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Right of Abode

Right of Abode

Having right of abode means you’re allowed to live or work in the UK without any immigration restrictions, which means:

  • you will not need a visa to come to the UK
  • there’s no limit on the length of time you can spend in the country

All British citizens automatically have right of abode in the UK.

Some Commonwealth citizens may also have right of abode.

You can prove you have right of abode if you have a UK passport describing you as a British citizen or British subject with right of abode.

Otherwise you need to apply for a ‘certificate of entitlement’.

Commonwealth citizens

(If you’re part of the ‘Windrush generation’ (also known as ‘Windrush cases’), there’s a different way to prove your right to live in the UK. Please get in touch with our friendly team for further guidance.)

You may have right of abode in the UK either because of your parents or because you are or were married to someone with right of abode.

If you are unsure of your position or would like to ensure that your application is handled by a knowledgeable specialist, get in touch with one of our friendly team members now on 0203 384 4389 to find out exactly how we can assist you to get it right first time round, saving you time, money and the heartache of being refused.

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Further Information


You have right of abode if all the following apply:

  • one of your parents was born in the UK and a citizen of the United Kingdom and colonies when you were born or adopted
  • you were a Commonwealth citizen on 31 December 1982
  • you did not stop being a Commonwealth citizen (even temporarily) at any point after 31 December 1982


You can only get right to abode through marriage if you’re a female Commonwealth citizen.

You must have:

  • been married to someone with right of abode before 1 January 1983
  • not stopped being a Commonwealth citizen (even temporarily) at any point after 31 December 1982

You usually will not have right of abode if the person you were married to has another living wife or widow who:

  • is in the UK, or has been in the UK at any time since her marriage (unless they entered the country illegally, came as a visitor or only have temporary permission to stay)
  • has a certificate of entitlement to right of abode or permission to enter the UK because of her marriage

However, you may still have right of abode if:

  • you entered the UK while married and before 1 August 1988, even if your husband has other wives in the UK
  • you’ve been in the UK since your marriage and at that time were your husband’s only wife to have legally entered the UK or been given permission to do so

Certificate of Entitlement

You can apply for a certificate of entitlement to prove you have right of abode in the UK. It goes in your passport.
You’ll get a decision within 6 months from when you’ve sent your completed application and supporting documents.

Supporting Documents

You’ll need to send:

  • your valid passport or travel document – if it was not issued in the UK it must have immigration stamps to show you’re living here, or you must have a previous right of abode certificate.
  • 2 passport-size photos of you taken in the last 6 months documents proving you have right of abode.

Our friendly team would be pleased to talk you through your options and confirm what course of action would be best for you going forward and the relevant implications.

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