This post focuses on how to regain your British citizenship after renouncing it. There are a number of reasons why you may decide to renounce your British citizenship, including if you wish to gain a nationality or citizenship of a country that does not permit dual citizenship or multiple nationalities.
Following renunciation of your British citizenship, you will receive a declaration of renunciation. But, how can you get your British citizenship back if you have renounced it? An application to regain citizenship following renunciation will not automatically be accepted on the basis that you previously held British citizenship.
Do I Have a Right to Register as a British citizen?
There are two legal provisions which provide a right to regain or resume British citizenship following renunciation:
Section 13 of the British Nationality Act 1981 – This sets out that you have a right to register as a British citizen if you have renounced British citizenship to keep or acquire another citizenship on or after 01 January 1983.
Section 10 of the British Nationality Act 1981 – This sets out that you have a right to register as a British citizen if you have renounced citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies before 01 January 1983 either:
- in order to keep or acquire citizenship of a Commonwealth country, or
- because you had reasonable cause to believe that you would be deprived of your citizenship (of a Commonwealth country) if you did not renounce it.
And at the date of the application you either:
- Had a qualifying connection with the UK, as per section 10(4), or
- Had been married to a person who has, or would have had in the case of deceased partners, such a connection
The qualifying connection is that you, your father or paternal grandfather:
- was born in the UK, or
- is, or was, naturalised in the UK, or
- was registered as a citizen of the UK and Colonies either in the UK or in a country which was, at the time, included in section 1(3) of the British Nationality Act 1981
If you do not have a right, you can still apply to regain your British citizenship by relying on the discretionary provisions of the British Nationality Act 1981.
You are only able to register as a British citizen under section 13 and/or section 10 once.
Requirements For Regaining Your British Citizenship
If you wish to resume your British citizenship after renouncing it, you will need to meet the following requirements:
- Over the age of 18
For children, there are separate provisions for registration as a British citizen, as set out in the guidance here.
- Sound Mind
This is to ensure the applicant understands the steps that are being taken. There is discretion for the decision maker to waive this requirement if they believe permitting citizenship would be the right thing to do.
- Good Character
Good character is broad in nature and considers criminality, including driving offences, civil judgements and cautions and as well as financial soundness, debt, deception and immigration related issues.
The guidance states the following:
"To be of good character you should have shown respect for the rights and freedoms of the UK, observe its laws and fulfilled your duties and obligations as a resident of the UK. Checks will be carried out to ensure that the information you give is correct."
Any such issues should be disclosed in the registration application. Further information on the good character requirement in citizenship applications can be found in this blog post.
What Type of British Citizenship Will I Acquire if I Regain British Citizenship After Renouncing It?
There is a distinction in nationality law between British citizenship 'by descent' and British citizenship 'otherwise than by descent'.
The guidance indicates that if you regain British citizenship after renouncing it then the same type of citizenship will resume. So, if prior to renouncing your citizenship you were a British citizen by descent, then you will regain citizenship by descent.
Will Resuming My British Citizenship Impact My Current Citizenship or Nationality?
You are not required to give up your current citizenship or nationality when you become a British citizen. However, some jurisdictions require you to only hold one citizenship or nationality and you may lose your current nationality or citizenship when you become a British citizen, such as China and India.
Further information on holding multiple nationalities and citizenships, including the master nationality rule, can be found here.
Documents Required For Regaining British Citizenship
If you are regaining British citizenship because you would have lost or failed to obtain citizenship of another country if you had not renounced your British citizenship, alongside your application, you will need to provide the following:
- Your declaration of renunciation (form RN1 or R6)
- Your passport of your current citizenship or nationality (or naturalisation certificate if applicable)
- A letter or statement from the country you are a citizen of confirming that if you had not given up your British citizen you would not have been able to obtain your current nationality
If you gave up United Kingdom and Colonies citizenship you will need to provide the above and the following:
- Your birth, naturalisation or registration certificate of the person you have the connection to the UK with, and evidence of your relationship to that person, for example a birth, marriage or civil partnership certificate
- Evidence that you gave up citizenship because you believed you'd be deprived of your citizenship of a Commonwealth country unless you did so – this should be a separate letter explaining this plus any additional documents in support
If you are regaining citizenship for another reason, registration is at the discretion of the decision maker. You should provide alternative evidence to support your case including your reasons for wanting to regain British citizenship.
Application Process and Fees for Resuming British Citizenship
The fee for applying to regain British citizenship following renunciation is the current registration fee of £1,206. You should fill in the form online or by post, but online will typically be quicker. If you live in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or a British overseas territory, you will apply in person or by post instead using this form.
British Citizenship Ceremony
If you successfully regain citizenship following a decision to renounce then you will then need to attend a citizenship ceremony to receive your certificate.
If you are living in the UK, the Home Office will confirm the local authority to contact to arrange the ceremony. If you are living outside of the UK, the ceremony will take place at the consulate or embassy of that country.
You should attend the citizenship ceremony within three months of receiving the invitation to the ceremony, as non attendance in this period is a reason for refusal.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.