Since October 2022, many passport applications have been put on hold due to the case of R (Roehrig) v SSHD  EWHC 31 (Admin). This was the case in which the High Court held that EEA nationals exercising free movement rights in the UK prior to 2 October 2000, but who had not been granted indefinite leave to remain, were not settled for the purposes of the British Nationality Act 1981. See our previous updates from March and April 2023.
The good news is that, following the British Nationality (Regularisation of Past Practice) Act 2023 coming into force on 29 June 2023, passport applications from this cohort are now being processed. Applicants whose cases had been put on hold have already started to receive their British passports.
While this issue has, it seems, now been resolved, we are increasingly seeing British citizens who have a second nationality having their applications put on hold. This is due to HM Passport Office’s current policy on aligning names on foreign documents. The policy states:
“Customers may send us a passport application in a name that does not match their foreign documents. Unless it meets one of our exceptions, we expect customers to change the name on their foreign document, so it matches the name on their passport application, before they send their application to us.”
This policy catches out many British citizens who are dual nationals, but whose non-British passport is in a slightly different name. This includes those who have renewed their British passports several times before without previously encountering any issues.
HM Passport Office’s rationale for this is that it:
- “Must protect the security of the British passport (by preventing, disrupting and identifying those who change their name to commit crime or avoid detection)
- cannot accept documents that allow a customer to apply for a foreign passport, travel document or identity document in a different name”.
In many cases, an applicant will be able to remedy the situation by obtaining a new foreign passport in the same name as their British passport. However, this is not always possible or appropriate. HM Passport Office recognises this, and, in certain limited situations, it will issue a British passport where the holder also has a foreign passport in a different name. This includes where the other country imposes restrictions on name or gender changes or limits the number of characters that can be used in the name fields in a passport. HM Passport Office also recognises that there may cultural naming conventions which dictate how a name is written in a non-British passport. For example, some countries have rules on name order or requirements that a passport must show the family names of both parents. In these circumstances, HM Passport Office is likely to issue a British passport with an observation that the person also holds a second passport in a different name.
If you are affected by any of the issues addressed above and would like expert legal advice, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 020 7401 6887.