenship by Descent or Otherwise than by Descent
You may already be a British citizen or have a claim to British citizenship if you were born in the UK or a qualifying territory or if you were born overseas under qualifying circumstances before 1 January 1983.
- Born in the UK or a Qualifying Territory
- Born in the UK before 1 January 1983.
- Born in the UK after 1 January 1983 and one of your parents was at the time of your birth either a British citizen or settled person.
- Born in a qualifying territory on or after 21 May 2002, if one of your parents was a British citizen or settled in the UK or the country of your birth at the time of your birth.
A British Overseas Citizen
The British Overseas Citizen status was created in the British Nationality Act of 1981. You became a British Overseas Citizen on 1 January 1983 you were a citizen of the UK and Colonies on 31 December 1982 and you did not become either a British citizen or a British Overseas Territories citizen on 1 January 1983.
A British Overseas Citizen is a citizen of a British territory. Currently there are 14 British territories: Akrotiri and Dhekelia; Anguilla; Bermuda; British Antarctic Territory; British Indian Ocean Territory; British Virgin Islands; Cayman Islands; Falkland Islands; Gibraltar; Montserrat; Pitcairn Islands; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; and Turks and Caicos Islands.
British Overseas Territories Citizen
The British Overseas Territories Citizen status was most currently defined in the British Nationality Act of 1981. The status is defined as someone who is a connected with a British overseas territory.
Currently there are 14 British territories: Akrotiri and Dhekelia; Anguilla; Bermuda; British Antarctic Territory; British Indian Ocean Territory; British Virgin Islands; Cayman Islands; Falkland Islands; Gibraltar; Montserrat; Pitcairn Islands; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; and Turks and Caicos Islands.
In most cases, a British Overseas Territories Citizen is a citizen of the UK and Colonies by birth, descent, legal adoption, naturalisation or registration in the UK. Or, if you lived in the UK while a citizen of the UK and Colonies for at least five years at any time before 1 January 1983.
If you were born in a British Overseas Territory on or after 1 January 1983 you are only a British Overseas Territories Citizen if at the time of your birth one of you parents was a British Overseas Territories Citizen or legally settled in a British Overseas Territory.
As of 21 May 2002, British Overseas Territories Citizens automatically became British Citizens through their connection with a qualifying territory -except for the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia.
A British National (Overseas)
A British National (Overseas) is a special category designated as of 1997 in the British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act. When sovereignty of Hong Kong returned to China during that year, this special status was given to persons who met the following requirements:
- An ordinarily resident* in Hong Kong on February 4, 1997;
- An ordinarily resident at the time of application to register citizenship;
- On February 4, 1997, you held no other nationality or citizenship except British nationality; and
- You are not a British National (overseas) of Chinese ethnic origin.
*Ordinarily Resident: This means you can prove you have a close link with a country that shows that country is where you normally live. Proof of ordinary residence would be the length of time you have spent in the country, the continuity and general nature of residence.
A British Subject
The term British subject has undergone two major definition changes - the first in 1949 and the second in 1983 when the British Nationality Act of 1981 was imposed. Before 1949 nearly all persons with a close connection to the UK were referred to as British subjects and after that date only citizens of Commonwealth countries were referred to as such. From 1983 to today, the term is used to define the following:
- a British subject without citizenship, which means you were a British subject on 31 December 1948 who did not become a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies, a citizen of a Commonwealth country, a citizen of Pakistan, or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland;
- a person who had been a citizen of Eire and a British subject on 31 December 1948 and had made a claim to remain a British subject; or
- a woman who had registered as a British subject on the basis of her marriage to a man who was in one of the two categories above.
A British Protected Person
A British Protected Person is a term used for persons living outside of the UK in places that are given British protection such as British protectorates and mandated territories. After 1949, this status was only granted to people who had no other nationality or way of obtaining one. From 1983 to today, after the British Nationality Act of 1981 was enacted, a British protected person is defined as:
- citizens or nationals of Brunei under any law in Brunei that provided for citizenship or nationality (but this status was subsequently lost when Brunei became a fully sovereign state);
- anyone who, immediately before 1 January 1983, was a British protected person; and
- anyone who would otherwise be born stateless, on or after 1 January 1983, in the United Kingdom or an overseas territory if, at the time of their birth, their mother or father was a British protected person.
British Citizenship by Descent or Otherwise
British Citizenship by Descent and British Citizenship Otherwise than by Descent are actually two different types of citizenship. The "by Descent" status does not allow you to pass on citizenship to your children while the "Otherwise than by Descent" status does allow you to pass on citizenship to your children.
The "Otherwise than by Descent" status includes people who obtained citizenship through:
- Registration as a British citizen
- Birth or adoption in the UK before 1 January 1983
- Birth in the UK on or after 1 January 1983 whose mother or legitimate father was a British citizen or settled person
There are also the exceptions of certain persons born in the UK whose parents were at the time of their birth: foreign diplomats based in the UK; visiting members of the armed forces; or occupying enemy aliens.
The "by Descent" category is descended through one generation of children born abroad. However, there are three differing definitions of this category based on the legitimacy and sex of the parent:
- Before 1 January 1983: UK and Colonies citizenship descended only to legitimate children of British citizen "Otherwise than by Descent" father
- From 1 January 1983: British citizenship descended equally along male and female lines (regardless if the female is legitimate)
- From 1 July 2006: British citizenship descended equally along male and female lines regardless of legitimacy