Traveling with dual national (US-UK) baby to UK - can I do this with just US passport?

(52 Posts)
AlohaMama Fri 11-Jan-13 00:26:35

Hard to summarise this one in the subject but here is the deal. I live in the US. I'm expecting a baby in June who will be a dual national (British parents, born in the US). We will get the baby a US and a UK passport but both need the birth certificate to be sent off with the application, and both take 4-6 weeks, and we'd like to visit the UK ~8 weeks after baby is born so I don't think we'll have time to get both passports before the trip. I know the US demands every US citizen enters and leaves the US using a US passport, so I was planning on applying for that one and taking baby to the UK using their US passport. Does anyone know if that will cause problems for entering the UK? I'm assuming we'd just enter the foreign nationals queue at immigration and would have to get a visa stamp in baby's passport. We're only going on a holiday (2-3 weeks) so the length of stay isn't an issue.

SavoyCabbage Fri 11-Jan-13 00:38:24

As far as I know, the baby will just be a us citizen coming for a holiday. Especially as you have return flights and a life back in the US. It's possible that the British immigration might think that you are planning to settle in the uk with a baby who has no passport/right to be there, but you aren't so would be able to show that if you were stopped.

if you are traveling without the other parent, it's always a good idea to have a letter from the other parent saying they know you have the child. . Especially if you have different names and/or different passports.

The last time we went to the uk one of my dds was on a british passport and the other on an Australian passport. They didn't ask and I didn't explain.

howdoo Fri 11-Jan-13 01:49:58

You're right, you'll just have a longer queue when you arrive in the UK than if the baby had a UK passport as well. Our DSs have both passports - we use the US one when leaving the US, the UK one when we arrive in the UK, and, on the way back, we use the US one when leaving the UK and arriving in the US. Basically so we don't have to queue!

Whowouldfardelsbear Fri 11-Jan-13 01:55:22

Also be aware that baby will not be entitled to free health care of you need it. I had this traveling from New Zealand to UK. I only has NZ passports for the DC at that point and immigration at the UK border made that clear to me and stamped their passports with "no recourse to public funds". DD2 needed to see a GP during our visit and I had to pay.

Whowouldfardelsbear Fri 11-Jan-13 01:57:28

Oh - and I took the DC with me through the UK passport queues with no problem. I had my UK passport and they obviously couldn't have gone through foreign nationals on their own at 3 and 1. No one batted and eyelid at that.

yes you can- we are UK citizens living in the USA and have done it a few times. no access to the NHS is right, get your insurance sorted.

coming back to the USA is great, you can use the shorter USA lines smile

anonymosity Fri 11-Jan-13 02:29:28

I think you'll be fine too. But I would travel if you can, with the birth certificate. When I returned to the UK from the US last Summer after a 4 year absence, they questioned my very small children at passport control (asked if they knew their middle names) and explained to me it was due to child trafficking...
I was quite horrified, but as the children clung to me, I was told there were "clearly" mine...and allowed through.

I did that with newborn Ds for the same reason, we had return tickets and just came to show him to the family. We went through the UK citizen line and no one said anything, they stamped his US passport without waiting in the long visitor line. Dh and I were traveling on UK passports, as we weren't US citizens at the time.

Shanghaidiva Fri 11-Jan-13 04:06:52

I also have US and UK passports and when I have been with my husband (does not have a US passport) I have asked the immigration official if he can come in the shorter queue with me (when entering US) and this was ok. Also when I was a child my mum was the only one of us without a US passport and she always came through with us as they did not want to split a family up going through immigration. Worth checking on arrival in UK if you can all go through the UK channel together.

AlohaMama Fri 11-Jan-13 05:04:47

Thanks for the reassurance everyone. Sounds like we should be ok then. Hopefully I will get the US passport back in time, in which case I'll have the birth certificate with me to take. I knew about insurance from my own perspective, so I'll be getting that anyway.

SavoyCabbage Fri 11-Jan-13 06:20:32

Take a photocopy anyway. The more paperwork the better. They won't ask for any of it if you have it all, it's always the way.

natation Fri 11-Jan-13 07:06:35

IF a group is travelling with a non EU national and the group wants to stay together through passport control at a UK airport, EVERYONE must go through the NON EU queue, if you don't and go through EU, it's up to the UKBA officer to use discretion and you through, or if it is ultra busy, you may be sent back to the NON EU queue. As you'll be travelling with with a baby who MIGHT be a British Citizen (without more info, couldn't say, just because a parent is British does NOT give an automatic right to British citizenship to any children born abroad), then if you bring a full birth certificate with you, not just on arrival to prove you are the parent, but if you are in the UK for more than 2 weeks, then you can submit your passport application in the UK with the US birth certificate, your passport details. You are allowed to do this whilst back in the UK, it is much cheaper than applying in the UK for a British passport. You just need to be in the UK during processing.

One last thing, unless you wish to basically give your money away, do not apply for a certificate of registration of a British citizen abroad (exception is if UK forces and diplomatic staff). This certificate looks like a UK birth certificate but it isn't. It does NOT speed up the issue of a British passport, it does NOT offer any advantages. It is basically for 99% of British babies born abroad, a complete waste of money. IF you choose to apply for one anyway, the consular staff should tell you this. They try and put people off now.

lljkk Fri 11-Jan-13 07:34:26

I'm very surprised about the strong advice to use non-EU queue, is that relatively new (last 5 years?)

I have been told every time (many times) that I should have gone thru the EU line with DH & 1-3-4 kids even though only DH among us had a British passport. I think it's a security issue, too, they want to see for sure which people are travelling with which people.

I still want to chicken out & use non-EU queue, but I can get a Brit passport now so might do that next time.

Once in 2002 we were given grief about baby DD only being allowed a 2 month tourist visa because she only had a USA passport with no residency stamp in it. It was implied she shouldn't be allowed in at all (?!). But we got thru, that was at a provincial airport, I bet they'd be more sensible at Heathrow. And it wasn't like anyone tracked us down to see if she left the country within a month.

Kid passports cost £50 and only last 5 years, I have tried to avoid getting any more than we have to.

It's not new lljkk I did it with mine over the years my kids are 24 19 and 8, all have traveled without a UK passport at somepoint.

natation Fri 11-Jan-13 23:21:32

llkkk, at a guess your baby was not given a tourist visa (you can't get a tourist visa for a US national!!!), but given 2 months code 1 because your baby didn't have the obligatory ILR proof in her passport if that is what her status was at the time, it is something which is supposed to be put in order before travelling in / out of the UK if you have ILR. Yes correct if your baby was given 2 months code1 1, it is a concession given to those who probably are legally in the UK but cannot prove it, it is at the discretion to allow entry to anyone in this situation.

It is discretionary that UK residents who are non EU nationals use the EU queue, if it is exceptionally busy, the risk is being sent back to the non EU queue. Yes if a mixed group, use the non EU queue. It depends entirely upon the port though, some ports don't have separate queues or the port has provided such useless signage that you cannot blame people choosing the wrong queue and deal instead in a commonsense way.

howdoo Sat 12-Jan-13 02:11:52

Every single time me and my DSs (with UK passport) and DH (with US passport) have come through UK immigration, it has been fine for all of us in the UK side. Equally, we all come back into the US on the US passports (DSs and DH) and me on the green card. When DH and I were engaged, we still came through the UK immigration into LHR, and they would just stamp his passport. And vice versa. Maybe things have tightened up.

tadjennyp Sat 12-Jan-13 02:23:10

We applied for ds2's US passport at the post office a couple of years ago and it was really fast, back within a couple of weeks. We also got more than one copy of his birth certificate (we're in Oregon) so that we could apply for his British passport at the same time. Agree with not going for the consular registration. V expensive waste of money. Also when entering the US, green card holders and US passport holders were the same queue at all the airports I've been to, so there should be no problem for you there. Can you organise a trip to the passport office while you're at home in order to get a British passport?

You don't have to pay for a certificate if you do a consular registration, that makes it a lot cheaper and you can apply for and collect the certificate in UK for under £20 Registering is one more proof of UKC for the kids when they get older, and you have died, they can't remember your place of birth/marriage or date, or all kinds of information and passports get lost. This way they know their own place and date of birth and the registration can be looked up for them and a certificate issued.

natation Sat 12-Jan-13 08:43:09

You can apply for the unnecessary consular birth registration at any time, a long time after birth if you want, both abroad (for certain countries you cannot do it at all) and in London. It costs £170 for the registration and certificate.

You cannot use this certificate to replace a birth certificate, it is not a proof of identity. It is not needed to look up the place of birth or marriage of a parent, that can be done for very little money without the need to spend £170. Indeed if you really want to have one, it can slow down an application for a British passport, as the processing time can be longer than simply issuing a passport without it! I could see the justification for having one if you have given birth in a country where the birth certificate is written in a script which is rare or where that country is unstable and might not exist in 20 years time.

Want2bSupermum Mon 14-Jan-13 01:46:10

You go through immigration with the group you are travelling with. In the UK we go through non-EU most of the time as the line is shorter and then the US line when we return.

When DD was born I let the lady know that we were flying to the UK when DD was 9/10wks old and she expidited our paperwork. We ordered 5 copies of birth certificates. DD has triple nationality (US, Canada and Denmark) and all three were applied for in the first two weeks of her life. That left me with two spare, one for our home file and one to travel with.

I applied for DD's American passport with DH the day after we got home from the hospital (I was in for five days, we filled out the paperwork while I was in labour and submitted it as soon as we had decided on her name!) and we paid the extra for fast processing. We got her passport back in two weeks. For pictures, they are not fussy - have the photographer put your baby on a white sheet on the floor and snap away. DD has her eyes firmly shut. Our local UPS store was well versed in getting baby passport pictures.

For the UK, call the passport people and see what they can do for you. They have an international number and were very helpful. I just renewed my passport using the Liverpool office and they were great. I don't think the one day appointments apply to first time passport applicants but they might have another process in place that would enable you to leave the UK with a British passport for your child.

Be aware that NHS care is for residents only. You, nor your children are entitled to use the NHS without paying for treatment. Check if your paediatrican makes themselves available. When DD had a tummy upset I was surprised to learn that our paediatrican group have 24hr phone coverage.

NatashaBee Mon 14-Jan-13 03:10:44

US citizens are meant to leave and enter the US on their US passports anyway, even if they have another country's passport. DS has a US passport, but I haven't bothered getting him a UK one for that reason - just did the UK consular birth registration as mentioned above. Seems like the only place it would be useful for him to have a UK passport to visit is Cuba smile

AndABigBirdInaPearTree Mon 14-Jan-13 18:52:14

BTW we got a passport for our (then) newborn son and had a devil of a time getting photos. We tried five different places with no luck so put a white blanket over a beanbag and took it ourselves and had it printed at RiteAid. Worked a treat and we haven't paid for passport photos of any of us since.

We just got a US passport for him then and got a UK one later. This summer we travelled to the UK and three of us were on US passports (but carried our expired UK ones) and got the two month stamp. One of us flew to LHR the others to another regional airport.

AlohaMama Mon 14-Jan-13 19:31:58

Yeah we did our own photos for ds. I think I'll just get a US passport then and multiple birth certificates. OK now just have to worry about booking flights, having a baby, and traveling 24 hours with two kids!

Mutley77 Tue 22-Jan-13 19:06:27

Yep that's fine. Although if you are staying in the US I wouldn't bother getting a UK passport as you will need to pay to renew both every five years and if you are only visiting UK for short trips you won't need the UK one. Your DC will always have the right to get a UK passport when he/she needs it but once she/he has claimed her citizenship by descent she will need an up to date passport to get in and out of country.

We have both for our DC (UK and Australian) and I have regretted the unnecessary expense although now we are going back to Australia to live we do need them to have both.

natation Tue 22-Jan-13 20:30:07

Not quite correct about a child who has had one British citizen passport having to update their passport to get in and out of the UK. You can enter and leave the UK on whatever passport you wish to use. Thousands of British citizens enter the UK each year on passports of other countries.

You don't really "claim" British citizenship by descent, either you are or you aren't and a passport is not necessary to prove it.

Personally I'd get a first British citizen passport and if you let it expire, well no problem to get a new one in 20 or 30 or 40 years time.

Natation, we didn't renew our British passports this time around as we were only going to be in the UK for a month.

Mutley77 Wed 23-Jan-13 17:26:22

I think it depends on discretion of individual entry officer. You cant legally get a visa to enter britain if you are a british national.therefore the entry officer has to be happy with your proof of citizenship and a passport is the only guaranteed way of doing this.
If you havent claimed the citizenship you can get your visa on your "other" passport perfectly legally.
Only know this from personal experience.

That may be true but four of us entered this summer using two different airports and three different flights and all of us got in fine. The officer was kind of crappy to my 16 yr old flying internationally alone for the first time but let him through without any problems other than his attitude. I'm guessing a newborn travelling with two citizen parents won't be held up.

Mutley77 Wed 23-Jan-13 17:57:48

Scsf i dont know what passport you were on. My cousins baby was threatened with being deported in that situ. The op wont have a prob though as the baby wont have claimed british citizenship and will be entering on his own us passport with the correct visa for entering the uk so that is perfectly fine.

natation Wed 23-Jan-13 18:04:23

Just ignore Mutley77.
Dual nationals can travel to the UK on either document, you're not obliged to say to the Immigration Officer you're a British citizen! So long as you enter the UK on a USA passport and ask for entry to the UK as a US national, then you'd be given 6m as a visitor, easy peasy. If however you're a dual national and Nigeria is your other nationality, well you simply cannot do it with a Nigerian passport because your require a visa and dual nationals who are British citizens cannot have entry clearance. Ok I do know someone for whom it happened once, but the ambassador ordered staff to do it, god knows why, something to do with tax (probably evasion).

We were entering on US passports.

Your cousin could have just been unlucky. My brother is also a dual national (but had only ever had US passport) and went to Denmark for the day and was detained coming back through London. The officer wouldn't let him back in even though he had his UK birth cert. a library card, bank card etc. My father had to go to London to vouch for him. In the end he let him in for 30 days very reluctantly and told him he had to do something or rather in order to stay. When my brother looked into it he was told he didn't have to do anything and the officer was just being a jobs worth and should have let him in. I think some officers are just PITNs regardless of what paperwork you have.

Mutley77 Wed 23-Jan-13 18:09:34

How rude. I am only clarifying the advice my cousin was given at an immigration desk and clarifying the legal position. Of course these things are usually ok in practice but it only has to take a grumpy immigration officer habimg a bad day to mean that the situation is not ok.
Clarity could only be provided by ukba anyway not individuals on a public forum.

IamtheZombie Wed 23-Jan-13 18:17:22

I am an American married to a British citizen.

When we travel to America he goes through the American line with me. When we return to the UK I go through the British / EU line with him.

natation Wed 23-Jan-13 18:46:17

If you write untrue things, then I will correct them. I also missed the bit about a passport being the only guaranteed way of proving citizenship as that is incorrect too. I'm just a bit too tired to list all the other options. British national doesn't exist either, it's British citizenship, ok that is being picky but that's true too, and also there is British national (overseas) British overseas citizen etc etc.

natation Wed 23-Jan-13 18:59:22

The problem with a British citizen going outside the UK for the day and returning on a US passport and claiming they are a British citizen (no a UK birth certificate, library card, driving licence, bank card etc are surprisingly not proof of British citizenship) is that if they don't actually have a British passport or a certificate of registration of birth of a British citizen abroad or a certificate of naturalisation or other form of proof of their British citizenship, then it puts the person at the border point in an impossible position. Do you have any idea how many people try to enter the UK using this same method - some having never set foot in the UK and having been provided with a complete identity kit like bank card, UK birth certificate for someone else, library card? The only solution usually is if they are believed to be genuine but cannot prove their citizenship, they would be given temporary admission to return with documents / or 2 months to sort the proof out. You really cannot call the entry officer a jobsworth, let that person into the UK and their boss finds out and they will face losing their job, it IS their job to check nationality and identity and failing to do so is the major sin. For some people, it requires quite a bit of paperwork to prove their British citizenship, such as parents' naturalisation certificates or parents' passport details, their own birth certificates. So for dual nationals living in the UK and traveling out and back, I'd say a British passport is essential. The entry officer can check who is a British citizen AND who has also a British passport, the entry officer has no authority to bestow British citizenship upon those who are indeed British but have no proof of it. For those British citizens who live abroad and are travelling to the UK and no intention of staying and on holiday, although it's perhaps a good idea to enter the UK on a British passport, if they aren't a visa national in their other nationality, eg US national, then they can indeed visit the UK as a US national on holiday.

Ok but here is the crazy thing, the big sticking point was that he didn't have a driving license because at the time he didn't drive. That was what the officer was getting hung up on. Oh and his point at the time was that the ONLY document he was required to submit to get a passport would be his birth certificate, yet that isn't enough to get him in.

It is kind of crazy they can't check who he says he is, he was renting a flat, had paid taxes all his adult life, school records etc. it should be easy for officers to check these things (but I know it isn't and don't know why).

Mutley77 Wed 23-Jan-13 19:33:20

Natation - I am not sure what is going on because I am agreeing with what you are saying.

SCSF - they can't clarify identity from a birth cert because there is no photo - hence why you need a passport as the only guaranteed way to confirm citizenship which is what I said in the first place. The reason they were asking for a driving licence as well is because that would identify him and the birth cert could then be used to confirm his citizenship.

Mutley77 Wed 23-Jan-13 19:35:53

Natation - Sorry to clarify I don't agree that legally you can enter the UK on a visa if you are a national but I do agree that you can get away with it.

natation Wed 23-Jan-13 19:46:39

You can't clarify citizenship from a UK birth certificate because even the babies born to illegal entrants to the UK get UK birth certificates, as do French, US, Russian nationals who give birth in the UK whose children do not necessarily have British citizenship at birth.

Mutley77, I'm not sure if you're using the term visa in the term it is used in the UK, a visa is an entry clearance issued only to VISA nationals, eg those nationals of designated countries and stateless persons representing 99% of visa nationals.

People arriving in the UK are not granted visas to enter, visas are granted only at visa issuing posts outside the UK to visa nationals. People arriving in the UK are either granted leave to enter the UK if non EU/EEA/Swiss or admission to the UK if EU/EEA/Swiss or are exempt completely eg NATO forces as an example. If you are a US national and British citizen travelling to the UK on holiday, if you only present your US passport as proof of identity and nationality, there is no proof presented that you are a British citizen and therefore you are granted leave to enter the UK. It would take someone an hour at the border to go and check up on someone's British citizenship, do you think David Cameron would be happy with UK entry officials doing this to all potential dual nationals?

natation Wed 23-Jan-13 19:50:30

And really really you cannot confirm British citizenship from looking at a UK driving licence and UK birth certificate. One proves a person's place of birth, the other proves they have the right to drive in the UK and other countries. I will however repeat again you can prove your British citizenship with documents other than a British passport, but a UK driving licence, UK birth certificate, UK bank card, UK library card, Blockbuster membership card (yes I'm serious there, been tried!), all these documents do not prove your British citizenship.

natation Wed 23-Jan-13 19:52:43

I'm sorry but no-one can be issued with a British passport on the basis solely of a UK birth certificate. If that were the case, then I'm going on the internet now and ordering thousands of UK birth certificates, am going to apply for British passports for all those certificates, then I'm going to get thousands of British passports yippeee.

natation Wed 23-Jan-13 19:55:02

Oh and you can go to school all your life here, pay your taxes all your life here, yet these facts have no bearing at all on your legality in the UK or your nationality either. British nationality is not based on school attendance or on whether you pay tax or work in the UK.

Mutley77 Wed 23-Jan-13 21:02:39

Lost my answer - anyway I am not sure who the citizenship info was aimed at but unfortunately I am fully versed in citizenship having naturalised, by birth and by descent all among my DH and 2 x DC's so I am fully aware that being resident in a country would indicate citizenship. I was just trying to guess at why the other poster had the experience of being asked for a driving licence.

I thought that birth certs did show what nationality a child's parent are, which would demonstrate citizenship but I am happy to stand corrected. However a certificate of naturalisation would prove citizenship but would not necessarily be accepted at border control.

I appreciate my use of the word visa may be incorrect but I still stand by my understanding that if you are a UK citizen you should be travelling in and out of the UK on a UK passport - but I can't be bothered to email the UKBA to find out as I personally don't need to know. I agree that it wouldn't be checked but it doesn't change the point as to whether or not it should be done.

Mutley77 Wed 23-Jan-13 21:03:11

Sorry that should obviously say being resident in a country wouldn't indicate citizenship.

natation Wed 23-Jan-13 21:16:39

A UK birth certificate does not prove the nationality of parents, only the country of nationality has the right to bestow nationality on its citizens, only that country's documents are acceptable for proof of a nationality. Even if UK birth certificates did prove the nationality of parents, it still wouldn't necessarily mean that the child could be a British citizen.

British citizenship is pretty complicated, it can be descended in a family, it can be due to place of birth + status of parents at birth, too many ways to list.

A certificate of naturalisation as a British citizen ALONG with a foreign passport in the same identity MIGHT be allowed as valid documents combined to allow admission to the UK of a British citizen, I think most entry officers would be happy with them together, might double check on naturalisation database if there were any doubt, which would mean a delay.

Finally there is no obligation for a British citizen to travel back and forward to the UK using a UK British citizen passport, unlike other countries such as USA. IT might be advisable if actually living in the UK, but they are not obliged. Between UK and Ireland, you don't even have to have a passport.......

I'm sorry but no-one can be issued with a British passport on the basis solely of a UK birth certificate.

No, but that is the only documentation I would have to provide if I were applying for a UK passport for the first time.

"Born or adopted in the UK

Before 1 January 1983

You must send your birth or adoption certificate."

natation Wed 23-Jan-13 21:47:32

Sorry but there is more than that as documentation required, you also have to provide details of the identity of your parents as well, sometimes people have to provide their parents' UK birth certificates, sometimes they can provide their parents' passport numbers (which leads to more documents). At a border control, the people there do not have the time to research someone's history which may lead them to be recognised as a British citizen.

For our children's first passports, as we are all UK born and parents already recognised as British, we had to provide our children's full birth certificates, the application form, details of our passports, photos which were countersigned, and finally our marriage certificate. Thankfully the IPS does the research and digs up our passport applications and copies of birth certificates so we don't physically have to provide them, but indeed they are needed.

information yes, but not documents... unless you were naturalised or born abroad (without being adopted) or born after 1983 or your parents were born after 1982 or.... or... or...

none of which applies to me... or my brother.

"that is the only documentation I would have to provide if I were applying for a UK passport for the first time"

I said nothing about your kids.

GinandJag Wed 23-Jan-13 21:54:26

You can do both passports in parallel - you simply get several copies of the birth certificate.

natation Wed 23-Jan-13 22:06:20

I think you might find you will have to provide proof of your current nationality too, that will be a document. The adoption certificate does not prove your nationality, only identity.

natation Wed 23-Jan-13 22:15:55

ok anyone born in the UK before 1983 or adopted before 1983, they are all automatically British citizens, to prove it the identity of parents will be verified and that is documentation that someone working as an entry officer at the border could not do, it takes time research the registers of births/deaths/marriages - the death registry will be checked, IPS do research into that to check the holder of the birth certificate is stil living. You will also need to provide photos. On the border, you really cannot hand in a UK birth certificate pre-dating 1983 and expect that is sufficient for entry to the UK.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now