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UK: The Price of Citizenship

Citizenship – what does it mean to you? 

For many it’s about identity, inclusion and human rights. For children in the UK, access to citizenship can have an enormous impact on their rights and futures.

An estimated 120,000 children living in the UK have neither British citizenship nor immigration permission to be here. More than half of them were born in the UK and many are entitled to register as British citizens under the British Nationality Act 1981.

However, many children are essentially prevented from accessing their rights to register as British citizens by the charging of a prohibitive, profit-making fee.

The price of rights?

Just this month the fee for children to apply for registration was increased again. The government is now charging children £973 to apply, and making a £587 profit on every application – the stated processing cost of an application being just £386.

There is no power to waive the fee for children whose families cannot afford to pay. There is also no provision for applications without payment of the fee for children in local authority care.

In practice, this means that many children are unable to register simply because they and their families simply cannot afford the fee. Once young people reach the age of 18 many lose their right to register.

You can read more about this in Amnesty UK and the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC)’s joint briefing on the fee for children’s registration (citizenship) applications.

Importance of citizenship

Nationality is recognised as an important element of an individual’s identity. Without being able to access their right to British citizenship, children may miss out on opportunities such as funding for higher education, a British passport, or the right to vote. They are also put at risk because without this citizenship they remain subject to immigration rules and powers. 

The Home Office should be giving primary consideration to the best interests of the child when developing policies that concern them. The Home Office should therefore be ensuring that children can access the citizenship to which they are entitled, rather than profiting from them.

Take action

Amnesty International Children’s Human Rights Network, together with the Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC), is calling for:

•    The removal of the profit-making aspect of the fee
•    The introduction of a fee waiver for cases where a child’s parent or other carer would be unable to afford the fee
•    The charging of no fee for registration in cases of children assisted by a local authority under the Children Act 1989

Join us in taking action by downloading the petition below aimed at the Immigration Minister and collecting signatures. 

If you would like to learn more about the campaign or other ways to get involved please contact the Children’s Human Rights Network at

Petition form - click to download
About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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