British Protectorates

British Protectorates - flag

British Protectorates was a status held by several of the former British territories within the British Empire. A birth in a British Protectorate would have resulted in the nationality status of "British Protected Person" (commonly referred to as a BPP). This status would have been passed down the MALE LINE ONLY to children of such BPP's.

Whether this status was kept will depend on the Independence Arrangements (and Constitution) of the former British territory from which it stemmed. A case-by-case study must be undertaken before an assessment can be made. It is still possible in the modern to:

  • claim the BPP status; OR
  • convert the BPP status into full British Nationality.

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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 Protectorates.

As a general rule, a person born in a British Protectorate became a British Protected Person (commonly called a BPP). This status could be lost upon Independence of the territory, and there were 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 the status of a British Protected Person (based on birth in a British Protectorate).

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

At various times, the United Kingdom administered these Protectorates:

Click here for more information on the status of a British Protected Person (based on birth in a British Protectorate).


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 territory 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 (BOC's).

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


Ask Philip Gamble whether you (or your children) have a claim to British nationality.

Learn more about these routes to British Nationality: is a specialist UK Nationality and British Citizenship site offering an online search and assessment. Claims to hold a British Passport can be complex and the site offers a quick, simple search to give you the answers. While many people qualify for the UK Ancestry Visa based on holding a Commonwealth passport with a UK born grandmother or grandfather, we have found that if you have a grandparent born in the UK, or if your mother is British or your father is British, then there are several scenarios where you can claim British Nationality and the right to hold a British Passport. This stems from Britain’s collection of British Colonies, British Protectorates and British Protected States in the middle of last century and the Nationality rules concerning what are now the countries of the Commonwealth.