Dear Mr Bassie,
I read your column each week and I have a question for you. Is being a British citizen the same as being a British national? I often hear people using both terms, but I have wondered if there is a difference.
Thank you for reading the column. The easiest way of explaining this is to say that British citizenship is now one of the six different forms of British nationality. Some of these forms of nationality were defined in the British Nationality Act 1981, which came into force on January 1, 1983. It was through this Act, as of January 1, 1983, that the laws defining how citizenship can be obtained were changed.
The six different forms of nationality are as follows: British citizenship; British overseas citizenship; British overseas territories citizenship; British national (overseas); British protected person; and British subject.
In the past, other forms of British nationality have existed, but these are no longer current. Citizenship of the United Kingdom and colonies (CUKC) or British Dependent Territories citizenship no longer exists.
It should be noted that only British citizens, and certain British subjects with right of abode through qualifying connections under the Immigration Act 1971, have the right to live and work in the UK. People holding one of the other forms of nationality may live and work in the UK if their immigration status allows it.
The term British nationality is defined in the law. Whether a person has a claim to British nationality can be determined by applying the definitions and requirements of the British Nationality Act 1981 and related legislation to the facts of that person's date and place of birth and descent.
With respect to British citizenship, the most acceptable form of evidence is the British passport. If a person intends to obtain a British passport, or obtain advice needed for a passport application, that person should contact the Identity and Passport Service. If a person believes that he or she does have a claim to British nationality, but cannot apply for a British passport because that person does not have the documents needed, that person may apply for a nationality status certificate.
It must be stated that British nationality legislation is complicated, and a person is advised to get guidance and obtain professional advice on the claim before applying for a nationality status certificate using the relevant application form.
I hope that this helps.
John S. Bassie
John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court Appointed mediator, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a Chartered Arbitrator and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email: email@example.com.