This page is designed for non-EU nationals (South African born nationals) that have a parent (father or mother) that was born in a former British colony.

We find that having a grand parent born in a former colony reduces the right to claim British citizenship. Factors such as marital rights and whether the “former British colonialist” served in Her Majesties Armed Forces impact the cases eligibility.

In double descent cases, one also has to factor in the parent(s) place of birth, date of birth and marital status. As well as the applicant themselves.


Attached below is an image of the British Empire between 1815 and 1920:

With the above British Empire in mind, British passports were previously issued to nationals of each of the British colonies. As time progressed, each British colony fought for its own independence and all eventually broke away from British governments rule.

The Commonwealth of Nations was then formed (thanks to the help of Jan Smuts (who coined the phrase)). This was formed as a means to protect British investments (specifically the infrastructure and investments the British government has made in each of these countries).

In the late 1970s the British were faced with too many countries issuing British passports (fears of UK over-population began to grow). To address this, the British government implemented the British Nationality Act of 1981.

The new citizenship act allows for differentiated types of British citizenship (specifically British born nationals versus British overseas nationals). This was a strategic means to stop issuing British passports through colonies (the British government specifically stopped colonial birthrights from being passed down through birth). During this time, the British government also stopped issuing British citizenship through marriage.


In the 21st century, this now means that even if your parents hold British passports, it does not mean that you (their children) can automatically qualify to claim British nationality (in order to get a British passport).

We often get contacted to say: “My parents have a British passport, so I should qualify for one?“.

After further evaluation of their case, we often find that they are one generation too far.

For more information about birth rights being passed down through generations, please click here to find out more.


When evaluating the claim to British citizenship through a former British colony, emphasis is placed on the date of birth(s) (which needs to be cross referenced whether the Colony was under British rule at the time of birth) and place of birth (British colony or part of the United Kingdom).

Marital status as well as employment status play additional qualifying factors. If the former British colonialist served Her Majesties Armed Forces (and paper based evidence can confirm this), the applicants claim could be strengthened.

Given the complex nature of factoring in colony places, dates and rulings available at each year and needing to cross reference that to each citizenship claim, Move Up’s team is currently unable to facilitate these cases.

Therefore if your parents were born in a colony, Move Up, unfortunately, cannot further assist in British nationality application. In these cases however we encourage clients to find out if their grandparents were born in the UK to see if they can claim UK Ancestry working rights.