Who is a British protected person?
This page explains what a British protected person is and what rights that status gives them. It also gives an overview of the complex rules that govern who may be a British protected person.
If you are not already a British protected person, there are very few circumstances in which it is possible for you to register as one.
If you need more detailed guidance on whether or not you qualify as a British protected person, please contact us.
What does the term mean?
The term started to be used in the second half of the 19th century when Britain extended its protection to people and places outside the British Empire. The places given British protection were:
- protected states;
- mandated territories; and
- trust territories. (See protectorates)
People born in these countries became known as British protected persons and this gradually became a form of British nationality. Until 1949 the status was given by royal prerogative. In 1949 the status became a statutory one, granted according to defined rules and available only to people who had no other nationality or way of obtaining one.
Am I a British protected person?
From 1 January 1983, the following categories of people became, or were able to become, British protected persons:
- citizens or nationals of Brunei under any law in Brunei that provided for citizenship or nationality (but this status was subsequently lost when Brunei became a fully sovereign state);
- anyone who, immediately before 1 January 1983, was a British protected person; and
- anyone who would otherwise be born stateless, on or after 1 January 1983, in the United Kingdom or an overseas territory if, at the time of their birth, their mother or father was a British protected person.
In most cases, British protected persons lost that status when they gained any other nationality or citizenship, including British citizenship, British overseas territories citizenship or British Overseas citizenship.
Also, in most cases, British protected persons lost that status when the territory they were connected with became independent and they became a citizen of the newly independent country (whether at independence or later on).
What rights does a British protected person have?
British protected persons have limited rights in terms of living and working in the United Kingdom.
- can hold a British passport in that status;
- are regarded as British nationals; and
- can receive consular assistance and protection from United Kingdom diplomatic posts.
- are subject to immigration controls and do not have any right to live or work in the United Kingdom without those controls;
- are not able to vote in elections in the United Kingdom;
- are not able to hold some public offices in the United Kingdom; and
- are not considered to be United Kingdom nationals by the European Community.