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Logistics of registering for British citizenship by descent
October 29, 2008 12:53 PM   Subscribe

Registering for British citizenship by descent: do they return the documents? Also: cutting a check in foreign currency?

(Yeah, this is about an obscure a question as you can get. Perfect for AskMeFi.)

I'm planning to file the paperwork to register as a (dual with my U.S. birth citizenship) British citizen by descent via my mother, under this law.

This process has come up before here, but nobody seems to have said what actually happens after you file. Can someone with experience in the process tell me?

Particularly: do they return your documents? The application requires one to send in originals of one's passport (presumably, the passport from one's birth country), as well as one's mother's birth certificate and an expired passport for her. All of those documents are obnoxious to replace, and I'd really like to get them back.

If so, how long does it take them to return the documents? Does it take until the application is processed? (How long is that, anyway?)

Relatedly, does anyone know how I actually get a check cut in pounds from the U.S.? I'd like to purchase pounds now (while the exchange rate is relatively favorable) and then cut the check in a couple months when I get around to filing. My credit union doesn't do foreign currency trades. Can I just get pounds in cash, and then take them to a bank to have them cut a check in pounds at some point in the future?
posted by paultopia to Law & Government (7 answers total)
 
Particularly: do they return your documents? The application requires one to send in originals of one's passport (presumably, the passport from one's birth country), as well as one's mother's birth certificate and an expired passport for her. All of those documents are obnoxious to replace, and I'd really like to get them back.

If so, how long does it take them to return the documents? Does it take until the application is processed? (How long is that, anyway?)

Relatedly, does anyone know how I actually get a check cut in pounds from the U.S.?


Yes, of course they return your documents. As an American expat in the UK I've had to deal with this office already.

They will keep them until they process your application. The Waiting times are linked from the page you linked.

Lastly, you can pay them by debit or credit card.
posted by vacapinta at 1:32 PM on October 29, 2008


My brother just did this in Australia.

It took them eight weeks to process the application, and they retain all documents (original birth certificates, passport, etc) during that time. It's all sent back together once it's been approved.

I wouldn't plan anything needing that documentation while your application is being processed.

As far as currency exchange goes, you should be able to set up some kind of foreign currency account in GBP and transfer funds straight in. Maybe go with someone like HSBC* that operates in both countries, and should in theory, be easier to change to GBP now, and access your money when in the UK in the future. UK banks can be a bit notorious for making you jump through hopps when opening a new account over there.

* I work for a bank, but not that one.
posted by MatJ at 1:56 PM on October 29, 2008


I did this a couple of years ago, and it took several weeks for my application to be processed. I did get all the documents back, no problem, but it did take a bit longer than I expected, so be prepared for a wait.

And I think I used a credit card; don't remember having to get any foreign currency at all.
posted by OolooKitty at 2:43 PM on October 29, 2008


Thanks, everyone! Very reassuring that I don't have to somehow wrench one of my mother's beloved old stamp-filled passports from her, never to be seen again.
posted by paultopia at 3:05 PM on October 29, 2008


Do note that if you send in your mother's old passport, and if it isn't already cancelled, they will probably do that. They just add a cancelled stamp in the front and clip the front cover.

Do you really have to pay in GBP? I did this through the Australian High Commission and it was in local currency. Also, I did not have to send my current (Australian) passport - are you sure you have to send your US one?
posted by wingless_angel at 4:23 PM on October 29, 2008


I just renewed mine, which I got through descent 10 years ago.
Yes, they will return your documents. Also, there should be a form included in your application packet that you can fill out with your credit card. They will deduct whatever the appropriate amount is in pounds, according to the day's exchange rate. The form is also online here, if it's not in your packet.
posted by media_itoku at 5:17 PM on October 29, 2008


Hate to be a voice of doom, but have you already submitted your application for this? The Home Office has made some fairly significant changes to immigration law in the UK as of Oct 2008. It might be worth checking with your local consulate to see if you still have the right to apply under this category... New restrictions to citizenship regs of children of British mothers
posted by Grrlscout at 2:27 AM on November 30, 2008


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