How can I get the right of abode?

Right of abode is something you either already have or don’t have. Only British citizens, and certain Commonwealth citizens born before 1983, have the right of abode. From 1983 the only way to gain (for the first time) the right of abode is by becoming a British citizen. However many Commonwealth citizens who acquired right of abode before 1983 remain unaware of their entitlement.

What is the use of the right of abode?

The right of abode allows you to live and work in the UK without restrictions. It also allows you to sponsor family members to join you in the UK (subject to the requirements in the immigration rules). However, in order to excercise that right you need official proof of that status – see below.

How long does the right of abode last for?

Right of abode through British citizenship lasts as long as the citizenship is retained. British citizenship can be lost through formal deprivation proceedings or by voluntary renunciation.

Right of abode through Commonwealth citizenship lasts as long as the person remains a citizen of a Commonwealth country (to be exact, a country listed in Schedule 1 of the British Nationality Act 1981). If the country leaves the Commonwealth and rejoins, or they lose and regain their citizenship of it, the person will no longer have right of abode. In addition, right of abode of a non-British citizen can be revoked by the Home Secretary. There is no prior notification, and there is a limited right of appeal.

Do I have the right of abode?

Many people have right of abode without realising it. These are some clues that you may have right of abode.

    • At least one of your parents or grandparents was born in the UK.
    • You were adopted and at least one of your adoptive parents was born in the UK.
    • You were married to a British man before 1983.

The detailed requirements are complex. Our online evaluation form is designed to help uncover if you have a useful British nationality or right of abode.

How do I prove my right of abode?

A British citizen (or British subject with right of abode) can prove that right of abode by producing either a UK passport describing the person as such, or a non-UK passport containing a certificate of entitlement. A Commonwealth citizen with the right of abode can prove that status by producing a current passport containing a certificate of entitlement. No other form of evidence works at a port of entry to the UK. A certificate of entitlement can in certain circumstances be cancelled, but if the person actually has right of abode this should not be affected.

Can I rely on the certificate of entitlement in my old passport?

No. Since 2008 the certificate must be endorsed in a current passport. A certificate of entitlement is only valid for as long as the passport is valid. It therefore makes sense to apply for a certificate of entitlement using a passport that will be valid for a long time.

How do I renew my certificate of entitlement?

By a fresh application to the Home Office or UK High Commission or Embassy. Evidence must be submitted to support the claim to right of abode, even if a certificate was issued previously.