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Right of Abode in the United Kingdom

There could be times when British Citizens need to know how to prove right of abode for the United Kingdom. This guide explains what your right of abode means and how to apply for a certificate of entitlement.

CITIZEN RIGHT OF ABODE: It applies to all citizens for whom there are no immigration restrictions to live or work in the UK. In such cases:

  1. You do not need a visa to enter into and stay in the United Kingdom.
  2. The amount of time you can spend in the United Kingdom has no restrictive limits.

All British citizens have automatic right of abode for the United Kingdom. In some cases, the same status also applies to Commonwealth citizens.

How to prove you have right of abode in the UK? Use your UK passport if it describes you as a British citizen. The same also applies to any British subject with the legal right of abode. Another option is to apply for a ‘certificate of entitlement‘.

Note: There will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens living in the UK until 2021. You and your family can apply for ‘settled status’ to continue living in the UK after June 2021. The scheme will open fully by March 2019.

Commonwealth Citizenship

Apart from having British citizenship, there are other circumstances that provide the right to live and work in the United Kingdom. Parentage or marriage can also meet the immigration rules for right of abode.

UK Right of Abode Rules for Parents

All the following must apply to meet the requirements:

  1. One parent was born in the UK and a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies at the time you were born or adopted.
  2. You were a Commonwealth citizen on the 31st of December 1982.
  3. From the 31st of December 1982 you did not stop being a Commonwealth citizen at any time (even for a temporary period).

Right of Abode UK Rules for Marriage

You must be a female Commonwealth citizen to get the right to abode through marriage. In this case you must also have:

  1. Prove Right of Abode in the United KingdomBeen married to a person who had right of abode before the 1st of January in 1983.
  2. From the 31st of December 1982 you did not stop being a Commonwealth citizen at any time (even for a temporary period).

There are exclusions to this rule. You may not qualify if your spouse has another living wife or a widow who:

  • Is in the United Kingdom or has been in the UK at any time since the marriage. (An exception applies if they came as a visitor, entered the country illegally, or only have temporary permission to stay).
  • Has permission to enter the UK because of her marriage or a certificate of entitlement to the right of abode.

Even so, you may still qualify if:

  • You entered into the UK while married and before the 1st of August 1988 (even if your husband has other wives in the UK).
  • You have been in the UK since your marriage and at that time were your husband’s only wife to have legally entered the UK or got permission to do so.

Note: Read further information on the Windrush scheme for Commonwealth citizens. There is a different way to prove your right to live in the United Kingdom for those who are part of the ‘Windrush generation’.

Certificate of Entitlement to the Right of Abode

Having a certificate of entitlement proves the right of abode in the United Kingdom. In fact, it’s placed inside the pages of a passport. Thus, you would need to apply for a new certificate any time the passport expires.

There are several different ways to apply for a certificate of entitlement. It would depend most on whether you are applying from inside or outside the United Kingdom.

Note: Having a British passport means you cannot get a certificate of entitlement. The same exclusion applies if you have a valid certificate of entitlement in another foreign passport.

Applying within the United Kingdom

Use the form ROA ‘Application for certificate showing right of abode‘ to apply in the UK. Read the guidance notes and then you should send the completed form to UK Visas and Immigration. There will be several supporting documents to include with your application.

Department 1 UKVI
The Capital
New Hall Place
Liverpool L3 9PP

Right of Abode Fees

Note: The current cost of a certificate of entitlement is £372 when issued inside the United Kingdom. The processing time takes up to 6 months to get a decision once UKVI receive the form and support documents. You can also apply online.

Support Documentation for Application

  1. You need a valid passport or a travel document. If the United Kingdom did not issue it your document must:
    1. Have immigration stamps to prove you are living in this country (or)
    2. Contain a previous right of abode certificate of entitlement.
  2. Two (2) photographs for passports that got taken of your face within the last 6 months.
  3. Certain documentation proving you have right of abode for the UK. The guidance notes clarify which ones you need.

Note: You cannot send photocopies so you need to send the original documents. You must give a valid reason if you are unable to send your birth certificate or marriage certificate.

In most cases they will return your documents by 2nd class postal methods. Otherwise, you need to include a prepaid self-addressed Royal Mail special delivery. It must be the correct size if you use a recorded delivery envelope.

Applicants can contact the nationality contact centre for urgent cases. An example could be if you need your documents returning without a delay. But, it is not an enquiry office so do not use it to check on the application progress.

Nationality Contact Centre
Email: [email protected]

Right of Abode Application Outside UK

You must use the ‘Apply for a UK visa‘ service when applying from outside the United Kingdom. It is an online process.

Note: The current cost of a certificate of entitlement is £388 when issued outside the United Kingdom.

Apply from North Korea

Citizens who live in North Korea cannot apply online. Applying from North Korea means you must:

  1. Download the application form and guidance notes. The GOV.UK website has further help and advice on filling in the form.
  2. The official instructions also inform you where to take the completed form.
Certificate of Entitlement Refusal

Note: As a general rule, United Kingdom Visas and Immigration do not refund the application fees.

Thus, the cost will not get refunded if your application gets refused. This applies even if you do not qualify for right of abode or you fail to send in enough evidence to support the claim.

Certificate of Entitlement Appeals

UKVI will inform you how to appeal if your application gets rejected. But, rejected applications received on or after the 6th of April 2015 lose this right of appeal.

Check GOV.UK if you think UKVI failed to make the decision in line with the law or their policy. In some cases you can get an application reconsidered.

Citizen Right of Abode in the United Kingdom