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Applying for Your UK Right of Abode

Whilst the ancestry visa relies on having a British grandparent, if you have a British parent then you might be eligible to apply for a ‘right of abode’. Essentially as the child of a British citizen, you have the right to permanent residency. This is a right you inherited at birth. However, to be able to clear customs and live in the UK you’ll need to prove this. You do this by applying for a ‘certificate of entitlement’.

Disclaimer: This is based on Laura’s experience applying for a right of abode certificate of entitlement from Australia and again from within the UK. The steps are applicable to Australians, so please double check the lodgement process in your own area. You should seek professional advice if you are unsure. Go to GOV UK to check if there have been any changes to the visa rule & fees. 

Before You Start

Firstly you’ll need to have at least one parent who was born in the UK and was a citizen of the UK and its colonies when you were born or adopted. You’ll also need to be a citizen of a Commonwealth country yourself.

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This method of entry into the UK best serves those who were born before 1983 and who are claiming their rights through their mother’s side. Those born after 1983 automatically become citizens and require a different process.

Visa Cost

The certificate of entitlement costs £321 within the UK. Unlike an ancestry visa, youth mobility or sponsorship there is no NHS fee to be paid, which could be a considerable saving if you are planning on remaining in the UK for an extended period. Your certificate is also valid for the duration of your passport.

I would highly recommend renewing your passport prior to making an application for your certificate of entitlement as overseas embassies tend to process applications faster (2 weeks in Australia for me versus 5 months when reapplying in the UK). You will also have to reapply and pay the full cost again, it doesn’t roll over to your new passport.


You have right of abode if all the following apply:

  • If you are a British citizen
  • 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 didn’t stop being a Commonwealth citizen (even temporarily) at any point after 31 December 1982
  • A female Commonwealth citizen who is, or has been, married to a man with the right of abode at any time before 31 December 1982
  • a UK and Colonies (CUKC) woman who is, or has been, married to a man with right of abode at any time before 31 December 1982.

Documentation Required

The documents you require for your application are:

  • Evidence of employment in the UK (if applicable)
  • Financial evidence – bank statements, term deposit statements etc.
  • Letter of invitation from a British citizen living in the UK (not mandatory, but preferential)
  • Proof of relationship documents – your birth certificate, your mother’s birth certificate (grandparents are not required)
  • Evidence of accommodation upon arrival (this can be a hotel booking or your referee in their letter of invitation can state that you are staying with them, even if this is not a long-term arrangement).

If this is not your first time applying, the process will be slightly different from within the UK and you will also have to send your expired passport as well as your new passport to prove you’ve previously had a certificate of entitlement. You are unable to have two current certificates in two documents at the same time.

Application Process

An electronic application process has recently been introduced, which saves you having to send all of your original documents to be processed via post. First, you’ll need to create your application using the Gov.UK website. Once this is complete, you will then need to book an appointment at a visa application centre, which will generally be in your capital city.

The process is as follows:

  • All documents must be A4 size.
  • You must separate your documents which will allow the barcode scanners to sort your paperwork correctly.
  • Any documents which are smaller or larger than A4 size, must be photocopied onto A4 sized paper. This includes the pages of any previous passports.
  • All documents must be free from any staples, clips or pins before they are submitted.
  • Torn, crumpled or heavily creased documents cannot be scanned and therefore must be photocopied onto A4 sized paper before they are submitted.
  • Documents should not be laminated

Once you have scanned in your documents, you will then record your biometric data (photograph and inkless fingerprints). You can then choose whether you’d like to collect your documents in person at the visa application centre or have them delivered to you by post. Generally, this will just be your passport.

The Benefits

In addition to the cost benefits, a right of abode application doesn’t expire. You are also treated like a British Citizen (because by rights or descent you are!) so you can complete customs like a local (you can’t quite use the eGates yet as you’ve got a foreign passport). This also means you won’t receive a stamp in your passport when you re-enter the country.  If you chose, you can apply for British citizenship and a British passport immediately, and not have to wait like if you were on an ancestry visa. Please note though that if you apply for citizenship via application rather than by staying in the country the required time, you won’t be able to pass your ancestry on to any children. Nonetheless, your children will still be able to obtain an ancestry visa through your parent (their grandparent).

About Laura from Passport Collective

Laura is an Australian primary school teacher who has just spent 2 years teaching in the UK. Which has given her many opportunities to see the world, and hopes to encourage others to undertake their own adventures. Follow her adventure on Passport Collective, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

About Laura from Passport Collective

About Laura from Passport Collective

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Hi, I'm Kat, an Australian that moved to London in 2013 to start a new adventure. What a roller-coaster that was! I love helping others move to the UK and people explore the world! I’d be honoured if you’d say, “Thanks!” with a £3 coffee on Ko-fi.

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Monday 4th of February 2019

Hi Kat

My mother has recently got her ROA in her South African passport and is now looking to go the next step to get a British passport, however it is not clear whether you can simply apply right away or if you have to meet the naturalisation requirements. Would you know? She is still currently in SA and would look to apply from there...the real reason is that her SA passport expires next year and we dont want to have to pay again to reapply for ROA when she would eventually want the passport anyway. Thanks Gavin


Sunday 13th of January 2019

Hi Kat

I'd like to apply for a Right of Abode (ROA) certificate for my son (7 months old). I've registered on the Visa4UK website, but there is no specific reference there to ROA applications. How do I navigate to the ROA application form?


Sunday 13th of January 2019

Hi Derek, The new link is for the online application or by post the applications are here Kat


Saturday 12th of January 2019

Hi Kat,

Great post, thanks a lot for the information.

Do you perhaps have any idea as to how long the online application process would take? I have a business trip in March and am looking to apply for the ROA online as opposed to through snail mail, which would take 4-6 months.

Thanks, Micaela

Asmara ahsan

Friday 11th of January 2019

Hi I am applying for a ROA certificate from outside of Uk, just wanted to know how long the process takes, place advise, once I have submitted my application how long will it take after then??


Friday 11th of January 2019

Hi Asmara, You would need to check with UK visas on the current processing times. You can read about their service here: Kat


Saturday 5th of January 2019

Hi Kat,

My niece has the right of abode certificate on her passport which is about to expire. Can we skip the renewal of the certificate on the new passport that will be valid for 5 years till Jan 2023 and reapply for the ROA on the new passport Feb 2023 ? Will there be any undesirable consequences.


Saturday 5th of January 2019

Hi Thomas, My understanding is that if you permit to be in the UK expires then you would no longer be allowed to live in the UK. You can confirm with the UKVI and double check. Why not apply for the new passport now instead of waiting until Feb? Get it expedited and then renew? Kat

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