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British Protected States

Can you claim British Nationality?

Getting a British passport might be easier than you think. Thanks to the UK's historical laws and agreements with former territories, you may qualify for British nationality depending on where you, your parents and grandparents were born. 

British Protected States

You could qualify for a British Passport if:

  • you were born between 01.01.1949 and 31.12.1982 in a British Protected State, if you had a UK-born grandparent;
  • you were born between 01.01.1949 and 31.12.1982, a parent was born in a British Protected State, and that parent had a parent born in the UK; OR
  • you were born after 01.01.1983, a parent was born in a British Protected State before 1949 and you have a UK-born grandparent.
Fast facts

You could be eligible for British citizenship if you were:

  • Born to a parent (a father or mother) who was born in the UK before 1983. 
  • Born before 1983 to a parent who was born after 1949 – as long as that parent a) was a British Citizen, or b) had a parent born in the UK. 
  • Born in South Africa after 31 May 1962 but before 1983, and you have a UK-born grandparent. 
  • Born after 1948, and your parents were married before 1949 and your paternal grandfather (your dad’s dad) was born in the UK. 
  • Born between 2 March 1970 and 18 April 1980 in (Southern) Rhodesia, and you have a grandfather born in the UK.

There are hundreds of other ways to qualify. As a general rule, if you were born in a country that is different to either parent or any of your grandparents, or you have a connection back to the UK, Ireland or a former British Territory, then you might have a claim.

Expert UK immigration and nationality advice

We are the world’s leading experts in UK immigration and nationality. For over 22 years, we have been helping thousands of people navigate the complex path to British citizenship.

Some claims to British nationality are relatively straightforward and can be completed quickly if you meet the above requirements. Other claims can be extremely complex and can only be determined by researching old nationality laws.

Making a successful nationality application

To find out whether you or your children might have a claim, take a couple of moments to complete our FREE online passport assessment.

During the early and middle 20th century, Britain ruled over nearly a third of the world's peoples. One form of this was through her collection of British Protected States. As a general rule, a person born in a British Protected State became a British Protected Person (commonly called a BPP). This status could be lost upon Independence of the territory, but there were several circumstances where this BPP status was maintained. If it was maintained, there are also circumstances where this status can be converted into full British Nationality. 

Click here for more information on how British Nationality can be gained.

For more information on how British Nationality could be gained through birth in a British Protected State with a UK-born grandparent, watch this short video by Philip Gamble:

At various times, the United Kingdom administered the following Protected States:

Click here for more information on the status of a British Protected State.


Birth (and what was could loosely be described as Citizenship) in a British Protectorate would probably have given rise to Citizenship of the UK and Colonies (known as CUKC and gave rise to what was the old form of what is now a "British Passport") or as a "British Protected Person" (BPPs). At the point when the Colony became independent, these citizens either took on nationality of the newly formed independent country, or remained as CUKCs or BPPs. 

The British Nationality Act 1981 came into force on 1 January 1983, and divided Citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies (CUKCs) into three categories:

1. British Citizens

CUKCs with the Right of Abode in the United Kingdom and Islands (i.e. the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) by virtue of a close connection therewith (e.g. by birth or descent from a person born in the United Kingdom and Islands) became British Citizens.

2. British Dependent Territories Citizens

CUKCs with a close connection with one of the United Kingdom's Dependent Territories became British Dependent Territories citizens (BDTCs). It was possible for a person to acquire British citizenship and BDTC at the same time. For example, a person born in Bermuda before 1983 with a parent born in the United Kingdom would have acquired both nationalities.

3. British Overseas Citizens

All other CUKCs became British Overseas Citizens.

  On 18.02.1965 it became part of the Gambia, a newly formed Independent country.