British National (Overseas) Passport cover

British national (Overseas) passport, commonly known as BN(O), or BN(O) passport. It is a type of British Passport, identity, nationality status, travel document, and enjoy the same level of consular service as British Citizenship with British National (Overseas) status in the third countries. British National (Overseas) passport was first issued in 1987, after the Hong Kong Act 1985 was announced by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as United Kingdom. From the Hong Kong act 1985, it is a new class of British nationality was created.

For holders of British National (Overseas) passport are permanent residents of Hong Kong, or who had carried British Dependent Territory Citizen and has registered BN(O).

Quick Nevigation

What nationality do Hong Kong people have?

Normally we don’t expect this happen in another country, it’s the name of population in a designated place. However in Hong Kong, this is a little complicated. People who originate from or live in Hong Kong can fall under Chinese, British Hongkongeses or even Hongkongers.

Now the main problem for people outside of Hong Kong, is to know how to call and what they prefer when talking to them.

If this refer to Wikipedia: “Hongkongers (Chinese: 香港人), also known as Hong Kongese, Hongkongese, Hong Kong citizen, and Hong Kong people, usually refer to the permanent residents of Hong Kong, in a broad sense”.

The immigration department of Hong Kong states a Chinese citizen” is a person of Chinese nationality under the PRC (Peoples Republic of China). Hong Kong residents who are Chinese descent and have Chinese parentage, or were born in the Chinese territories (including Hong Kong), or persons who satisfy the criteria laid down in the PRC as having Chinese nationality, are Chinese nationals.

Hong Kong is a special case. Hong Kong is a huge city which has a population of around 7.3 million people. In comparison, there are +8.9 million people in London, and +4.9 million people in Ireland.

Hong Kong, name in official is “the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region”,  commonly known as HKSAR, so it has its own rules and regulations related to the history under British rules and regulations, which make this city an autonomous territory.

Why UK has given BN(O), the identity to Hong Kong people?

In fact, it was because of the 1997 prospects issue that year, BN(O) became the emergence. The UK government specially formulated the legislation for Hong Kong people under the Hong Kong Act 1985. The reason behind, is that there were many colonies before under UK, and Hong Kong is one of them to deal with the nationality status of Hong Kong people.

In the past, there were many kinds of nationality status of people under British colonies, but there are still several kinds existing today. If Hong Kong people belong to the Hong Kong colony before BN(O) appears, it is “British Dependent Territories Citizens“, commonly known as BDTC. However, because of the 1997 prospects issue, the Chinese government did not want all Hong Kong people to have a colonial citizenship after 1997, nor did they want this nationality status to continue from generation to generation.

The problem is that the UK government has also understood, that Hong Kong people are worried about departure in the future, so they created “British National (Overseas)“, commonly known as BN(O). Therefore, the status of BN(O) is only suitable for those who were born in Hong Kong before the 1997 Handover, or who are also BDTC.

What are the differences between BN(O) and British Citizenship?

There has a huge differences between British Citizen and British National in English and under UK law, most likely to be confused. Actually, BN (O) is a types of British nationality. It is considered as an identity, nationality status, travel document issued by the UK government, enjoy the same level consular service as British Citizenship under the UK government in third countries. However, BN (O) passport has not been granted to the holder for any full of rights, right of abode that any British National should have.

What do the rights of BN(O) holders have?

BN(O) passport holders enjoy the same level of consular service as British Citizenship under the UK government. Get them up to 189 countries, including some former British colonies that require a visa for BN(O) passport holders . However, they only have the right to stay in UK for six months as a visitor, they do not require to register with the police. BN(O) holders have the right to get married under UK law, which includes same-sex couples. Also, people who live in the country have the right to join the civil service, such as British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, as well as vote or stand for election in their constituency of residence.

What BN(O) holder do not have?

BN(O) holders do not have British citizenship, and the right of abode in the UK. Which means, they don’t have the right to work and live in the UK, and they need a visa to stay. Also, BN(O) holders do not have the right to work in the European Union. It also does not provide British consular protection in Hong Kong and Macau.

Since 1997, the nationality matter in Hong Kong has fallen under the Nationality Law of the People’s Republic of China. However, there have been some cases where the British consulate has stepped in, to help BN(O) holders outside Hong Kong.

Requirement of British National (Overseas) Passport

Both parents’ side of BN(O) holder’s must be Hong Kong Permanent resident. BN(O) holders was born before 30 June 1997, or former British Dependent Territories CItizen (BDTC) Passport holders, who registered for British National (Overseas) after Hong Kong Act 1985 was released.

If you would like to renewal your British National (Overseas) Passport, you can view our resources page to help you out here, or Guide and Troubleshooting Page here.

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Leave a Reply

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Lisa

    I have never thought about a British passport for overseas people. Especially for people from Hong Kong. I know it used to belong to Great Britain so I assume they originally had a British Passport. This information is very informative and valuable. You have explained it in terms that are very easy to understand. I’m going to share it on my social media platforms. Thank you very much for sharing 

    1. Anna

      Hello Lisa, thank you for your comment. The British National (Overseas) is the identity for HongKongers before 1997 who was qualified, which is unique. If you would like to read more about how genius British National (Overseas) Passport is, you can read more BN(O) Passport, the last escape door.

  2. Nath

    Interesting to see here and surely I value the information shared here. Initially I have heard the mentioning of the BN(O) on multiple occasion when people are talking or hearing things bit never truly understood the basics of it. It actually makes sense to see here and in fact, I value it all. Really an in depth reading here.

    1. Anna

      Hello Nath, thank you for your comment. You are right, previously on News were talking about British National (Overseas), but people didn’t know why was that happened, that’s why we are there to explain everything, and make our audience to understand more and in depth.

  3. Justin

    Hello there, I feel so happy getting to see this article that I can learn from and this is the type of contents I really want to keep seeing on the internet so i can learn from it. I really didn’t know the nationality of which the Hong Kongese calls under until now and its indeed a great feeling getting to know these things. In really happy 

    1. Anna

      Hello Justin, thank you for your comment. We would like to to help people understanding the background, and the reasons why British National (Overseas) has been given by UK Government before 1997, the handed-over of Hong Kong. That’s why we built up this article. Glad to hear that you like our articles. Stay with us and there will have more articles will be released.

  4. Suz

    Ah, this is quite complicated somehow though because I don’t understand how the bno passport holders means anything to this people if they are not able to live or work in the British empire. I also do not understand why it is then called the bno with one of the things that aee abbreviated here meaning British. I’m quite confused.

    1. Anna

      Hello Suz, thank you for your comment. As we explained, BN(O) stands for British National (Overseas). It’s a type of British Passport. The reason of why UK has given BN(O) to Hongkongers before 1997, the handed-over of Hong Kong, is as we explained on the website as given:

      “In fact, it was because of the 1997 prospects issue that year, BN(O) became the emergence. The UK government specially formulated the legislation for Hong Kong people under the Hong Kong Act 1985. The reason behind, is that there were many colonies before under UK, and Hong Kong is one of them to deal with the nationality status of Hong Kong people.

      In the past, there were many kinds of nationality status of people under British colonies, but there are still several kinds existing today. If Hong Kong people belong to the Hong Kong colony before BN(O) appears, it is “British Dependent Territories Citizens“, commonly known as BDTC.
      However, because of the 1997 prospects issue, the Chinese government
      did not want all Hong Kong people to have a colonial citizenship after
      1997, nor did they want this nationality status to continue from generation to generation.

      The problem is that the UK government has also understood, that Hong Kong people are worried about departure in the future, so they created “British National (Overseas)“, commonly known as BN(O). Therefore, the status of BN(O) is only suitable for those who were born in Hong Kong before the 1997 Handover, or who are also BDTC.”