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The status of British protected person (BPP) is
a status held by certain persons under the British Nationality Act
1981. It is not traditionally considered a form of British
nationality - as British protected persons are not Commonwealth citizens in British nationality law, they
do not have full civil rights in the United Kingdom. However, BPPs, like
Commonwealth citizens and Irish citizens, are not considered aliens in the United
Kingdom, and it has been submitted that as they are not stateless,
they must have some kind of nationality, and that nationality must
by necessity be a form of British nationality. Their position is
As BPPs are not Commonwealth or Irish citizens, they are not
eligible to vote in the United Kingdom. However, as they are not
aliens, they are eligible for most public positions, e.g. in the
armed forces, civil service, etc.
Certain parts of the British Empire were under British control
but did not become part of the Crown's dominions.
states - Britain controlled only defence and external
relations. Brunei is one
- similar to protected states, but where an internal government was
also set up by Britain. In practical terms there was little
distinction between a protectorate and a colony, except for the
legal status of belonging or otherwise to the Crown's dominions.
The protectorates included many British possessions in Africa, the
Middle East, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. Details
- Mandated territories -
Britain was given responsibility for administration by the League
of Nations. These included the Ottoman territories of Iraq and Palestine, and the German colonies of Cameroon, Nauru, Tanganyika and Togo.
- Trust territories -
similar to mandated territories, under the responsibility of the
United Nations after 1945. The only UN trust territory under
British control which was not one of the League of Nations mandates
was Libya. Details
person status (BPP)
As protectorates and protected states were 'foreign' soil, birth
in such a place could not in general confer British subject
status before 1949, or citizenship of the UK & Colonies (CUKC)
from that date.
The status of British protected person hence evolved over
- From the 1800s onwards, persons indigenous to a protectorate,
and subjects of the local ruler in a Protected State, became known
as 'British protected persons'. Established under Royal
Prerogative, a more sophisticated test of 'belonging' was
established by the British Protected Persons Order 1934.
- British protected person was defined in section 32(1) of the
British Nationality Act 1948 and authority was given to the Home
Secretary to define by Order in Council persons who should be
British protected persons.
- The British Protectorates, Protected States and Protected
Persons Order came into force on 28 January 1949, establishing for
the first time a statutory basis for British protected person
- The concept of a statutory BPP largely replaced that
of Royal Prerogative BPP in 1949. However some persons may
still be granted Royal Prerogative BPP status if connected
to a former protectorate or protected state, with no other
nationality and no prospect of obtaining another nationality.
Statutory BPP under the
BPP status was normally held by:
- persons born in a protectorate or protected state (with no
nationality law), or with a father born there; and
- where a protected state had a nationality law, citizens or
nationals of that state
There was no bar on a person with another Commonwealth or
foreign nationality also holding statutory BPP status.
The 1949 Order was replaced by new legislation in 1965 which
provided for some additional persons (stateless individuals and
women married to BPPs) to acquire BPP by registration.
BPP status was normally lost automatically upon acquisition of
the nationality of the country with which the person was
In some cases any person with BPP status connected to that
territory lost BPP status, even if they did not acquire the
citizenship of the country at independence. However the majority of
BPPs connected with a former protectorate or protected state
retained BPP provided they did not acquire the citizenship of the
British Protected Persons
With effect from 16 August 1978, a BPP acquiring
any Commonwealth, Irish or foreign nationality or
citizenship automatically lost BPP status.
as a Citizen of the UK & Colonies
Under the British Nationality Act 1948, BPPs were treated
similarly to those from non-Commonwealth countries in seeking to
become CUKCs. They were expected to apply for
naturalisation rather than
registration and were required to take an Oath of
Allegiance to the monarch.
British Nationality and
Although most people connected with protectorates and Protected
States did not acquire British subject status there were some
- Persons born in a protectorate and some Protected States with a
British subject father were British subjects by birth (even if the
father was a British subject by descent). This exception to normal
rules on transmission of British subject status was put on a
statutory basis by section 2(1) of the British Nationality and
Status of Aliens Act 1943.
- On 1 January 1949 any British subject born in a protectorate or
Protected State automatically became a Citizen of the UK &
Colonies (CUKC) under section 12(3) of the British Nationality Act
- Governors of protectorates and some protected states had the
right under sections 8 and 10 of the British Nationality Act 1948
to register or naturalise persons as CUKCs by virtue of a
connection to that protectorate or protected state.
Some of these persons may have lost CUKC at independence of the
protectorate or protected state concerned. If they retained CUKC
they would generally be British citizens or British Overseas
citizens. See History of British
Access to British
British protected persons may normally become British citizens
through one of the following routes:
Residence in the United
- After 5 years residence in the United Kingdom, and holding Indefinite
Leave to Remain (ILR) or its equivalent for at least 12 months,
a BPP may apply for registration as a British citizen under
section 4 of the British Nationality Act 1981.
- If married to a British citizen, it is possible to apply for
naturalisation as a British citizen after 3 years
residence in the United Kingdom provided ILR is held on the day of
Both of these options confer British citizenship otherwise
than by descent and hence children born subsequently outside
the United Kingdom will normally have access to British
Holding No Other
British protected persons who hold no other citizenship or
nationality, and have not lost or renounced any other citizenship
or nationality after 4 July 2002 (whether voluntarily or otherwise)
may apply to be registered as British citizens. This is through s4B
of the British Nationality Act 1981, in force from 30 April 2003,
and should include the vast majority of BPPs.
- Holding permanent residence in another
country does not in itself cause a bar to registration, provided
the nationality of that country is not acquired before application
for British citizenship is granted (and British citizenship
acquired through taking an Oath and Pledge). Subsequent
acquisition of another citizenship or nationality does not cause
loss of British citizenship.
- Registration under this section confers British citizenship
by descent and hence those BPPs permanently resident in
the United Kingdom should normally consider section 4
registration or naturalisation instead.
Loss of BPP
A British protected person who acquires another country's
citizenship, voluntarily or otherwise, automatically loses
BPPs may be deprived of BPP status on terms similar to those
applicable to British citizens.
A BPP citizen may renounce BPP status on the same basis as a
British citizen. However there is no provision to resume BPP status