Am I Eligible for Dual Citizenship?
May 14, 2008 10:45 PM   Subscribe

Can I, having been born in the US to a British citizen before 1983, attain dual citizenship?

Some details:

I was born in September of 1982. My mother was born in Scotland in 1962 and moved to the States in 1976. She is still not a full blown citizen of the States - she can't vote, but she does have a social security number and has worked in the States for a long time.

I'm planning on calling the San Francisco embassy in the morning, but I'd love some help with knowing what questions to ask or what I might not be thinking about.
posted by brandoniain to Law & Government (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
From your reference to 1983, I assume that you have grown up in the US and are trying to get British citizenship.

This page seems relevant, although I'm having trouble following the 'and ... or....' logic of it.
posted by jacalata at 11:20 PM on May 14, 2008

Just call the consulate dial whatever to speak to the consular section (it is a consulate general, they will have several different sections in addition to consular services), and ask. When I worked for there, we'd get at least 10 calls a day asking the same question.

It has been a while, but if I remember correctly, you are not eligible; you were born at least 3 months too early. Children born before december 31, 1982 are eligible for citizenship if their father is/was a British citizen. Children born on or after January 1, 1983 are eligible if either of their parents are/were a citizen.

Give them a call and ask about what they do in situations like yours.
posted by necessitas at 11:32 PM on May 14, 2008

Here is more info to read
posted by necessitas at 11:38 PM on May 14, 2008

My husband was born in 1973 and got dual citizenship with Britain through his mother, who was born there in the 1940s and has lived in America on a greencard since the 1950s.

The "British Nationality Act 1981" is the authorizing agent on his forms, and he did all the paperwork via the British Embassy in Washington DC ( It cost about $200 for the passport and required a copy of his mother's birth certificate and his own. He had to go to a ceremony and swear allegiance to the crown.

He was also given a booklet ( called "Registration as a British citizen, a guide for certain persons born before 1983 to British mothers". Hopefully you can get your hands on one of these.
posted by xo at 11:48 PM on May 14, 2008

Here we go on the BIA website. Forms n'all.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:10 AM on May 15, 2008

And the relevant portion:
The requirements:
You will be entitled to registration if:

- You were born after 7th February 1961 but before 1st January 1983 and you were born to a mother who was a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies at the time of your birth


- You would have been a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by descent if it had been possible for women to pass on citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies to their children
in the same way as men could


- Had you been a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies you would have had the right of abode in the United Kingdom and would have become a British citizen on 1st January 1983


- The secretary of state is satisfied that you are of good character.
posted by Happy Dave at 3:16 AM on May 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

I got my British citizenship through my mother last year, under exactly the same arrangement. I just used my British passport for the first time and am writing this from London.
posted by rdc at 4:00 AM on May 15, 2008

You are what is called a British Citizen by Descent, that is you obtained your citizenship from your mother. You can get a British passport and all that. You cannot pass this citizenship on to your children. However, if your children are born in England, they will be British Citizens Otherwise Than by Descent. See this page.

On a personal note: I am a dual citizen (US/UK) having been born in England to American parents (not there as diplomats). I have two passports, as does my daughter (who cannot pass on her citizenship except by having her children in England, i.e. who is in the same position as you are). I have been told by US border guards that it is illegal to have dual citizenship, and they have threatened to confiscate my UK passport. They are completely wrong. However, this does not really matter to you if they take your passport. So even though you are perfectly within the law to have and use both passports, don't flash that bit of information around. The hassle of getting your passport back will be more headache than you can imagine.
posted by Capri at 10:44 AM on May 15, 2008

While the Border Guards were wrong about dual nationality being 'illegal' (eejits), there's a grain of truth. The government policy Capri linked to states that it is illegal to enter or exit the US on a foreign passport if you are a US passport holder. A similar law applies to entering and exiting the UK. Simply put, you will enter and exit the country on the passport of that country, or you risk being asked hard questions by both sets of immigration officers. So, you leave the US, you exit on a US passport, then enter the UK at the other end of the flight on your UK passport, and the same applies in reverse.

So, while dual nationality is certainly not illegal, not identifying yourself as a US citizen when entering or leaving the US (through use of a foreign passport) certainly is.
posted by Happy Dave at 11:09 AM on May 15, 2008

Sounds very similar to my situation. I have my two passports.

I've flown back and forth to London numerous times on exclusively my US passport. I can't remember which end you get the "stamp" on though, but I make sure that it's the US immigration officials who see the stamps in my US passport.

I was never advised that I had to use my UK passport to enter the UK and as far as I can tell, I'm not really sure how they could enforce that unless their immigration computers would flag me as a UK citizen after I present them with my US passport... and that's never happened in almost 30 years.

But I certainly wouldn't fuck with it going the other way.
posted by dopamine at 7:42 PM on May 15, 2008

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