Who is a British overseas territories citizen?
This page explains who has the status of British overseas territories citizen.
For information on whether you may be able to apply for British overseas territories citizenship, see the section on eligibility.
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.
British overseas territories citizenship is a category of citizenship that was created by the British Nationality Act 1981, which came into force on 1 January 1983. It is for people connected with the British overseas territories.
You became a British overseas territories 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 a British citizen on 1 January 1983; and
- you had connections with a British overseas territory because you, your parents or your grandparents were born, registered or naturalised in that British overseas territory. If you did not have these connections, you may have become a British overseas citizen (see British overseas citizens).
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.
If you were born in a British overseas territory on or after 1 January 1983, you are a British overseas territories citizen if at the time of your birth one of your parents was:
- a British overseas territories citizen; or
- legally settled in a British overseas territory.
On 21 May 2002, British overseas territories citizens became British citizens automatically if they had British overseas territories citizenship by connection with a qualifying territory. A qualifying territory is any of the British overseas territories except for the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia.
When St Christopher and Nevis became an independent Commonwealth country on 19 February 1983, British overseas territories citizens lost that citizenship if they were connected only with St Christopher and Nevis.
On 30 June 1997, when sovereignty of Hong Kong returned to China, British overseas territories citizens lost that citizenship if they were connected only with Hong Kong. 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.
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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.