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Citizens of the Republic of Ireland

This page explains the circumstances in which citizens of the Republic of Ireland who were born before 1 January 1949 may claim British subject status.

You became a British subject on 1 January 1983 if, up to that date, you were a person who had been a citizen of Eire and a British subject on 31 December 1948 and had made a claim to remain a British subject.

If you had not made a claim to be a British subject, you may give the Home Secretary written notice of a claim to remain a British subject if you were a citizen of Eire and a British subject on 31 December 1948 and:

  • you have been in Crown service under the United Kingdom Government; or
  • you are associated by descent, residence or another way with the United Kingdom or a British overseas territory.

If you make a successful claim, we will consider you to have been a British subject for the whole period since 1 January 1949.

For more information about making a claim, contact us.

Terms explained

  • British overseas territory

    These were formerly known as the British dependent territories. The territories are: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands and Dependencies, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, St Helena and Dependencies, the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Virgin Islands. (The sovereign bases of Akrotiri and Dhekelia do not count as qualifying territories for nationality purposes.)

    South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands were the dependencies of the Falkland Islands, but were not British overseas territories between 3 October 1985 and 3 December 2001.

    Hong Kong stopped being a British overseas territory on 30 June 1997 when sovereignty returned to China. St Christopher and Nevis was a British overseas territory until 18 September 1983, when it became an independent Commonwealth country.

  • Crown service

    Working in the direct employment by the United Kingdom Government, the Northern Ireland Government, the Scottish Administration, the Welsh Assembly Government (from 6 November 2009) or, on or after 21 May 2002, the governments of the qualifying territories. (See Qualifying territory.) This does not include someone who is subcontracted on government projects or in the service of Crown servants, such as Royal Navy laundrymen or teachers working in schools on British bases.

  • United Kingdom

    The United Kingdom includes England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are considered as part of the United Kingdom for nationality purposes, but have their own immigration laws and policies. The Channel Islands are not treated as part of the United Kingdom for value added tax (VAT) purposes.

All glossary terms