Right of Abode

What is the right of abode?

The right of abode is a statutory right, which a person either has or does not have. There are two categories of people who currently have the right of abode:

  • British citizens or,
  • Certain Commonwealth citizens who had the right of abode immediately before 1 January 1983 and who have not, since then, ceased to be Commonwealth citizens.

To prove the Right of Abode a person is required to present one of the following forms of evidence:

  • UK passport describing them as a British citizen; or
  • UK passport describing them as a British subject with the right of abode in the UK; or
  •  A Certificate of Entitlement to the right of abode.

Why prove your Right of Abode?

The reason for providing these details is to alert those applicants who hold British citizenship and would like to travel to the United Kingdom but don’t hold a current valid British passport. It is also meant to alert persons who potentially have Right of Abode as a Commonwealth citizen and wish to apply for a Certificate of Entitlement.

The Certificate of Entitlement is perfect for applicant’s who have never held a British passport before, who are eligible for one however don’t have the means or time to apply for the British passport at present. It is also ideal for Commonwealth citizens who are eligible, as they can use this permit to enter the UK, where they will have the right to live and work.

What is the Certificate of Entitlement?

The Certificate of Entitlement is a form of visa endorsed into your current valid passport (Non-British passport). The advantage of applying for this is that it can be done via the regular visa application routes in your respective resident country. The Certificate of Entitlement is an alternative route available to British citizens who have never held a British passport before but cannot apply for one due to inadequate documents or due to time restraints.  

Commonwealth Citizens and the Right of Abode

To qualify as a Commonwealth citizen who had the right of abode immediately before 1 January 1983 and who have not, since then, ceased to be Commonwealth citizen. Do note; South Africa left the Commonwealth in May 1961; however, this only took effect as of the 31st of May 1962. South Africa then re-joined the Commonwealth in 1994. Therefore, South African’s in general, would generally not meet the criteria in this regard, as you would have ceased to be a Commonwealth citizen during 1962-1994. Australia, for instance, has remained a Commonwealth country since 1901.

Women who are Commonwealth citizens and who were married to a man with right of abode, could potentially also qualify. You must have been married since before 1983, and your husband must have held Right of Abode before 1983 as well.

How Breytenbachs can help you

Breytenbachs have a team of specialist specialising in UK Nationality and Citizenship issues. If you want to find out whether you qualify for the Right of Abode, or have any other citizenship issue, that you would like to discuss please contact us.