British citizena person who was a citizen of the UK and its colonies and had the right of abode before the coming into force of the British Nationality Act 1981 automatically became a British citizen when it came into force. This rule is subject to two exceptions: an illegitimate and formerly stateless person who became a citizen by registration under the British Nationality (No. 2) Act 1964; and a British subject who became a citizen by registration outside the UK by reason of an ancestral connection with the UK. After 1 January 1983, British citizenship is acquired by birth only if one parent (or both) is a British citizen or is settled in the UK. An illegitimate child can trace entitlement only through its mother. Persons may apply for citizenship subject to detailed rules. If successful, they will be invited to take an oath or affirmation of allegiance at a citizenship ceremony. Persons may apply to be naturalized. They must be 18 or over, of sound mind, intend to continue to live in the UK and be able to communicate in English or Welsh or Scottish Gaelic. They must be of good character and have lived in the UK for a minimum of 5 years. The rules differ where the application is on the basis of marriage to a British citizen where only 3 years’ residence is required. The applicant must have been legally resident during that time.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006