A British protected person (BPP) is a member of a class of British nationality associated with former protectorates, protected states, and territorial mandates and trusts under British control. Individuals with this nationality are British nationals, but are neither British nor Commonwealth citizens. Nationals of this class are subject to immigration controls when entering the United Kingdom and do not have the automatic right of abode there or any other country.

This nationality was created to accommodate residents of certain areas that were under British protection or administration but not formally incorporated as Crown dominions. About 1,200 British protected persons currently hold active British passports with this status and enjoy consular protection when travelling abroad.[1] However, individuals who only hold BPP nationality are effectively stateless as they are not guaranteed the right to enter the country in which they are nationals.


Portions of the British Empire were not incorporated as Crown territory proper and instead considered foreign soil under British suzerainty. These included protectorates, protected states, League of Nations mandates, and United Nations trust territories. Because they were foreign lands, birth in one of these areas did not automatically confer British subject status. Instead, most people associated with these territories were designated as British protected persons.[2]

In the 19th century, the term referred to any member of the native populations of protectorates or to a subject of protected state rulers. Over time, it became a substantial form of nationality.[2] Eligibility requirements for the status were initially not well defined.[3] The designation was given to anyone who was considered to owe allegiance to a local ruler of a state under British protection or who was indigenous to a protectorate without local government.[2] More substantial requirements were codified in 1934; individuals born in protected territories who had no other nationality at birth or those born abroad who would otherwise be stateless to a BPP father, who was himself born in a protected territory, became British protected persons.[4] The status was granted solely by royal prerogative until it was first statutorily defined in the British Nationality Act 1948. As Britain withdrew from its remaining overseas possessions during decolonisation, some protected persons remained BPPs despite the independence of their territories.[2] After almost all protected territories had become independent, Parliament severely restricted acquisition of BPP status in 1978.[5]

The several types of protected territories were differentiated by how their administrative structures were established:

Acquisition and loss

See also: British nationality law

Countries entirely or partially composed of former protectorates and trust territories that current British protected persons may originate from (includes the British Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean, east of Papua New Guinea)
Countries entirely or partially composed of former protectorates and trust territories that current British protected persons may originate from (includes the British Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean, east of Papua New Guinea)

Becoming a British protected person is effectively no longer possible.[7] Registration as a BPP is currently only permitted for individuals who have always been stateless and were born to at least one BPP parent in the United Kingdom or an overseas territory.[8] Prior to decolonisation, individuals born in a protected territory and held no other nationality at birth were British protected persons. The status was transferable by descent to children of BPP fathers (but not mothers) who did not have any other nationality following independence of their territories[9] until 16 August 1978.[5] BPP status was granted in addition to other British nationality classes; an individual can be both a British citizen and a British protected person.[2]

Retaining BPP status past the end of British jurisdiction over a protected territory is dependent on the type of territory it was. Persons connected with former protectorates or trust territories may remain BPPs if they did not acquire citizenship of the relevant countries, while all who were associated with former protected states or mandated territories automatically had the status revoked on independence.[2] For those associated with the British Solomon Islands, BPP retention has the added requirement of never having possessed any other nationality. Additionally, Citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies who were solely connected with that protectorate lost CUKC status on independence and became BPPs instead.[10]

British protected person status is automatically lost if an individual acquires any other nationality or citizenship after 16 August 1978, including other British nationality classes. It can also be voluntarily relinquished by a declaration made to the Home Secretary, provided that an individual already possesses or intends to acquire another nationality. BPP status may be deprived if it was fraudulently acquired. There is no path to restore BPP status once lost.[11]

Rights and privileges

British protected persons are exempted from obtaining a visa or entry certificate when visiting the United Kingdom for less than six months.[12] When travelling in other countries, they may seek British consular protection.[13] BPPs are also eligible to serve in non-reserved Civil Service posts[14] and enlist in the British Armed Forces.[15]

BPPs may become British citizens by registration, rather than naturalisation, after residing in the United Kingdom for more than five years and possessing indefinite leave to remain for more than one year. Registration confers citizenship otherwise than by descent, meaning that children born outside of the UK to those successfully registered will be British citizens by descent. Individuals who become British citizens automatically lose their BPP status.[16] BPPs who do not hold and have not lost any other nationality on or after 4 July 2002 are entitled to register as British citizens.[17]


BPPs who hold no other nationality are de facto stateless because they do not have a right to enter the country that claims them as nationals.[18] The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 allowed these individuals to register as British citizens, after which statelessness was generally resolved for people who were solely BPPs.[17]

United Kingdom

See also: Right of abode in the United Kingdom

Unlike members of other British nationality classes, British protected persons are not Commonwealth citizens.[19] BPPs are subject to immigration control and have neither the right of abode nor the right to work in the United Kingdom.[13] They are required to pay a "health surcharge" to access National Health Service benefits when residing in the UK for longer than six months.[20] They do not have the right to vote in UK elections and are ineligible to stand for election to the House of Commons and local government.[21] They are additionally barred from being sitting members in the House of Lords.[19]

European Union

Before the United Kingdom withdrew from the European Union on 31 January 2020, full British citizens were European Union citizens.[22] British protected persons have never been EU citizens and did not enjoy freedom of movement in other EU countries.[23] They were,[24] and continue to be, exempted from obtaining visas when visiting the Schengen Area.[22]



  1. ^ FOI Letter on Passports.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Protectorates and Protected States" (PDF). Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  3. ^ Pollack 1963, p. 144.
  4. ^ "No. 34051". The London Gazette. 18 May 1934. p. 3194.
  5. ^ a b The British Protectorates, Protected States and Protected Persons Order 1978.
  6. ^ "Mandated and Trust Territories" (PDF). Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  7. ^ INPD Letter on BOCs, at para. 19
  8. ^ "British protected persons" (PDF). 1.0. Home Office. 14 July 2017. Archived (PDF) from the original on 29 March 2019. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  9. ^ The British Protectorates, Protected States and Protected Persons Order 1974.
  10. ^ Solomon Islands Act 1978.
  11. ^ "Nationality policy: renunciation of all types of British nationality" (PDF). 3.0. Home Office. 30 January 2018. Archived (PDF) from the original on 8 January 2019. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  12. ^ "Check if you need a UK visa". gov.uk. Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  13. ^ a b "Types of British nationality: British protected person". gov.uk. Government of the United Kingdom. Archived from the original on 19 August 2018. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  14. ^ "Civil Service Nationality Rules" (PDF). Cabinet Office. November 2007. p. 6. Archived (PDF) from the original on 21 August 2018. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  15. ^ "Nationality". British Army. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  16. ^ "Guide B(OTA): Registration as a British citizen" (PDF). Home Office. March 2019. Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 March 2019. Retrieved 29 March 2019.
  17. ^ a b Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.
  18. ^ Kaur [2001] C-192/99, at para. 17
  19. ^ a b British Nationality Act 1981.
  20. ^ "UK announces health surcharge". gov.uk. Government of the United Kingdom. 27 March 2015. Archived from the original on 11 December 2018. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  21. ^ Representation of the People Act 1983.
  22. ^ a b Regulation (EU) No 2019/592.
  23. ^ Kaur [2001] C-192/99, at para. 19–27
  24. ^ Regulation (EU) No 2018/1806 Annex II.




Case law