My British Passport has expired. Can I travel on my SA passport?

My British Passport has expired. Can I travel on my South African Passport?

Have a British Passport that has expired?

This article caters for those fortunate enough to hold dual nationality; to be more specific, South Africans who also hold British nationality.

Adult passports are issued for a set 10 year validity period. This also means that they expire.

In their busy lives, dual nationals (hereafter referred to as “the applicant”) often forget about the expiry date.

Suddenly an opportunity arises and to capitalize, an employer may want to send the applicant, a British national, to the UK. .

This scenario seems to come up quite often.  Naturally in these circumstances, the applicant does not have the requisite six weeks to    wait while their British passport renewed. Panic strikes and the logical question asked is:

“Well, can’t I just apply for a UK visa in my South African passport?”

The complication in this approach is found on the UK visa application form, which asks, “Does the applicant hold any other nationality(s)?”  To which the applicant has to be honest  and state “Yes”. The next  question generated is “Which nationality?” to which the applicant states “British”.

As soon as the applicant states that they hold dual nationality (SA and British), the visa officials automatically refuse the UK visitor visa application. No hesitation. No returned compensation.

The applicant forfeits the visa fee and loses out on processing time.

British nationals (with expired or valid British passports) are not permitted to apply for UK visitor visas (or any other UK settlement visa).

What we find in these circumstances is that there are two solutions available:

Solution 1 of 2: Request an Emergency Travel Document

Cape Town has the British Consulate and Pretoria has the British High Commission (nationally these are the two options).

Solution 1 is only available to applicants whose passport has expired in the last 10 years. If the passport has been expired for longer, this solution does not apply.

This solution is also not available to those that have lodged a British passport renewal through standard process.

It costs £100 and can be booked at the following link: https://www.apply-emergency-travel-document.service.gov.uk

Solution 2 of 2: Claim the Right of Abode

This is not cheap but it is quick. Note that this solution only pertains to applicants who are travelling to the UK and solution does not help applicants looking to travel to any other country (remaining EU included).

The Right of Abode is a type of UK visa that is inserted in the applicant’s South African passport.

This grants the applicant the right to abide in the UK as a British national (hence Right of Abode). It is granted for purposes of crossing the UK border (and that is about it).

Other countries do not (and will not) acknowledge this travel document as equivalent to nationality (for purposes of international travel agreements). Hence it will not help in travels outside of the UK.

3 week processing time (worst case).

It costs £423 (last edited 2017).

The only complication is that the applicant needs to provide evidence that their British passport has expired in the last 10 years. If the applicant’s passport has been expired for longer than 10 years, neither solution will help and the applicant is forced to follow standard British passport renewal protocol (faced with 8 to 12 week processing time).

More details about the Right of Abode can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/right-of-abode

In the event that the applicant’s passport has been expired for longer than 10 years, please contact our British passport division: britishpassport@moveup.co.za for further assistance.

Move Up Admin

Ryan Rennison does not claim to have all the answers. He just claims that he has paid specific attention to South Africans emigrating to the United Kingdom. He is a self proclaimed UK immigration SA emigration expert. Ryan is one of the few South Africans in South Africa that is able to represent any kind of UK entry clearance visa application. His passion about helping South Africans pass through the UK border resignate here.