Right of Abode

Prove you have right to live and work in the UK without Immigration restrictions

Contact Us

To have right of abode means you may legally live and work in the UK without immigration restrictions. This means that you will not need visa to enter the UK nor is there a limit to the amount of time you can live and work in the UK. 

All British citizens automatically have right of abode. Some Commonwealth citizens may qualify too. You prove your right of abode through your UK passport. If you do not have this, you will need a certificate of entitlement. 

How we can help 

In some situations, proving your right to abode can be complex. Our experienced immigration specialists understand the processes, the legal requirements and the issues. Herrington Carmichael will support you every step of the way.

Right of Abode FAQs

What are the requirements for right to abode for Commonwealth citizens?

You may gain right of abode through either your parents or you were/are married to a person with right of abode. 

Your parents had right of abode

You will have right of abode if all of the following apply:

  • one of your parents were born in the UK and a citizen of the UK and colonies when your were born/adopted
  • on the 31st of December 1982, you were a Commonwealth citizen
  • You did not stop being a Commonwealth citizen after 31 December 1982

Through marriage

The marriage route only applies if you are a female Commonwealth citizen. All of the following must be true:

  • you were married to someone with right of abode before 1 January 1983
  • you have not stopped being a Commonwealth citizen at any point after 31 December 1982

If the person you were married to has another wife or widow who meets the below criteria, you will usually not get right of abode:

  • is in the UK, or has been since her marriage (unless illegally)
  • has a certificate of entitlement to right of abode or enter the UK due to her marriage

You may still have right of abode if:

  • you entered the UK before 1 August 1988 while married, even if your husband has other wives in the UK
  • you’ve only been in the UK since your marriage and at the time were the only wife to your husband to have legally entered the UK.
What is a certificate of entitlement?

If you meet the criteria for right of abode, you can apply for a certificate of entitlement that will go in your passport. You will need to apply for a new certificate each time your passport expires. 

You cannot get a certificate of entitlement if you have a British passport or if you have a valid certificate in another foreign passport. 

How much will it cost?

The fees charged by Home Office can be found on their official website here

How long does it take to get a decision? 

From inside the UK:
It usually takes about 8 weeks from applying online and sending the required documents via post. If approved, your certificate will be sent with your decision letter. 

From outside the UK:
It can take about 3 weeks from attending an appointment at a visa application centre. If approved, your certificate will be sent with your decision letter.

Can my family/dependants apply?

Your spouse, partner and other dependants will need their own application if they meet the requirements.

Will I need to pay the IHS surcharge?

No. You will no longer need to pay the healthcare surcharge.

What happens if my application is denied?

If it was denied due to lack of supporting evidence, your application fee will not be refunded. 

You can appeal the decision, this will be explained if your application is rejected. You cannot appeal if your application was denied on or after 6 April 2015. 

You can also apply to have your application reconsidered if you think UKVI did not make the decision based on their law or policy. 

We have experience in dealing with appeals. Please get in touch so we can chat about how to best appeal your denied application.

I am applying from North Korea. What do I do?

If you are applying from in North Korea, you will need to download the application form and follow the guidance to complete it. And then find out where to take your completed form. 

Meet the Team

Related expertise

Best Law Firms 2024

Herrington Carmichael has once again been named in the Times Best Law Firms. We were first listed in 2023 and have once again made the Best Law Firms list for 2024.  


Best Law Firm 2024