Congratulations on reaching a significant milestone in your life – becoming a British citizen! This momentous occasion undoubtedly opens up new avenues and opportunities for you. However, you might have questions regarding your travel possibilities immediately after your citizenship ceremony and before you receive your first British passport.
Let’s explore this situation, considering a crucial step that follows your ceremony – returning your Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) to the Home Office.
Key Considerations for Post-British Ceremony Travel
Returning Your ILR BRP
As a new British citizen, you are required to return your ILR BRP to the Home Office, usually within 5 days of your citizenship ceremony. This means you’ll no longer have the BRP as proof of your residency status in the UK.
Applying for a British Passport
It’s advisable to apply for your British passport as soon as possible after your citizenship ceremony. It’s generally best to wait for your British passport before making any travel plans, as this will simplify your journey and re-entry into the UK. Processing times for a first British passport are typically four to six weeks, but delays can occur.
Travel with Your Current Passport
You can still use your existing non-British passport for travel. However, without your BRP, re-entering the UK might be challenging as this passport does not indicate your right to return to the UK as a citizen, especially if you usually need a visa to enter the UK. Your new Certificate of British Citizenship is not a legal document for entry to the UK.
Travel in an Emergency
In an emergency travel situation where you cannot wait for your British passport, you should carry your naturalisation certificate and any other document that proves your British citizenship. If you have not returned your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), you should delay returning it and take it with you for the travel. If you have returned your BRP and your current nationality does not require a visa to enter the UK, you should take a copy of your Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) BRP to show it to the UK immigration officer. However, if you require a visa to enter the UK, it is highly unlikely that the airline will permit you to board the flight. Hence, it’s not recommended to travel before you receive your British passport as it goes against official guidance. But if it’s an emergency and you still need to travel, you can do so at your own risk, but be prepared for delays at the airport. It’s advisable to consult with a UK immigration specialist who may provide you with a ‘comfort letter’ to support your entry back to the UK.
Depending on your destination, you may still need a visa for travel. Be sure to check the visa requirements for British citizens for your intended destination.
Although it may be possible for you to travel after your citizenship ceremony and before obtaining your British passport, there are essential considerations to remember. This is mainly due to the requirement of surrendering your ILR BRP and the guidance from the Home Office advising against travel. The easiest and most hassle-free approach is to wait until you receive your British passport before travelling abroad. However, if you have no choice but to travel, ensure you have all the necessary documentation to support your status as a British citizen. This will ensure a smooth return to the UK. It’s also advisable to seek advice from a regulated UK immigration specialist.
Once again, congratulations on your British citizenship! Here’s to many exciting travels ahead with your new passport.