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Former British overseas territories

The decolonisation of the former British Empire resulted in many old forms of British nationality being passed down from one generation to the next. This means that many people who have links to these former UK territories may have a potential claim to British citizenship.

Get to know what type of territory is relevant to your claim to British nationality

Before you can be sure that you do or do not have a claim to British nationality you’ll need to do some investigating into what part of the world you or your ancestors were born in. Below is a list of the various types of territories that were once under the control of the British Empire in one way or another.

Each type of territory has particular and complex effects on your potential claim to British nationality.

British protected states

These countries and territories were former British protected states.

You may be eligible for British citizenship

Birth (or descent from a father born) in a former British protected state granted British protected person (BPP) status. Depending on the independence day arrangements and how nationality of the newly independent country was granted, this status could be retained in some cases.

If this status was retained, it was (and is) also possible in some circumstances to upgrade this status to full British nationality in the modern day, or to pass down this status one generation from father to child.

British protected states were:

  • Bahrain

  • Brunei

  • India

  • Kuwait

  • Malay States (now part of Malaysia)

  • Maldives

  • Qatar

  • Sarawak (now part of Malaysia)

  • Swaziland

  • Tonga

  • United Arab Emirates

  • North Borneo and Labuan (now part of Malaysia)

British protectorates with ETJ

These countries and territories were former British protectorates where the Crown exercised extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ). Birth (or descent from a father born) in a former British Protectorate granted British protected person (BPP)status. Depending on the independence day arrangements and how nationality of the newly independent country was granted, this status could be retained in some cases.

If this status was retained, it was (and is) also possible in some circumstances to upgrade this status to full British nationality in the modern day, or to pass down this status one generation from father to child.

British protectorates with extra-territorial jurisdiction were found in Europe, Africa and the Arabian Peninsula:

Europe

  • Akrotiri and Dhekelia UK Cyprus military bases
  • Ionian Islands (now part of Greece)
  • Cyprus

Africa

  • Ashanti (now part of Ghana)
  • Barotseland (now part of Zambia)
  • Bechuanaland (now Botswana)
  • Bunyoro
  • Egypt
  • Gambia Protectorate (now part of Gambia)
  • Gilbert Islands (now part of Kiribati)
  • Kenya Protectorate (Jubaland Kismayu and Port Durnford)
  • Kenya Protectorate (Lamu Patta and Strip)
  • Kiribati
  • Maldives
  • Nigeria Protectorates (now part of Nigeria)
  • Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia)
  • Northern Somaliland (now part of Somalia)
  • Northern Territories Protectorate (now part of Ghana)
  • Nyasaland (now Malawi)
  • Sierra Leone Protectorate (now part of Sierra Leone)
  • Solomon Islands
  • Swaziland
  • Transvaal (now part of South Africa)
  • Tuvalu
  • Uganda
  • Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania)

Arabian Peninsula

  • Aden Protectorates (now part of Yemen)
  • Kamaran (now part of Yemen)

British colonies

These countries and territories were former British colonies from their formation on 1 January 1949.

Depending on the independence day arrangements and how nationality of the newly independent country was granted, this status could be retained in some cases. On 1 January 1983, all citizens of the UK and colonies would have become British citizens, British overseas citizens (BOC) or British dependent territories citizens (BDTC), depending on individual circumstances.

Do you qualify for British citizenship?

You could qualify for a British passport if one of the following applies:

  • You were born between 01 January 1949 and 31 December 1982 in a British colony if you had a UK-born grandparent
  • You were born between 01 January 1949 and 31 December 1982, a parent was born in a British colony, and that parent had a parent born in the UK
  • You were born after 1 January 1983, your parent was born in a post-1949 colony and you have a UK-born grandfather

The former British colonies were:

Africa

  • Ashanti (now part of Ghana) – to 3 May 1957
  • Basutoland (now Lesotho) – to 10 March 1966
  • Gambia – to 17 February 1965
  • Gambia Colony (Banjul and Kombo St Mary) – to 17 February 1965
  • Ghana – to 5 March 1957
  • Gibralter – to 31 December 1982
  • Gold Coast Colony (now part of Ghana) – to 5 March 1957
  • Kenya Colony (now part of Kenya) – to 11 December 1963
  • Lesotho – to 3 October 1966
  • Malaysia – to 15 September 1963
  • Mauritius – to 11 March 1968
  • Nigerian Colony (now part of Nigeria) – to 30 September 1960
  • Seychelles – to 28 June 1976
  • Sierra Leone Colony (now part of Sierra Leone) – to 26 April 1961

The Americas

  • Belize – to 20 September 1981
  • Bermuda – to 31 December 1982
  • British Guiana (now Guyana) – to 20 September 1981
  • British Honduras (now Belize) – to 31 May 1973
  • Dominica – to 2 November 1978
  • Falkland Islands – to 31 December 1982
  • Grenada – to 6 February 1974
  • Guyana – to 20 September 1981

The Arabian Peninsula

  • Kuria Muria Islands (now part of Yemen) – to 17 January 1963
  • Perim Islands (now part of Yemen) – to 17 January 1963
  • Akrotiri and Dhekelia UK Cyprus Military Bases – to 31 December 1982
  • Aden Colony-Port of Aden (now part of Yemen) – to 29 November 1967

Australasia

  • Christmas Island (now part of Australia) – to 30 September 1958
  • Cocos and Keeling Islands (now part of Australia) – to 22 November 1955
  • Gilbert Islands (now part of Kiribati) – to 11 July 1979
  • Fiji – to 9 October 1970
  • Kiribati – to 11 July 1979
  • Line Islands (now part of Kiribati) – to 11 July 1979
  • Phoenix Islands (now part of Kiribati) – to 11 July 1979
  • Rotuma (now part of Fiji) – to 9 October 1970
  • Tuvalu – to 30 September 1978

Asia

  • Hong Kong – to 31 December 1982
  • Kowloon (now part of Hong Kong) – to 31 December 1982
  • New Territories (now part of Hong Kong) – to 31 December 1982
  • North Borneo and Labuan (now part of Malaysia) – to 15 September 1963
  • Penang and Malacca (now part of Malaysia) – to 30 August 1957
  • Sarawak (now part of Malaysia) – to 15 September 1963
  • Singapore – to 2 June 1959
  • St Christopher, St Kitts and Nevis – to 31 December 1982

The Caribbean

  • Anguilla- to 31 December 1982
  • Antigua and Barbuda – to 31 October 1981
  • Bahamas – to 9 September 1973
  • Barbados – to 29 November 1966
  • Cayman Islands - to 31 December 1982
  • British Virgin Islands – to 31 December 1982
  • Jamaica – to 5 August 1962
  • Montserrat – to 31 December 1982
  • St Lucia – to 21 February 1979
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines – to 26 October 1979
  • Trinidad and Tobago – to 30 August 1962
  • Turks and Caicos – to 31 December 1982

Europe

  • Akrotiri and Dhekelia UK Cyprus Military Bases – to 31 December 1982
  • Cyprus – to 15 August 1960
  • Malta – to 20 September 1964

Other UK territories

  • Antarctic Territory – to 31 December 1982
  • British Indian Ocean Territory (Chagos) – to 31 December 1982
  • Pitcairn Islands – to 31 December 1982
  • South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands – to 31 December 1982
  • St Helena, Ascension Gough and Tristan da Cunha – to 31 December 1982

British overseas territories

These territories are current British overseas territories from their formation on 1 January 1983. Those with family links to a British overseas territory will probably become a British overseas territories citizen (BOTC). In the case of Hong Kong before 1 July 1997, residents could (in some circumstances) register as British nationals overseas (BNO).

Full list of British overseas territories

Africa

  • Gibraltar

The Americas

  • Falkland Islands
  • South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands

Asia

  • Hong Kong
  • Kowloon (now part of Hong Kong)
  • New Territories (now part of Hong Kong)

The Caribbean

  • Anguilla
  • Bermuda
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Cayman Islands
  • Montserrat – to 31 December 1982
  • Pitcairn Islands
  • St Christopher, St Kitts and Nevis
  • Turks and Caicos

Europe

  • Akrotiri and Dhekelia UK Cyprus military bases

Other UK territories

  • Antarctic Territory
  • British Overseas Territories
  • British Indian Ocean Territory (Chagos)
  • St Helena, Ascension Gough and Tristan da Cunha – to 31 December 1982

Foreign countries with ETJ

These countries and territories were where the Crown exercised extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ). Birth (or descent from a parent born) in these countries or territories did not normally result in a British colonial status. However, if there was a family link (a parent or grandparent) to another former British territory or the UK, claims to British nationality can (in some circumstances) be made in the modern day.

You could qualify for a British passport if:

  • You were born between 1 January 1949 and 31 December 1982 in a foreign country with extra-territorial jurisdiction, if you had a UK-born grandparent
  • You were born between 1 January 1949 and 31 December 1982, a parent was born in a foreign country with ETJ, and that parent had a parent born in the UK

List of countries with ETJ

Africa

  • Algeria
  • Egypt
  • Ethiopia
  • Morocco French Zone
  • Morocco Spanish Zone
  • Morocco Tangier Zone
  • Namibia
  • Rhodesia
  • South Africa
  • South West Africa (now Namibia)
  • Tunisia

Arabian Peninsula

  • Kamaran (now part of Yemen)
  • Muscat and Oman (now Oman)
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia

Asia

  • Japan
  • North Korea
  • China
  • Thailand
  • South Korea

Australasia

  • Bougainville (part of Papua New Guinea)
  • Buka (part of Papua New Guinea)
  • Nauru
  • New Guinea (now part of Papua New Guinea)
  • Samoa
  • Tonga
  • Vanuatu
  • WeiHaiWei (now part of China)

Europe

  • Aegean Islands (now part of Greece)
  • Albania
  • Bulgaria
  • Crete (now part of Greece)
  • Dodecanese Islands (now part of Greece)
  • Epirus (now part of Greece)
  • Macedonia (now part of Greece)
  • Thessaly (now part of Greece)
  • Western Thrace (now part of Greece)
  • Romania
  • Turkey

Middle East

  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Palestine
  • Syria
  • Libya

UK mandated and trust territories

These countries were former UK mandated and UK trust territories.. Birth (or descent from a father born) in a former mandated or trust territory granted British protected person (BPP) status. Depending on the independence day arrangements and how nationality of the newly independent country was granted, this status could be retained in some cases.

If this status was retained, it was (and is) also possible in some circumstances to upgrade this status to full British nationality in the modern day, or to pass down this status one generation from father to child.

You could qualify for a British passport if:

  • You were born between 1 January 1949 and 31 December 1982 in a British trust territory, if you had a UK-born grandparent
  • You were born between 1 January 1949 and 31 December 1982, a parent was born in a British trust territory and that parent had a parent born in the UK

UK mandated territories

Africa

  • Cameroon
  • Northern Cameroon (now part of Nigeria)
  • Southern Cameroon (now Cameroon)
  • Tanganyika (now Tanzania)
  • Togoland (now part of Ghana)

The Middle East

  • Palestine
  • Iraq
  • Israel
  • Jordan

Free British citizenship assessment

 

Discover if you qualify for British citizenship through your heritage. Our online assessment uses your personal circumstances, and those of your parents and grandparents, to let you know your chances of attaining a British passport.

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