Commonwealth citizens with the right of abode
This page explains which Commonwealth citizens have the right of abode in the UK.
For an explanation of right of abode, see the Right of abode page.
If you are not a British citizen, you may still have the right of abode if, on 31 December 1982, you were:
- a Commonwealth citizen with a parent who, at the time of your birth or legal adoption, was a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies because they were born in the UK; or
- a female Commonwealth citizen who was, or had been, married to a man who had the right of abode. You must have been married to him before 1 January 1983.
Restrictions on claiming right of abode
If you were not a Commonwealth citizen on 31 December 1982, or you stopped being a Commonwealth citizen (even temporarily) at any time after that date, you will not have right of abode.
For example, citizens of South Africa and Pakistan do not have right of abode, because those countries left the Commonwealth before 1983 and joined it again afterwards.
If you gained the right of abode through marriage (see above), you will not be given a certificate of entitlement to right of abode if another living wife or widow of the same man:
- is (or has been at any time since her marriage) in the UK, unless she entered the UK illegally, as a visitor, or with temporary permission to stay; or
- has been given a certificate of entitlement to right of abode or permission to enter the country because of her marriage.
These restrictions do not apply if:
- you entered the UK as a wife before 1 August 1988, even if other wives of the same man are in the UK; or
- you have been in the UK at any time since your marriage, and at that time you were that man's only wife to have entered the UK or to have been given permission to do so.
This category applies mainly to people whose mothers were born in the UK but were not able to pass on their citizenship to their children born before 1983. If you were born between 7 February 1961 and 31 December 1982 and your mother was born in the UK, you may be able to register as a British citizen. For more information, see the Children born to Children born to British mothers before 1983 page.