What is the right of abode?
Produced in partnership with Adrian Berry of Garden Court Chambers

The following Immigration practice note produced in partnership with Adrian Berry of Garden Court Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • What is the right of abode?
  • The right of abode—status
  • The right of abode before 1983
  • Citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies with the right of abode before 1983
  • Commonwealth citizens with the right of abode before 1983
  • Wives with the right of abode before 1983
  • The right of abode from 1983
  • Proving the right of abode on entry to the UK
  • Applying for a certificate of entitlement to the right of abode
  • Applications made outside the UK
  • More...

What is the right of abode?

The right of abode—status

The right of abode in the UK is an immigration status. A person who has the right of abode is free to live in, and to come and go into and from, the UK, subject only to restrictions to enable the right to be established or which may otherwise be lawfully imposed. Restrictions imposed include:

  1. being asked to produce a passport when seeking to enter the UK

  2. being refused entry where unable to produce a relevant UK passport

  3. being refused entry where unable to produce a certificate of entitlement when seeking to enter

  4. being subject to a temporary exclusion order, whether or not the person has also been issued with a permit to return

A person with the right of abode is not subject to immigration control in the UK.

The right of abode is conferred on all British citizens by the Immigration Act 1971, s 2 (IA 1971). Certain Commonwealth citizens who held the right of abode in the UK before 1983 retain that status on and after that date. From 1983 only British citizens may acquire the right of abode.

See Nationality Guidance, Historical background information on nationality for information on the history of the concept of right of abode.

The right of abode before 1983

From commencement of the IA 1971 on 1 January 1973 to 31 December

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