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asked Her Majesty's Government:
Why, in terms of passports, there are differences between British citizens and British subjects; what the differences are; and whether any changes are envisaged.
Citizenship is a matter of law, which is determined by the facts of a person's date and place of birth, those of their parents and the application of the provisions of the relevant legislation.
The British Nationality Status of Aliens Act 1914 determined in law that all persons born in the United Kingdom and Crown's dominions would hold the status of British subject.
The British Nationality Act 1948 introduced the concept of citizenship and determined which British subjects would become a British subject, citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies (BSUKC). The Act came into force on
The status of British subject was retained by a small number of British subjects. In particular Irish citizens born before
The British Nationality Act 1981 provided for BSUKCs who had the right of abode in the United Kingdom to become British citizens on
British subject status only applies to those born before
All British passports are issued in the same format and are only distinguishable by the status shown on the personal details page, or in some cases where the passport holder is not a European national for passport purposes by the absence of "European Union" on the front cover.
The major difference between the status British citizen and British subject is that British citizens are able to travel freely within the European Union whereas British subjects who are not European nationals for passport purposes, may need to obtain visas prior to travel. Individuals holding "British Subject" passports may be required by the immigration laws of the receiving country to obtain visas prior to travel. This is not a matter over which the British Government have any authority to intervene. The UK Passport Service therefore recommends that all travellers check with the travel agent or the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country they intend to visit if a visa is required.
There are no changes envisaged.