The Passport Office has experienced severe delays in 2014 as the processing of applications made overseas has been centralised in the UK. British citizens living overseas whose British passports are expiring could experience difficulties in getting their renewal applications processed.  In suitable cases, applying for a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode could be a practical alternative.  

by Bruce Mennell | | Blog

The Passport Office has experienced severe delays in 2014 as the processing of applications made overseas has been centralised in the UK. British citizens living overseas whose British passports are expiring could experience difficulties in getting their renewal applications processed.  In suitable cases, applying for a Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode could be a practical alternative.  

Summer of Chaos

 

HM Passport Office has been subjected to withering attacks from senior political figures since it moved the processing of applications for British passports from overseas to the UK in January this year.  Previously, it was generally possible for local British posts to issue UK passports.   By June 2014 a massive backlog of applications for UK passports from overseas had built up.  Speaking on 16th September 2014, the head of the Home Affairs Committee, Keith Vaz MP, described it as a 'summer of chaos', in which at one point half a million applications were pending.  He attributed the delays to a lack of management, lack of forecasting, and the decision to move applications for overseas British citizens to the UK.  Meanwhile, the Passport Office has made a profit of £124m over the last two years.  There are calls to compensate applicants who were forced by the crisis to pay extra for the premium service. 

Certificates of Entitlement

An alternative solution for British dual nationals may be to apply for a Certificate of Entitlement to the right of abode.  This is a stamp placed in a non-British passport and confirms that the holder is entitled to enter the UK without being subject to immigration control.   The Certificate of Entitlement has two main advantages to British citizens, compared to applying for a British passport.  

  1. It may allow the British citizen to retain the passport of another country which is less tolerant of multiple nationality than the UK. Although for historical reason the UK permits dual nationality for British citizens, other countries may not permit their nationals to hold British passports.
  2. A Certificate of Entitlement can be obtained much quicker than a British passport. This is because the application is made locally to a visa application centre in the country of application.  In contrast, British passports are issued by the Passport Office in the UK.  In addition to causing delay, because the Passport Office insists on receiving original documents, this means that applicants must send their potentially irreplaceable documents in the post to the UK.

There is an important limitation upon a Certificate of Entitlement, which is that unlike a British passport describing the holder as a British citizen, it does not entitle the holder to visa free travel in other countries such as Europe and the USA.  So it is more likely to be a solution for those whose objective is to enter and remain in the UK.   Alexander Finch Senior Adviser, Passportia (c) Passportia Limited


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