Who is a British overseas citizen?
This page explains who has the status of British overseas citizen.
For information on whether you may be able to apply for British overseas citizenship, see the section on registration by people with a connection to Hong Kong (this applies in rare cases if you are connected with Hong Kong).
British overseas citizenship is a category of citizenship that was created by the British Nationality Act 1981, which came into force on 1 January 1983.
You became a British overseas citizen on 1 January 1983 if:
- you were a citizen of the United Kingdom 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.
(Before 26 February 2002, the British overseas territories were known as the British Dependent Territories, and British overseas territories citizenship was known as British Dependent Territories citizenship. On this page, we refer to it by its current name, British overseas territories citizenship.)
In most cases, you became a British citizen on 1 January 1983 if you were a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by birth, descent, legal adoption, naturalisation or registration in the United Kingdom, or if you lived in the United Kingdom, while a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies, for at least five years at any time before 1 January 1983.
In most cases, you became a British overseas territories citizen on 1 January 1983 if you were a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by birth, descent, legal adoption, naturalisation or registration in a place that was a British overseas territory on 1 January 1983.
If you were a British overseas territories citizen only because you had a connection with Hong Kong, you lost that citizenship automatically on 30 June 1997, when sovereignty returned to China. But if you:
- had no other nationality, and would have become stateless, you became a British Overseas citizen on 1 July 1997; or
- were born on or after 1 July 1997, and would otherwise have been born stateless, you were a British Overseas citizen if, when you were born, one of your parents was a British National (Overseas) or a British Overseas citizen.
Special rules were introduced in 1986 to allow British overseas territories citizens from Hong Kong to acquire the new status of British (national) overseas. Those who did not register as British nationals (overseas) and had no other nationality or citizenship on 30 June 1997 became British overseas citizens on 1 July 1997.
MORE NEWS AND UPDATES
- Immigration fees change on 6 April 2013
- Changes to the Immigration Rules - April 2013
- Revisions to the codes of practice for skilled migrant workers
- New immigration fees proposed
These were formerly known as the British dependent territories. The territories are: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands and Dependencies, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, St Helena and Dependencies, the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Virgin Islands. (The sovereign bases of Akrotiri and Dhekelia do not count as qualifying territories for nationality purposes.)
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands were the dependencies of the Falkland Islands, but were not British overseas territories between 3 October 1985 and 3 December 2001.
Hong Kong stopped being a British overseas territory on 30 June 1997 when sovereignty returned to China. St Christopher and Nevis was a British overseas territory until 18 September 1983, when it became an independent Commonwealth country.
Legal adoption is adoption by order of a court or under the Hague Convention. (See Hague Convention.) A foreign adoption order will be recognised in the United Kingdom if it was made in a 'designated country' - a country included in the Adoption (Designation of Overseas Adoptions) Order 1973. The current list of these countries is on the Department for Children, Schools and Families website.
A parent is the biological mother of a child, the biological father if he was married to the mother when the child was born or if he can prove paternity, or the adoptive mother or father of a child who has been legally adopted. For children born before 1 July 2006 citizenship could not be passed on from a father if he was not married to the child’s mother.
Someone who is not considered as a national by any country under the terms of its laws.