UK Birth Rights explained for South Africans

British citizenship is not automatically passed down through descent. A common misconception of South Africans is that if the applicant’s parent(s) hold a British passport, that the applicant is entitled to a British passport. This is not true.

British citizenship (which grants a British passport) places emphasis on the place of birth. British citizenship is passed down one generation from UK born nationals. South Africans that find that their parents (who hold British passports) were born in SA and that their grandparents were born in the UK, need to consider the UK Ancestry visa as their best option.

Claiming Birth Rights From The United Kingdom

Emphasis on claiming British nationality through descent (in other words, in cases where ones parent has a British passport) is placed on where the British passport holder was born. British nationality is passed down one generation through birth (meaning that applicants can only claim British nationality through descent if their parent was born in the UK).

On a daily basis, we find that hundreds of South Africans have the misconception that because their parents hold a British passport, that they feel entitled to a British passport. The truth is, British citizenship is not easily passed down through double descent.

Applicants that find out that their grandparents were in fact born in the UK (and not their parents) should consider claiming UK Ancestry working rights as their easiest means to live and work in the UK (especially in cases where they have family dependents).

There are still a lot of Rhodesia born parents (or grandparents) that have held Blue British Passports (given that they were born in a former British colony). Colonial birth rights and the British citizenship issued through Colonies of Great Britain are no longer passed through descent (automatically).

The only time Colonial British citizenship is automatically passed down through birth is when the applicant (child of a Colonial British Citizen) was born in the UK (having had their birth registered in the United Kingdom).


Please try our free birth certificate assessment below if you are looking to claim UK birth rights.

Free Birth Certificate Assessment

Summary of Birth Rights

Main Applicant Born in the UK: subject to having parent(s) that have been granted or are UK residents, an applicant that was born in the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales) will qualify for British citizenship.

Parents born in the UK: In order to be able to claim British citizenship through descent, applicants need to be able to present evidence that your biological parent(s) were born in the UK.

Grandparents born in the UK: British citizenship can be passed down two generations but in order to do so, applicants have to meet quite a few technical requirements. Most South Africans qualify for UK ancestry working visas instead.

Ancestry Dependents Summary of Birth Rights Ancestry Visa Basics

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