Barbados nationality law

Barbados nationality law

The Barbadian nationality law is governed by the Law on Citizenship of Barbados (the Barbados Citizenship Act[1][2]), and by the Barbadian Constitution.[3]


Definition of Barbadian citizenship

  • By birth:

Section 4 of the Constitution of Barbados defines citizens of Barbados as "Every person born in Barbados after the 29th November 1966."

The only exceptions are persons born on Barbadian soil whose parents possess diplomatic immunity and aren't Barbadian citizens, or children of enemy occupiers of Barbadian soil,[4] or if neither parent is a citizen of Barbados (except in certain situations of statelessness for the child, where the mother is a Barbadian citizen—or a UK/Colonies citizen if the birth was prior to 30 Nov 1966, or if the mother cannot be determined), or persons born aboard foreign-registered vessels located in Barbados.[1]

Acquisition of the citizenship

The constitution also allows for acquisition of citizenship by: descent, registration, naturalization, and acts of parliament.

  • By descent:

Section 5 of the constitution states that children born outside of Barbados to most men who are citizens of Barbados shall become a Barbadian citizen. It has additionally come to include: children born to Barbadians serving as diplomats abroad,[1] and those born overseas as children of fathers who were or would have been citizens of Barbados but for their death.

  • By registration:

Section 6 of the Constitution allows for the wife of a Barbadian man to be registered as a Barbadian citizen. According to the constitution, any requirements (such as residency or duration of marriage) are to be "prescribed,"[4] and the woman must take an oath of allegiance if she is not a citizen of Ireland or a Commonwealth nation. The Constitution as written did not foresee Barbadian women marrying non-citizen men.

Other current Commonwealth citizens who fulfill certain requirements such as having ordinary and lawful residence for seven years (which must have been completed before 30 Nov 1966, per the constitution's Chapter II, section 3.2.[4]) may also apply for registration and be registered as Barbadian citizens, determined at the Government Minister's discretion.

  • By naturalization:

Non-Commonwealth Citizens may apply to the Minister for naturalization provided they fulfill certain requirements, such as residing in Barbados for 5 of the 7 years prior to the application, and all 12 of the months prior to the application (or any 12 continuous months which are within 6 months of the application, contingent upon the Minister's approval), and intends to reside in Barbados thereafter, as well as swearing allegiance to the Queen of Barbados.[1][5]

  • By parliamentary acts:

Section 9 of the constitution allows parliament to make "provision" for the acquisition of citizenship.

The Sovereign

The Monarch of Barbados is chosen by heredity. By virtue of being Sovereign, upon accession they would be a Barbadian Monarch per the Constitution.[6]


Citizens of Barbados enjoy the following rights:

  • All Barbadians 18 years and over have the right to vote and the right to contest in elections, if they so desire. Voting by right is optional.
  • Citizens have the right to join any Trade Union or political party of his or her choice.
  • The Constitution states that persons can not be persecuted based on religion. All religions are free to practise as part of freedom of worship.
  • The right to hold a Barbadian passport and entitlement to receive assistance by Barbadian consulates and embassies all over the world.
  • Citizens can move about the island freely without seeking permission from authorities to do so.

Barbadians enjoy certain privileges as citizens of a member state of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). As with many of the other countries of CARICOM, Barbados issues their version of passports bear the emblem of the CARICOM organisation.

Barbados and British nationality

Prior to 1966 persons connected with Barbados held British nationality. Barbadians were mainly classified as Citizens of the UK and Colonies (CUKCs). Upon Barbados achieving independence from the United Kingdom, it became a member of the Commonwealth with HM Queen Elizabeth II remaining the head of state in her new capacity as Queen of Barbados. The Savings Clause of the Constitution also allowed all existing law of the United Kingdom to remain in force in Barbados until changed by the Barbados Parliament. As such, Barbados would have thereby inherited the Statute of Westminster as part of its local law from the United Kingdom.

Persons connected with Barbados at independence may have retained citizenship of the UK and Colonies if:

  • they did not acquire Barbados citizenship; or
  • they had specified ties to the UK itself, or a place which remained a colony.

Such persons would have become British citizens on 1 January 1983 if they had acquired a Right-of-Abode in the UK before that date. Otherwise they would be British Overseas citizens.

Acts by the British Government which previously governed nationality laws in Barbados includes:

Dual citizenship

Barbadian law allows their citizens to hold dual citizenship and encourages Barbadians living abroad to remain open to the benefits of holding such status.[7]

See also


External links

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