British Overseas Territories Act 2002


British Overseas Territories Act 2002

The British Overseas Territories Act 2002 (2002 c. 8) is an Act of Parliament passed in the United Kingdom in 2002, which superseded parts of the British Nationality Act 1981. It makes provision for the renaming of the "British Dependent Territories" as British Overseas Territories, and the renaming of associated citizenship. It further grants, from 21 May 2002, British citizenship to anyone holding British Overseas Territories citizenship on that date (with the exception of those solely connected with the Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas), whereas previously this was available only to people from Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands.

The "qualifying territories" for the purposes of the 2002 Act include the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) and the British Antarctic Territory. At the time, there was discussion as to whether either of these territories should be treated as "qualifying territories" for the purposes of the Act, when neither have a permanent population and in the case of the British Antarctic Territory there are competing territorial claims that are held in abeyance.

Although it is not normally possible under either territory's immigration laws to acquire British Overseas Territories citizenship (BOTC) by naturalisation in that territory, the former inhabitants of the BIOT still hold BOTC by virtue of their birth, or a parent's birth, in that territory. It also appears that at least one person (Emilio Palma) holds British nationality by virtue of birth in the British Antarctic Territory prior to 1983.

Although it was not usual for citizens to acquire British citizenship under the previous British Nationality Act 1981, if their connection was solely to the British colony or territory, this has now been made automatic. [http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1013618138355#acquire] The only exception to this is for those connected solely with the sovereign military base in Cyprus.

This has allowed residents of British Overseas Territories to apply for a passport describing them as a citizen, to join the UK armed and police forces, and to exercise rights under the Human Rights Act.

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands was included in the scope of the Act mainly due to its former association with the Falkland Islands. The 2002 Act is similar in scope to the British Nationality (Falkland Islands) Act 1983 and repealed that Act (without affecting the validity of any acquisition of British citizenship under that legislation).

Those acquiring British overseas territories citizenship after 21 May 2002 may usually be registered as British citizens under s4A of the 1981 Act.

While citizens of all the Overseas Territories (except the Sovereign Base Areas) now have the right of abode in the UK, this is not reciprocal, as UK citizens visiting Overseas Territories are subject to local immigration controls, and require residence or work permits.

ee also

*British Empire
*British nationality law
*History of British nationality law
*Belonger status
*British Overseas Territories citizen

External links

* [http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2002/20020008.htm Full text of the Act]


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