What is 'Right of Abode'?

A person with the Right of Abode has the right to live, work and study in Britain and Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom, without any immigration restrictions, like a UK born British citizen. It is a residual status reluctantly kept for historic reasons, with complex rules which few immigration practitioners understand. 

Right of Abode can be evidenced in a non-British passport with a “Certificate of Entitlement” sticker. This used to be called a “Certificate of Patriality”.

Right of Abode is something that you either have or you do not have.  Today, it is only held by:

  • a British citizen, or
  • a Commonwealth citizen who on 31 Dec 1982 had Right of Abode and has since remained a Commonwealth citizen

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, which is the focus of this page.

A Commonwealth citizen born before 1983 and who has remained since 1 January 1983 a Commonwealth citizen, would today have right of abode if :

  • Their father or mother was born in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, or before 31 March 1922 any part of Ireland;
  • They were married to a man, before 1983, in the category above or a UK citizen with right of abode (e.g. UK born grandparent); or
  • They were married to a man, before 1949, in the category above or a British subject with a UK born grandparent.

It does not matter if the husband later died or the marriage ended. Commonwealth countries include Australia, Canada, India, Jamaica, Kenya, New Zealand, Zimbabwe. For the above purposes, Pakistan and South Africa do not qualify.


How could I apply?

Right of Abode can be claimed through many different routes under the 1971 Immigration Act. Whilst some claims are straightforward, there are more complex routes to obtaining Right of Abode through marriage or in some cases historic residency before 1983, thus passing the Right of Abode to any children born post-1983. 

In some cases, a person with Right of Abode is eligible to become a British citizen by registration under laws enacted after 2001. In other cases of Right of Abode, you may not be able to apply for a passport but could qualify for Naturalisation after a period of residency in the UK.

Some Right of Abode applications can also be done in cases where there could be an urgent need to travel. or when there a complex claim to British citizenship or when certain countries of origin need to provide a higher standard of evidence to Her Majesty's Passport Office, thus potentially greatly extending an application process. In any of these cases, we would be able to prepare and submit the applications on your behalf for Right of Abode.

We have found routes possible for passports and Right of Abode through colonial links, Crown service, specific designated services, double descent in the maternal and paternal line. In rare cases triple descent for colonial links.

Passportia can find out if you have Right of Abode (or qualify for British citizenship), prepare and submit your application and get you a Certificate of Entitlement (or British citizenship and a British Passport) with the best possible chances and least hassle. Due to recent changes in the law, people who have Right of Abode might now qualify for British citizenship.

How Passportia Works

Our preliminary service entails completing a comprehensive evaluation and report, before preparing any application for the relevant authorities. Here, we ask you, the client, to provide the necessary details of your ancestry for us to determine your eligibility within 10 working days.

In the event of the evaluation yielding a positive outcome, we will email the comprehensive report plus a proposal and quotation to you.  Our services aim to make the process of application as simple as possible. You will be working closely with our dedicated British caseworking department to ensure the success of your submission. 

As part of our representation, you will be issued with a personalised document checklist, and we will guide you through your application process. Following the decision by the relevant government department, you would receive your Right of Abode.

Our services are of an excellent standard and we have a very high satisfaction rating from past customers (see our Google reviews). Our work is normally done to a fixed price quotation. 

Don't hesitate, get in touch with us by completing the form below!


  • A citizenship law specialist
  • Successful with complex claims
  • Supporting multiple countries
  • Fast, flexible and precise

My new British Passport has arrived. I just wanted to thank you for your professional service and efficiency. Mission accomplished now.

R.D. - Cape Town , South Africa