The Right of Abode

What is the Right of Abode?

The “Right of Abode” is one of two British names for permanent residence.

Yes, there are two types of permanent residence in the UK. As with everything else about UK nationality and immigration, it’s confusing.

Anyone who has the right of abode in the United Kingdom (regardless of of their type of British nationality) have the following rights and privileges:

  • an unconditional right to enter, live, work and study in the United Kingdom
  • an entitlement to use the UK/EEA/Switzerland immigration channel at United Kingdom ports of entry
  • an entitlement to apply for United Kingdom social security and welfare benefits
  • a right to vote and to stand for public office in the United Kingdom.

How is the “Right of Abode” Different from “Indefinite leave to remain”?

If you have “right of abode,” this right is usually a right for life. It cannot not lapse regardless how you live stay outside the United Kingdom. You do not even have to ever live in the UK if you have it.

Your “right of abode” cannot be revoked unless you somehow lose your British citizenship, such as by naturalizing in another country which does not allow dual citizenship. (For Commonwealth citizens, the Home Secretary can revoke “right of above” when necessary for “the public good.” However, this is usually only in instances of terrorism.)

“Indefinite leave to remain” (ILR) status will automatically lapse if you are absent from the UK for two or more consecutive years, so ILR is much closer to most countries’ definitions of permanent residence.

How Do I Know If I Have the Right of Abode?

Whether or not you have the “right of abode” depends upon your type of British nationality, but usually you need to be a British citizen. (Irish citizens do not have the right of abode but do have a more permanent status than “indefinite leave to remain.” Yes, it’s very confusing.)

So, if you’re not a British citizen, you likely don’t have the right of abode. If you’re not sure, contact us and we’ll help you figure out it.

If I Have the Right of Abode Through Commonwealth Citizenship Can I Apply for UK Citizenship?

Yes, if you are one of the few commonwealth citizens who have the right of abode, you can apply for British citizenship through naturalization.

Learn more about British Nationality