UK Passports!
April 10, 2012 10:05 AM   Subscribe

Am I eligible to get a British passport?

I've often been told that I'm eligible to get a British passport. I am a Canadian citizen who was born in May 1982, to a father who was born in Wales in 1947. He doesn't currently hold a British passport, to my knowledge, but it's my understanding that he can get one quite easily.

So if I am eligible, what steps do I need to take to get one? What I sort of understand, from a few very confusing Google searches, is that my father first needs to apply for his (using his birth certificate?) before I can start applying for myself. If anyone can explain the process to me, I'd really appreciate it! (The more in depth, the better!) I'm also wondering how long it would take, if let's say my father were to submit his paperwork tomorrow. What's a reasonable time frame to get my passport?

Furthermore, what does holding a British passport mean exactly? Does it mean that I am a UK citizen, even if I don't live there? How would having the passport affect things like moving/working in the UK?

I'm asking because I'm currently considering into moving abroad for work and am trying to figure out which locations might be of best interest to me.

Thanks everyone!
posted by ohmy to Law & Government (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Let me put a little placeholder here -- I am in a similar situation (born similar time, mother born in UK similar time).

I believe you are a UK citizen and eligible for a passport, and have even put the paperwork together myself (although I have not yet managed to document my citizenship). I will try to come back with the details.

As I recall, time frame is weeks to a couple months if everything is in order.
posted by grobstein at 10:11 AM on April 10, 2012

I can't speak to all the details, but speaking as an Australian citizen with a Scottish father, one thing worth noting is: if your parents were not married then you are not eligible for a British passport. This is a stupid rule and I hope it isn't relevant to your situation, but it seemed worth mentioning because a lot of the documentation doesn't discuss it. It's not until you come to fill out the forms and get to the bit that says "attach your parents' marriage certificate" that it comes up.
posted by severalbees at 10:15 AM on April 10, 2012

The question is not about passports, but citizenship. You need to ascertain if your father was a British citizen at the time of your birth. If so, you have a good chance of being a British citizen yourself. Read this:

Having citizenship will mean that you can pretty much live and work anywhere in the EU without significant constraint.
posted by Jehan at 10:17 AM on April 10, 2012

Furthermore, what does holding a British passport mean exactly? Does it mean that I am a UK citizen, even if I don't live there? How would having the passport affect things like moving/working in the UK?

Well, it's really the other way around. If you're a British national, you're entitled to apply for a passport. If you are a British national (which seems quite possible depending on various details like parent's marital status, and your father's citizenship at the time of your birth) then you're entitled to a British passport, and to live and work in the UK. You're also entitled to live and work in the rest of the EU.

Good luck! If you're thinking of working abroad then it'd be great to have British nationality.
posted by atrazine at 10:24 AM on April 10, 2012

My brother was born in Québec to our Welsh-born parents. He carries a British passport. Having a British passport allows you to travel and work in the UK and the European Union without a visa or work permit. If you're planning to work abroad, a British passport will open up greater flexibility in movement and work options, not just in the UK but across Europe.

You can start by looking over the application forms and application requirement criteria for your particular situation. I haven't applied in years, so I don't know what the process is like — you might have to visit a local embassy office to deliver items, for example. But the application process is detailed there, so take a look.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:25 AM on April 10, 2012

Response by poster: Okay, I realize that maybe I left out a few relevant details that may be helpful:

1. My father was born in Wales in 1947, and came to Canada in 1951 and has been living here ever since. I just spoke to him and he wasn't much help, but anyway, he seems to think that he's still a British citizen since he doesn't think his family renounced their citizenships when they came here... but he left there when he was 4 and doesn't really remember any details about his immigration to Canada. He doesn't currently hold a British passport specifically, but we think that he is most likely still a British citizen (am I right on that?)... therefore was a British citizen when I was born. (?)

2. My parents were married before I was born and are still married. My mother was not born in the UK.
posted by ohmy at 10:36 AM on April 10, 2012

Almost exact same situation. Born similar year, father born in the UK, moved to Canada at 5.

From my research:

You need your own long form birth certificate.
You need your father's birth certificate.
You need your passport.

Those three things, plus pictures and fee for the passport need to be sent to Washington DC, to the British Embassy's passport office there. Their turnaround time is in the 2-3 month neighborhood from what I could gather.

You can get more information by calling the British embassy in Ottawa, but they will direct you to the website for the mostpart as they don't have passport services there.
posted by smitt at 10:52 AM on April 10, 2012

(Oh: you're not needed to apply for citizenship, as you're already a citizen as your father was born there. You are simply applying for your British passport, and use the forms linked above).
posted by smitt at 10:54 AM on April 10, 2012

Right- I did this and am happily living in the UK (5 years now) My dad is english, born in 1940 in essex and emigrated to the States in 1951. When I was about 19 or so, I started really researching things big time. My dad hadn't been back to the UK more than once since he'd left, and he thought that he'd given up citizenship. But he hadn't.... he remembered talking to US officials and giving up his citizenship, but for UK peeps- you can only give up your citizenship to a UK official.... so I was cool there, I ordered his long form birth certificate, my birth certificate (long form only!) and my grandparents... and my parents marriage licence.

to note, I was entitled because my dad was british- my cousins (to my female uk born aunt) are not.... It took me about a year.
posted by misspony at 11:44 AM on April 10, 2012

Oh- for your timeframe question- it took me a year because I had to ring places in the uk and ask them to send me things (and I was 19 and disorganized) and I was reading through massive bits of law about it. My brothers took my docs and had passports within 4 months. If you look at the passport application and apply, then they'll let you know what they need (ie- dad's birth cert) that would take less time than I spent.
posted by misspony at 11:56 AM on April 10, 2012

A passport can (and does) expire, but citizenship does not. Citizenship is either relinquished or revoked, but it does not expire. You and your father are British nationals, you just don't have the passport as documentation of that. You do not need to relinquish Canadian citizenship — I currently am a citizen of Canada, the UK, and the United States. You may be asked (as the US does) to identify yourself as a national of a particular state when traveling abroad, but you do not need to relinquish your current status, if this is a concern. Hope this helps.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:40 PM on April 10, 2012

As for where you can live, the short answer is "anywhere in the EU" and the long answer is found here. I have a NL passport and similar rights -- I highly recommend it, and you can pass it on to your kids in some cases (don't know UK law too well).
posted by zvs at 12:59 PM on April 10, 2012

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