British protected person
A British protected person (BPP) is a member of a class of British nationality associated with former protectorates, protected states, and territorial mandates and trusts under British control. Individuals with this nationality are British nationals, but are neither British nor Commonwealth citizens. Nationals of this class are subject to immigration controls when entering the United Kingdom and do not have the automatic right of abode there or any other country.
This nationality was created to accommodate residents of certain areas that were under British protection or administration but not formally incorporated as Crown dominions. About 1,300 British protected persons currently hold active British passports with this status and enjoy consular protection when travelling abroad. However, individuals who only hold BPP nationality are effectively stateless as they are not guaranteed the right to enter the country in which they are nationals.
Portions of the British Empire were not incorporated as Crown territory proper and instead considered foreign soil under British suzerainty. These included protectorates, protected states, League of Nations mandates, and United Nations trust territories. Because they were foreign lands, birth in one of these areas did not automatically confer British subject status. Instead, most people associated with these territories were designated as British protected persons.
In the 19th century, the term referred to any member of the native populations of protectorates or to a subject of protected state rulers. Over time, it became a substantial form of nationality. Eligibility requirements for the status were initially not well defined. The designation was given to anyone who was considered to owe allegiance to a local ruler of a state under British protection or who was indigenous to a protectorate without local government. More substantial requirements were codified in 1934; individuals born in protected territories who had no other nationality at birth or those born abroad who would otherwise be stateless to a BPP father, who was himself born in a protected territory, became British protected persons. The status was granted solely by royal prerogative until it was first statutorily defined in the British Nationality Act 1948. As Britain withdrew from its remaining overseas possessions during decolonisation, some protected persons remained BPPs despite the independence of their territories. After almost all protected territories had become independent, Parliament severely restricted acquisition of BPP status in 1978.
The several types of protected territories were differentiated by how their administrative structures were established:
- Protected states were territories that had existing organised internal governments and exercised high degrees of autonomy in local governance. Britain was responsible only for external affairs. Subjects of the rulers of these protected states were given BPP status. Former protected states in 1949 that granted statutory BPP status include: Brunei, the Canton and Enderbury Islands, nine Malay states (Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Selangor, Terengganu), the Maldives, New Hebrides, the Trucial States, and Tonga.
- Protectorates had no preexisting government and were territories where the British had administrative jurisdiction as well control over foreign affairs and defence. There was practically no distinction between a colony and protectorate, except that protectorates were not formally governed within British sovereignty. Former protectorates in 1949 include: Aden, Bechuanaland, Gambia, the Gold Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Northern Rhodesia, Nyasaland, Sierra Leone, the Solomon Islands, Somaliland, Swaziland, Uganda, and Zanzibar.
- League of Nations mandates were territories held under custodianship that were granted after the First World War. United Nations trust territories were those mandated territories that continued to be held under British control after the Second World War. Because the areas that became trust territories did not have internal nationality laws, those regions were treated as if they were protectorates for nationality purposes. Former trust territories in 1949 include: Cameroons, Tanganyika, and Togoland.
Acquisition and lossEdit
Becoming a British protected person is effectively no longer possible. Registration as a BPP is currently only permitted for individuals who have always been stateless and were born to at least one BPP parent in the United Kingdom or an overseas territory. Prior to decolonisation, individuals born in a protected territory and held no other nationality at birth were British protected persons. The status was transferable by descent to children of BPP fathers (but not mothers) who did not have any other nationality following independence of their territories until 16 August 1978. BPP status was granted in addition to other British nationality classes; an individual can be both a British citizen and a British protected person.
Retaining BPP status past the end of British jurisdiction over a protected territory is dependent on the type of territory it was. Persons connected with former protectorates or trust territories may remain BPPs if they did not acquire citizenship of the relevant countries, while all who were associated with former protected states or mandated territories automatically had the status revoked on independence. For those associated with the British Solomon Islands, BPP retention has the added requirement of never having possessed any other nationality. Additionally, Citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies who were solely connected with that protectorate lost CUKC status on independence and became BPPs instead.
British protected person status is automatically lost if an individual acquires any other nationality or citizenship after 16 August 1978, including other British nationality classes. It can also be voluntarily relinquished by a declaration made to the Home Secretary, provided that an individual already possesses or intends to acquire another nationality. BPP status may be deprived if it was fraudulently acquired. There is no path to restore BPP status once lost.
Rights and privilegesEdit
British protected persons are exempted from obtaining a visa or entry certificate when visiting the United Kingdom for less than six months. When travelling in other countries, they may seek British consular protection. BPPs are also eligible to serve in non-reserved Civil Service posts and enlist in the British Armed Forces.
BPPs may become British citizens by registration, rather than naturalisation, after residing in the United Kingdom for more than five years and possessing indefinite leave to remain for more than one year. Registration confers citizenship otherwise than by descent, meaning that children born outside of the UK to those successfully registered will be British citizens by descent. Individuals who become British citizens automatically lose their BPP status. BPPs who do not hold and have not lost any other nationality on or after 4 July 2002 are entitled to register as British citizens.
BPPs who hold no other nationality are de facto stateless because they do not have a right to enter the country that claims them as nationals. The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 allowed these individuals to register as British citizens, after which statelessness was generally resolved for people who were solely BPPs.
Unlike members of other British nationality classes, British protected persons are not Commonwealth citizens. BPPs are subject to immigration control and have neither the right of abode nor the right to work in the United Kingdom. They are required to pay a "health surcharge" to access National Health Service benefits when residing in the UK for longer than six months. They do not have the right to vote in UK and European Union elections and are ineligible to stand for election to the House of Commons and local government. They are additionally barred from being sitting members in the House of Lords.
Unlike full British citizens, British protected persons are not European Union citizens and do not have freedom of movement in the EU. However, they are exempted from obtaining a visa when visiting the Schengen Area.
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- The British Protectorates, Protected States and Protected Persons Order 1974.
- Solomon Islands Act 1978.
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- Regulation (EU) No 2018/1806 of 14 November 2018 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement
- "British Nationality Act 1981", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, 1981 c. 61
- "Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002: Section 12", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, 2002 c. 41 (s. 12)
- "Representation of the People Act 1983: Section 4", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, 1983 c. 2 (s. 4)
- "Solomon Islands Act 1978", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, 1978 c. 15
- "The British Protectorates, Protected States and Protected Persons Order 1974", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 1974/1895
- "The British Protectorates, Protected States and Protected Persons Order 1978", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, SI 1978/1026
- The Queen v. Secretary of State for the Home Department, ex parte: Manjit Kaur  EUECJ C-192/99, Case C-192/99, European Court of Justice