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A British Protected Person is an old colonial status of British Nationality. A birth in a British Protected State 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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BPP status is one of the three forms of British protection offered to former British Subjects, the other two being British Overseas Citizen (BOC) and British National Overseas (BNO). Unless nationality of that Protectorate or Protected State was not taken up on Independence, then it was likely that the status of British Protected Person was retained. It is possible - in certain circumstances - to upgrade this status to full British Nationality.


British Protected Person (BPP) - Kenya: Applicant born in the Kenya Protectorate between 1921 and 11.12.1963.

British Protected Person (BPP) - Malay States: Applicant born in the Malay States before 30.08.1957 .

British Protected Person (BPP) - Nyasaland: Applicant born in Nyasaland before 05.07.1964. 

British Protected Person (BPP) - Tanganyika: Applicant born in Tanganyika.

British Protected Person (BPP) - Brunei: Applicant's father born in Brunei.

British Protected Person (BPP) - Uganda: Applicant born in Uganda before 08.10.1962.


British Protected Person (BPP) - Kenya by Descent: Father of applicant born in Kenya Protectorate between 1921 and 11.12.1963. Applicant born in the Kenya Protectorate Applicant born in the Kenya Protectorate Applicant born in the Kenya Protectorate  AA


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 therefore sui generis.

It is possible, in some circumstances, to UPGRADE a BPP to full British Citizenship. This is possible even if another nationality is held.

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.

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 time:

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 status (BPP).

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.

Regardless of the above, British Protectorates and British Protected States were considered very much part of the British Empire and British Protected Persons (BPPs) were, and still are, issued British Passports describing them as such. As a general rule, those born in former British Protectorates were at some stage holders of this obscure form of British Nationality. Whether such persons still hold this nationality to this day (or indeed whether their dependents are entitled to it) is a question of law and determined usually by the Independence arrangements of the country concerned and subsequent Orders in Council (UK).

Click here for more information on a British Protected Person, based on:

To read more about the various areas that contributed to this British Status, please see:




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

Learn more about these routes to British Nationality:

WhatPassport.com 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.

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