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Right of abode

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Title: Right of abode  
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Subject: Visa requirements for Romanian citizens, Visa requirements for British citizens, Taiwan passport, Right of abode in Hong Kong, History of British nationality law
Collection: Human Migration
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Right of abode

The right of abode is an individual's freedom from immigration control in a particular country. A person who has the right of abode in a country does not need permission from the government to enter the country and can live and work there without restriction.

Generally, in order to have the right of abode in a certain country, a person must be a citizen of that country. Those with permanent residency of the country generally have a de facto right of residence but it can be revoked in certain circumstances, for example for being convicted of crimes.


  • EU, EEA, and the Schengen treaty 1
    • Schengen Treaty 1.1
  • Nordic Passport Union 2
  • Gulf Cooperation Council 3
  • Hong Kong 4
  • Common Travel Area and the Commonwealth 5
  • British Overseas Territories 6
  • De facto right of abode 7
    • Full permanent resident 7.1
    • As long-term temporary residents 7.2
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

EU, EEA, and the Schengen treaty

Citizens of the European Economic Area (the European Union plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway) and Switzerland enjoy the freedom to travel to, live in, and work in any participating country without needing a work permit or visa, although transitory dispositions may restrict the rights of citizens of new member states to work in other countries. This is defined by the Directive 2004/38/EC on the right to move and reside freely.

However, rights to live in another EU/EEA state are not absolute. To reside in another EU/EEA state, one must either be working, job-hunting, a student, or otherwise have sufficient financial resources and health insurance to ensure they do not become a burden on the social services of the host country. States may also require nationals of other EU/EEA states to register their presence with the authorities after a certain period of time. EU/EEA states may deport nationals of other EU/EEA states and issue exclusion orders against them on grounds of public policy, public security, or public health. For example, those who commit serious crimes or come to rely on welfare may be deported. However, those subjected to such exclusion orders must be able to appeal them after a maximum period of three years, as per EU regulations. Under no circumstances can an EU/EEA state exclude a national of another EU/EEA state for life.

Any EU/EEA national who completes a five-year period of uninterrupted legal residence in another EU/EEA state becomes eligible for permanent residence, after which their presence is no longer subjected to any conditions, and they may apply for benefits that would previously have been grounds for removal, such as welfare. Permanent residency can only be revoked after a two-year absence.

Schengen Treaty

Nearly all EU/EEA countries are part of the Schengen Area; a group of countries that have signed the Schengen Agreement, which abolishes border controls between participating states, although it allows border controls to be temporarily set up in exceptional circumstances. The EEA countries (with the exception of the UK and Ireland) and Switzerland have signed the Schengen treaty. Several of the new member states have not yet fully implemented it.

As a consequence of this, for instance, a French citizen may travel to the United Kingdom, another EEA member state, and then freely live and work in that country. But since the UK has not signed the Schengen treaty, he can be required to present a passport or ID card when entering the UK. This requirement applies similarly to British citizens migrating to France. On the other hand, Switzerland applies the Schengen treaty, so a French citizen is able to travel to Switzerland without being stopped at the border.

However, a few European countries require all persons to carry an identity card or passport and proof of nationality is normally required to take up residence in any member state. Thus, while the Schengen Treaty facilitates the movement of persons across frontiers, it makes no substantive difference to residence rights.

Nordic Passport Union

The Nordic Passport Union gives the citizens of Nordic countries the right to freely travel to and reside in other Nordic countries without a passport or residence permit. Essentially, Nordic citizens traveling to other Nordic countries are treated as citizens of the host country for travel purposes.

Gulf Cooperation Council

Citizens of member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have freedom of movement throughout the GCC, including the right to reside and work in other GCC states with almost no restrictions.

Hong Kong

Common Travel Area and the Commonwealth

The Common Travel Area (CTA) consists of the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, and the UK's surrounding island territories. British and Irish citizens can move freely throughout the CTA without a passport and only minimal identity documents, and are subject to virtually no immigration controls. As both nations are EU and EEA members, citizens of both countries enjoy the right to live and work throughout the CTA with minimal restriction. However, unlike other EU/EEA nationals, Irish citizens enjoy additional privileges. Irish citizens who move to the UK are granted a "settled status", a status that goes beyond Indefinite leave to remain. Irish nationals eligible for deportation are treated more leniently than other EU/EEA nationals, and are not automatically subjected to deportation procedures as citizens of other EU/EEA states convicted of crimes, as Parliament has considered "the close historical, community and political ties between the United Kingdom and Ireland, along with the existence of the Common Travel Area." Irish citizens are therefore legally subject to deportation from the UK only in exceptional circumstances where the public interest is concerned. Irish law provides similar protections for British citizens. British citizens are virtually exempt from deportation, and are almost never treated as foreigners by law, although there are exceptions to this rule.

In addition, some nationals of member states of the Commonwealth of Nations are considered Commonwealth citizens, and have various rights in other Commonwealth countries, including the UK, such as the right of abode and the right to vote. In addition to certain Commonwealth citizens, British subjects born before 1984 have the right of abode. This is because if a person has a British mother and is born before 1984 under section 2(1)(b) of the 1971 Immigration Act they are considered to have the same rights as a British citizen. The right of abode is conferred automatically on such persons and they are issued a certificate on their passport in order to enter any United Kingdom Port.

Under the terms of the British Immigration Act 1971 exceptions, a long term resident Irish or Commonwealth citizen is granted immunity from deportation, similar to British or other Commonwealth citizens who hold right of abode by virtue of a residency term of at least five years in the United Kingdom. This only applies to non aliens (Commonwealth and Irish Citizens) of the United Kingdom, so these provisions are not generally considered for aliens with leave to remain in the United Kingdom. Refer to section 7 of the Immigration Act 1971 for more information -

British Overseas Territories

All British overseas territories operate their own immigration controls which apply to British citizens as well as to those from other countries. These territories generally have local immigration laws regulating who has belonger status in that territory.

De facto right of abode

The immigration laws of some countries give a de facto right of abode to citizens of other specified countries.

Full permanent resident

This includes cases where there is access to citizenship:

  • New Zealand grants Australian citizens/permanent residents full permanent resident rights in New Zealand.
  • The United Kingdom and Ireland grant automatic permanent residency to each other's citizens.
  • Full permanent residency rights exist between the countries of the Nordic Council (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland).

As long-term temporary residents

In these cases there is a right of residence but without access to full citizenship rights:

  • New Zealand citizens in Australia, but since 2001, Australia grants only limited rights.
  • Citizens of EEA member states and Switzerland living in each other's country (except the cases above).
  • Most citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and the Republic of Palau may live and work in the United States, and most U.S. citizens and their spouses may live and work in those states under a Compact of Free Association with the United States.

See also


  • Leonard, Thomas M.: Encyclopedia of the Developing World

External links

  • UK Home Office guide to right of abode
  • Right of Union citizens and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States
  • [1]
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