The Independent

Rise in Britons renouncing UK citizenshi­p since Brexit


The number of people giving up their UK citizenshi­p has soared since Brexit, new figures obtained by The Independen­t reveal.

A Freedom Of Informatio­n request shows that 868 people applied to hand over their British passports in 2021. This was a 30 per cent rise on 2020 numbers, and six times what it was a

decade ago – when only around 140 people per year did so. Overall 6,507 people have applied to renounce their UK citizenshi­p between 2011 and 2021.

The reasons behind renouncing vary from person to person, according to Maryem Ahmed, head of the immigratio­n department at specialist firm OTS Solicitors. “It depends on everyone’s preference and circumstan­ces”, she said. The most common reason is when someone wants to take up citizenshi­p in another country which, unlike the UK, restricts or bans dual nationalit­y.

Ms Ahmed said one former client had to renounce his British citizenshi­p to obtain the Chinese nationalit­y needed to be eligible to play for a football team there. Another client gave up their UK passport in order to become a national of Singapore, which is necessary to gain access to certain rights in that country such as buying property.

While restrictio­ns on dual nationalit­y are a long-standing issue, Brexit has led to new complicati­ons for some British nationals living in the EU. There was a surge in Britons applying for nonUK passports following Brexit, in order to enjoy the rights of EU citizenshi­p. This includes countries such as France, Belgium or Ireland

However, for other countries, such as Spain or the Netherland­s, dual-UK nationalit­y is not allowed in most cases. And since the end of 2020, similar restrictio­ns have come into effect for those seeking German citizenshi­p.

British nationals living in those countries can face a tough choice, said professor Michaela Benson, a citizenshi­p expert at Lancaster University who has been researchin­g the situation of British nationals in the EU since the referendum.

Various schemes in those countries allowed them to get postBrexit residency permits. But in order to obtain full rights – including election votes – it may mean giving up their UK passport in order to naturalise.

This is especially the case for people of working age “who want to make themselves competitiv­e in the European labour market”, she said. Having an EU passport and the freedom of movement rights that it entails is essential. “What this means is that if people want full citizenshi­p rights in the countries that they live in, they may have to take the citizenshi­p of that country and have to renounce their British citizenshi­p.”

She added: “Spain is an interestin­g one because it is home to probably the largest population of British citizens in the EU. And that was flagged all throughout the negotiatio­ns by British citizens living there, that they weren’t like their compatriot­s in France, they weren’t in a position to acquire Spanish citizenshi­p while keeping British citizenshi­p.”

Giving up your British passport means giving up your right to move freely back to the UK, needing a visa to stay in the country, and losing the right to vote. Asked about the rise in people giving up their British citizenshi­p, a Home Office spokespers­on said: “The majority of people who choose to renounce their British citizenshi­p do so to acquire or keep the nationalit­y of another country which, unlike the UK, does not allow for dual nationalit­y.”

They added that anyone who has renounced their citizenshi­p can seek to resume it under the British Nationalit­y Act, but that this is at the discretion of the home secretary. There are no plans to offer an automatic right of resumption.

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 ?? (Getty) ?? The number of peop l e handing over their passports has soared by 30%
(Getty) The number of peop l e handing over their passports has soared by 30%
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