What is a Certificate of Entitlement?
A certificate of entitlement is a document placed in your passport that proves you have right of abode in the UK.
Having right of abode means that you’re allowed to live and work in the UK without being subject to immigration control or restrictions. This means that you don’t need a visa to come to the UK, nor is there any time limit on how long you can spend in the UK.
All British citizens and some Commonwealth citizens have right of abode in the UK, which they can prove by presenting a valid British passport describing the holder as a British citizen or British subject with the right to abode.
However, those who don’t have a British passport may apply for a certificate of entitlement to prove their right of abode instead.
- What is a Certificate of Entitlement?
- Who Has Right of Abode?
- Which Commonwealth Citizens Have Right of Abode?
- Who Can Apply for a Certificate of Entitlement?
- How to Apply for a Certificate of Entitlement
- What Documents Do I Need to Apply?
- What are the Fees and Processing Times?
- What Happens After I Apply?
- How Long Are Certificates of Entitlement Valid For?
- How Can IAS Help?
Who Has Right of Abode?
All British citizens automatically have right of abode in the UK.
If you’re a Commonwealth citizen, you may also have right of abode, but only under certain circumstances.
These include if you have a parent who was born in the UK and is a citizen of the UK and colonies, or if you’re a female who married a male with right to abode.
Note that these only apply if you were a Commonwealth citizen on 31 December 1982 or got married before 1 January 1983, respectively. This is because of the British Nationality Act, which came into force on 1 January 1983 and changed certain rules concerning British citizenship and the right to abode.
There are also a number of different situations and scenarios for British citizens depending on whether they became a British citizen before or after 1 January 1983.
Who Can Apply for a Certificate of Entitlement?
You can apply for a certificate of entitlement if you are a British or Commonwealth citizen with right to abode in the UK in accordance with the guidance above.
However, you will not be eligible for a certificate of entitlement if you have either:
- A UK passport describing you as a British citizen, or as a British subject with the right of abode in the UK
- A valid certificate of entitlement in another foreign passport
The Home Office will check with Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO) to confirm that you don’t have either of the above when you apply for a certificate of entitlement.
How to Apply for a Certificate of Entitlement
Applicants outside the UK must apply for a certificate of entitlement online.
Applicants inside the UK, the Channel Islands or Isle of Man can apply either online or by post. However, it’s recommended that you submit your application online, as postal applications usually take much longer to process.
When you apply for a certificate of entitlement, you will have to provide your personal details and documents that prove you have right of abode. You will then need to pay the application fee.
What Documents Do I Need to Apply?
You will normally need to provide the following documents with your certificate of entitlement application:
- A valid passport or travel document
- Passports issued abroad which are being submitted for an application made in the UK must contain immigration stamps showing that the passport holder is resident in the UK
- Two passport size photographs taken no more than six months before the date of application
- Documents establishing your right to abode in the UK. Depending on your situation, this may include:
- Citizenship registration or naturalisation certificate
- Birth certificate of the applicant and/or parents
- Marriage certificate
- Evidence of family members’ or spouse’s right to abode
The specific documents you will need to provide depend on the following:
- If you’re a British or Commonwealth citizen
- When you became a citizen
- How you became a citizen
- Where you became a citizen
What are the Fees and Processing Times?
If you’re applying from inside the UK, certificates of entitlement cost £372 to obtain.
If you’re applying from outside the UK, certificates of entitlement cost £388 to obtain.
Applications for certificates of entitlement generally take around six months to process, though this may vary depending on how busy the service is.
What Happens After I Apply?
The Home Office will process your application and establish your eligibility for a certificate of entitlement.
If your application is approved, you will have your certificate of entitlement placed in your passport or travel document.
If your application is refused, you will have your documents returned to you. You will not be refunded your application fee.
Your application may have been refused because you are not eligible for right of abode, or you did not supply enough evidence to support your claim for right of abode.
However, you may be able to have your application reconsidered if you believe that it was wrongly refused.
How Long Are Certificates of Entitlement Valid For?
Certificates of entitlement are only valid as long as the passport or travel documents they’re attached to are valid.
If your travel document or passport expires, you will have to submit a new application for a certificate of entitlement to be placed in your new passport or travel document.
In addition, certificates of entitlement issued after 21 December 2006 may be revoked if you’re found to be no longer eligible to hold one. For example, you may have your certificate of entitlement revoked if:
- You do not have a right of abode in the UK
- You hold a UK passport describing you as a British citizen or a British subject with the right of abode
- You have another passport with a valid certificate of entitlement
- Your right of abode is restricted because you are polygamously married to a man with the right of abode and another wife has already been issued with a certificate of entitlement
- An order has been made to deprive you of your right of abode
How Can IAS Help?
A certificate of entitlement is an important document that proves your right to live and work in the UK indefinitely without being subject to any immigration restrictions.
If you need to apply for a certificate of entitlement, it’s essential that you have all the information needed to successfully submit your application without any issues or difficulties.
IAS can help. We are expert legal advisers specialising in UK immigration law, with years’ worth of experience helping individuals with their immigration issues. We can help establish your eligibility for a certificate of entitlement, assist you throughout the application process, and even liaise with the Home Office to keep track of your application as it gets processed.
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