British Dual Citizens: How the Government is Spying on You


British citizens can hardly have missed the news of the past few months about the huge administrative mess at the British Passport Office – apparently caused by change in procedure whereby passports are no longer issued at British consulates.

However, a much more sinister change has been quietly slipped in to the British passport application process, with no press coverage whatsoever. This is a change that should send shivers down the spine of every British citizen: it goes further than a new requirement causing consternation in Russia. It’s clear evidence that the government wants to know the exact travel plans of each and every one of us. Peter Macfarlane reports.



“I don’t need a second passport. I’m British.” It’s a statement I’ve heard numerous times over the years. As regular readers of my articles know, I’m a big fan of the multiple flags theory. It is my opinion that everyone who values freedom and liberty should hold citizenship of at least two countries, and preferably more. This opinion is not necessarily politically correct, but it reflects the reality of living in a globalized passport rules uk

It’s true that – for the moment – a British passport is a valuable asset. Despite the occasional terrorism risk, it’s a much more practical travel document than a Russia, Chinese or African passport that requires its holder to get a visa to travel almost anywhere. Brits are welcomed visa-free in most developed countries.

And, unlike the U.S. passport, there is no tax on worldwide income for British citizens. UK tax is based on residence, not citizenship!


Non-resident Brits are, therefore, in a relatively privileged position and don’t need a second citizenship at all – at the moment.

But what if some future government decides to extend the British tax net? Unlikely? Perhaps. Impossible? Certainly not.  In fact, it’s quite a serious risk. It wouldn’t exactly be unknown for the UK to follow the American lead, would it? Other countries, notably France and Australia, have already talked seriously about doing so.

Britain has always been one of the most liberal countries in the world when it comes to allowing multiple citizenships. In the UK, dual citizenship is expressly permitted. According to British law, you are either British or not British. The fact that you have another citizenship is irrelevant as far as the government in London is concerned.

Or, I should say, it was… up until the new passport system was introduced earlier this year. Now, the British government want to see and make copies of every page of every foreign passport its citizens hold.


This is quite a startling change in the system, that none of the mainstream press has picked up on, and indeed I only came across it by accident.

The guidance notes, contained in this pdf file, are very clear:

…enter details of all uncancelled passports that you are sending us.

A cancelled passport has the top right-hand corner of the cover cut off. An uncancelled passport has not been cancelled by its issuing authority (British or another country). This may include:

• an expired passport (in other words one that has run out, see below)

• passports you are or were included on (for example, as a child), and

• passports issued to you by other countries


Yes, ‘normal’ people are actually expected to mail the original foreign passport in with their British passport application.

Since this would be completely impractical for some non-resident Brits, who can’t be in a foreign country with no passport for 12 weeks, other guidance notes allow copies in certain circumstances. These copies, however, must be in colour and every single page of the passport must be copied.


This, to me, is an amazing about-face in British government policy. Before, foreign citizenship was irrelevant to British citizenship. Legally, it still is. It is none of the British government’s business if its citizens have one or more foreign passports. Yet, they are now effectively asking for dual citizenship to be declared, just like the new law in Putin’s Russia that requires Russians to declare foreign citizenships for the first time.

And not only must dual citizenship be declared, but the only justification for wanting copies of all pages is to look at the entry and exit stamps. So this is actually more intrusive than the new Russian law.


Why is the British Passport Office insisting on this new requirement? What is the legal basis for it? I tried ringing the call center, that is operated by a private company called Teleperformance, but nobody could tell me.

Whatever the justification and whoever thought of it, there can be no denying this is blatant spying on the personal lives and travel plans of British citizens. And once this information is in government databases, it can be used for other purposes – like taxation.


Without a doubt, this is evidence that Brits, and indeed persons of other nationalities who are in similaar situations, should be keeping exit doors open. If you haven’t yet read the 2014 edition of our Second Passport Report, now would definitely be the right moment!



36 thoughts on “British Dual Citizens: How the Government is Spying on You”

  1. Are you really meaning what you are saying? To me this sounds as serious logical problem with the understanding of plain English. There is nothing about second citizenship or non-UK passports here. What they talk about is returning uncancelled or copies of BRITISH passports, of course, and the procedure seems very much the same as in other countries.
    The extrapolation you make about foreign citizenship and passports is really your own imagination and is by no means what results from normally reading the text….Come on, there are issues that are real, but this??? You are manipulating the text to get to some non related conclusions…

    • Dan

      Sorry but your conclusion is just wrong. It is as clear as it can be, as we state in the article and link to the official pdf document – page 5 left hand column, that:

      This may include:

      • an expired passport (in other words one that
      has run out, see below)
      • passports you are or were included on
      (for example, as a child), and
      passports issued to you by other countries.

      Could not be more clear.

  2. The probable reason is self-evident: Some British citizens have participated, as volunteers, in wars in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, Gaza etc and have gone intensive training in urban fights using bombs, Molotov’s bottles, etc. Some Police authorities have declared them ‘a huge security risk’. Surely no terrorist is fool enough to visit Syria for six months using his current passport. Hence the measures, to let the law-abiding majority exclude themselves from the list of suspects.

  3. Thankfully the new guidance notes on supporting documents say that you can send in colour photocopies of all pages of the non-British passport instead. They are still spying on us, but it at least reduces the temptation for to ‘cancel’ the dual-nationality of such undesirables, such as myself.

    “All dual nationals should send in a colour photocopy of uncancelled non-British passports relating to them.”


    “Uncancelled non-British passports: Please send us a colour photocopy of your non-British passport (every page including blank pages). We retain the right to ask for the original passport. We will let you know by email or post if we need you to send it to us.”


  4. This is a national disgrace and a shame. Democracy is dead. Tyranny is taking over Britain. The government should ONLY go after potential terrorists with these oppressive, onerous regulations. This is outrageous!

  5. The declaration form requires me to sign to say that “I understand that by voluntarily applying for a British passport, it may result in losing citizenship of another country.”

    And they want a copy of **all** my other uncancelled passports without an indication of what they will use the information for.

  6. Well we’ll see. I’m just renewing my UK passport online. Paid my fee. Did not declare any other passport. I have one from a commonwealth nation where I reside. I was born and raised in the UK and have held a UK passport for 35 years.

    It will be interesting to see if they deny my passport application and revoke my naturally born citizenship. I think this is a push by ICAO, with the UK, US and others agreement, to maintain a single biometric database of global passport holders. ICAO have been pushing for a one document – one identity agenda for a while.

  7. I think I may have found why the UK wants to know if you are a dual national. Accordingly the UK can only renounce your citizenship (involuntary) if you have another nationality. It cannot be done such that it would leave you “stateless”. This applies to persons born in the UK as well as those acquiring citizenship via naturalization.
    Under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, people with dual nationality who are British nationals can be deprived of their British citizenship if the Secretary of State is satisfied “deprivation is conducive to the public good”; there is a right of appeal. This provision has been in force since 16 June 2006 when the Immigration, Nationality and Asylum Act 2006 (Commencement No 1) Order 2006 came into force. Loss of British nationality in this way also applies to people born in the UK as British citizens and who also hold another nationality. As the provision applies only to dual nationals, it cannot render a person stateless.

    The Home Office does not issue information on these cases and is resistant to answering questions, for example under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. As of 15 July 2013 at least 17 people had been deprived of their British citizenship, in most cases on the recommendation of MI5. Usually it appears that the government waits until the person has left Britain, then sends a warning notice to their British home and signs a deprivation order a day or two later.[28] Appeals are heard at the highly secretive Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), where the government can submit evidence that cannot be seen or challenged by the appellant.

    So it would seem that by identifying persons with dual nationality the UK government can remove their British Citizenship at their own discretion provided they do not leave the person without another “nationality”. This would appear a method to remove undesirables from the UK even if they created the undesirable. Problem with this is governments have a tendency to abuse powers with good intentions and use them for illicit purposes.

  8. I just applied to renew my son’s British passport. He also has a Japanese passport but I’m certainly not sending that in: it’s none of the UK government’s business. I will deny he is a dual national, if asked.

    If you are a citizen of two countries, A and B, you should never let country A know about the passport from country B, and vice-versa. Never enter or leave country A using the passport from country B.

  9. Has anyone done this yet? i.e., either renewed without sending in a colour copy of their other passport (and denied it) or renewed by sending in the colour copy?

    I’m really skeptical and this article is precisely why. This Declaration I have to sign says “I understand that by voluntarily applying for a British Passport, it may result in losing citizenship of another country”…

    Anyway just curious if anyone has done it yet?

    • Dear Tara,

      Thank you very much for your message. We are checking internally for an answer to your question. Can any reader answer Tara’s question? Thank you again for your comment.

  10. HI Geoff I agree with you looks like they are trying to meddle in personal matters and UK has been reported to be very intrusive
    Geoff and Tara what was your experience renewing your British passport with Dual citizen? Have you heard back from them did you run into any issues or delays? what was their response?

    Kind Regards

  11. @Anonymous Abroad Dec 02, 2014 Please let us know where you able to renew your passport? and did they ask for additional documents?

  12. Hi, I’m curious with the outcome from Geoff and Tara as well. Has anyone encountered difficulties as dual citizenship holders?

  13. In the same boat as Geoff. Of same opinion as Geoff. Would definitely NEVER EVER send in my daughter’s original Japanese passport. Getting indefinite leave to remain for my non EU spouse who has a British daughter is already unnecessarily stressful, unnecessarily difficult and unnecessarily costly and now we are exposed to this.

  14. This is indeed sinister. There is no doubt that Intelligence agencies in UK, USA, Australia, NZ and Canada are sharing information so you could potentially be prosecuted for giving false information based on say Australia telling the UK that you entered on a passport you didnt declare. All in the name of counter terrorism but our freedoms are being taken away one by one.

    • Thank you for your comment and astute observations. We are publishing more and more information on our blog about how to protect, and enhance, your personal security while using the Internet. We recently released a comprehensive guide to computer security that everyday people can use to evaluate what layers of security are appropriate for their individual circumstances.

      You can view an overview of this report here:

      Please let us know what you think. Thank you again for your comment!

  15. I am in the process of applying for my three children’s British passports to be renewed here in Moscow. They have Russian passports, but they have no, as far as I am aware, dual Anglo-Russian nationality.

    When my eldest child was first issued a British passport at the British consulate here in 2000, I was advised not to show it to the authorities at the airport when leaving Russia, as passport control there might try to take it off me, arguing that it is not a legal document and that my son is a Russian citizen only. That was 15 years ago and I had an Irish colleague then to whom this had, in fact, recently happened: her spouse is Russian and they seized her infant son’s Irish passport at Sheremet’evo airport, saying his Russian passport was the only valid one.

    However, on receiving my youngest child’s British passport 7 years ago, I was told at the British consulate that I no longer need worry over the possibility that my children’s passports be confiscated should the Russian authorities be shown them

    On Monday, June 1st 2015, I shall present myself at the outsourced by the British government business here in Moscow that deals with the issuance of visas and the renewal of British passports, which organization demands that I present colour photocopies of any other uncancelled passports that belong to my children, namely their current Russian passports, albeit that they are all now out of date.

    Apart from the cost of doing this (in total, there are 120 pages to be photocopied in colour), I feel it is none of their business to be given details of my children’s Russian passports, as legally my children are British citizens and British citizens only, born in Russia and issued with British passports there, albeit that they have only visited the UK twice in their whole lives, the eldest being 15 and the youngest 7 years of age.

    The cost of the renewal of a child’s passport is £55. In addition to that fee, I shall also have to pay a courier fee for each passport! The total fee for each passport then comes to £77.72.

    I am now laboriously making copies of every page of my children’s expired Russian passports on my home computer. If I take these copies on a flash card to a local photocopier firm and have all 120 pages copied out in colour, I estimate that this copying will cost me at the very least 20 rubles a page. I should therefore expect to pay at the very minimum £20 to have each and every page of my children’s now invalid Russian passports copied in colour.

    I shall take my flash card to my employer’s offices and ask that they make colour copies: my employer does all the paper work regarding work permits and visa applications for foreigners in their employ, although they have never had to do this for me as I have been living in Russia with a permanent foreign resident permit for these past 22 years.

    I shall then take these copies and my children’s Russian passports to the Visa Application Centre in Moscow, but I will not offer to show them to the bureaucrats there. If they put me under pressure, saying that if I do not present copies of my children’s Russian passports, only then will I give them the copies – under duress.

    I am sure that the reason for all this business is to enable the British government to deny British citizenship to those who possesss passports of countries that are considered to be unfavorable regimes that are associated with terroristic activities.

    • It seems like quite a lot of work and quite an ordeal! We are so sorry you are having to go through all of this! Please let us know if there is some way we can help.

  16. Now everything is clear! I have just returned from the Moscow VAC. They want colour copies of all supporting documents, including copies of every page of the current British passport, albeit all three of my children’s passports became invalid 3 years ago. It is the photocopies that they send off to London, not the originals. (A few years ago the British passports were processed in Düsseldorf!) No mention was made about my children having any other passports. All this is abundantly unclear according the the advice in pdf documents made available at the British passport and visa office.

    You only find out what to do by going to the VAC. They offer no advice online and tell you not to pester any consulate about this.

    My long time colleague here in Russia told me that he made three visits to VAC last year before he got his son’s passport renewed.

  17. I’m glad I stumbled across this albeit a year later. I’d just like to share my story which I am certain there are many like me and will be many more like me who will have the same experience.

    My UK passport needed renewing and I had submitted my application since the first week of June. I have dual nationalities as my father is British and my mother is Thai. I now reside in Bangkok but have lived in the UK for about 8 years. My UK passport displays my full name according to my British certificate, which is my first name which is an English name, my second name which is Thai and my last name. On my Thai passport, however, due to the differing culture, I am recognised by my Thai name only (Thai name plus last name). Thais do not have a first name and a second, third, fourth, fifth etc etc names. They just have the one first name and last name.

    Four weeks into the application wait time, a member of the HM Passport Office contacted me to inform me that they cannot issue a passport unless my name on both passports are identical. Now, on the Thai passport, quite frankly, there’s no way in h*ll the district office in Bangkok would allow me to have 2 first names. I’ve been instructed that, if this was the case, I would have to get a deed poll for a name change that will say my name is just my Thai name and my last name.

    Now, it seems for the past 43 years of my existence, it has been okay for me to use my full name on my UK passport but not it is not okay. It is not as though my names are different, its just the fact that on my Thai documents, my English name has never been recognised or allowed. While I can understand the issue from a security concern perspective, but I don’t see how 1) it is acceptable for the British government to demand my name change when the name(s) a citizen wish to be known by is their right? 2) for me to be denied something that I have had since birth.

    My application is currently on hold as I await more clarifications from the officer handling my application. In the meantime, I’ve written to complain to the passport office (it has been over a week and there has been no response) and I’ve written to the British Ambassador in Bangkok (unfortunately he is out of the office until mid next month). I don’t know what else to do but to just comply and change my name even though I really do not want to. Having an English name has always been a part of my identity and it is the name every one knows me by.

  18. Excellent article . I was enlightened by the info – Does someone know if I might find a blank UK VAF1A document to fill out ?

  19. I am a British citizen born in the UK, my children are British Citizens born in French territory. There birth certificates were duly issued by the UK consulate in Paris.
    We are also French nationals, my sons by birth and by their mother who is a French national, me by “acquisition” after 20 years of marriage though having lived in French territories fo over 40 years, I could also have requested and obtained the same by “naturalisation”. We too have been more than a little surprised and worried by this requirement to provide copies of our “other” passports which, strictly speaking, are no business of the the UK passport authority. Initially we thought the requirement concerned non-British nationals who are naturalised Britsh Citizens. This does not appear to be the case and though it is unlikely that relations between the UK and France deteriorate to such a point in the near future that possessing the two nationalities becomes a problem, the perception of this very invasive requirement could certainly have been improved if it had been accompanied by an explanation of the reasons for it and international and British law pertaining to it.

  20. My wife got her first British passport 10 years ago. She applied for a renewal in March, and still has no passport 5 months on. She is also a national of Belarus, and her name in her Belarusian passport is spelt differently. With her application she provided proofs that the only name she uses here in the UK is the name in her British passport. She also provided a letter from the Consulate of Belarus confirming that her Belarusian passport cannot be changed in the UK. After initial two months of silence PO requested another confirmation that Belarusian passport cannot be changed in the UK. When they received that, their response after 3 weeks of thinking was that my wife had to travel to Belarus and change her passport there. I have to stress here that at no point did we receive any formal written response from PO, all information from them was passed on the phone by a clerk reading the case officer’s notes. Nor did they return either of my wife’s passports (her British passport had expired by then). So my wife is expected to go to Belarus and return back to the UK on her Belarusian passport. Belarus is not a EU country and a passport holder needs a visa to travel almost anywhere, including the UK. How on earth is my wife supposed to get back to the UK?

    Obviously, PO have no idea whether it is even possible to change a name in Belarusian passport, nor do they care if it is possible to travel with such passport. To our request to give more details as to how they imagined this to work they said they cannot give advice on that because it’s not their job, but they have to follow single name policy. We sent them a letter with references to Home Office immigration guidelines arguing that what they are suggesting my wife should do is impossible without breaking HO’s own rules. They went into silent mode again for 7 weeks, the last thing we heard was that my wife’s application is being reviewed by the policy department and no final decision has been made yet…

    As a result of this red-tape my wife had to miss our family holiday… In the meantime, we wrote multiple complaints to PO’s complaints department – waste of time, to our local MP – wasn’t helpful (conservative first-timer), we even wrote to one of the Lords who worked on the amendments to this policy. We talked to a human rights charity and were told that indeed we have a human right issue here but until we get a formal decision from PO not much can be done. This treatment by PO is absolutely disgraceful. My wife is not allowed to contact her case officer by any means of communication. All she can do is send a letter to a PO Box and hope for a letter back asking her to give a call to the call centre so a clerk can read the case notes. The most annoying thing is that we have no traces of communication from PO, no evidence we could use to put legal pressure on them… The only thing we’ve not tried is going to a national newspaper, otherwise we’ve run out of options.

  21. Hi Max

    Just wondering is there any update on your wife’s passport ?

    My situation is different, but similar and I have almost reached the end of the line with HMPO.

    I have a couple of other ideas – I will post again if I see that this thread is still being read.


  22. I’m facing this at the moment. Holding two passport – one is from the birth country and the British Passport from Naturalisation(married to a British man). And the country where i came from didn’t request wether I want to change the surname or not. So I kept my original surname. In the UK i’m recognised as Mrs (my husband’s surname). Driving license, passport and other documents are all in my English name.

    When it came to renew my British Passport. Filling the application form online, “Are you Dual nationalities?” – I stopped and had a think , what should i say here, YES or NO? The answer is very simple, being honest , yes i’m. So I ticked YES. I don’t remember the rest of the questions. But having answered YES, they asked me to provide 1. Two identical passport sized photos 2. Declaration form 3. Any other Uncanceled passports I hold. My two passports have different surname, so I sent a copy of my marriage certificate and a letter explain why the two passports have different surname. A week later I received a letter saying “Pass Office can not issue a British Passport at the moment. We ask you to have your surname in your other passport to be exactly the same as in your British passport”

    After several phone calls(they were quite helpful though). I need to have my surname changed, no any other way. But that would mean I have to travel back and do that. The embassy here in the UK will not do it. So i asked them to send back my two passports, which they did very quickly.

    So, travel back, expensive tickets and time consumption. And it wasn’t the right time cause I have planed to visit three countries – all need visas.

  23. I am a dual British Australian national, I am Australian by birth and British by descent, I recently renewed my British passport as I live in UK, Sent copy of my aussie passport with my briitish passport renewal application. Had no problem. Got my new British passport 2 weeks later. No issues. If I had to choose anyway I would keep my Australian passport.

  24. Were they happy with a copy of your passport? I’ve been asked for the original. I thought a copy was only for those living outside of the UK?

    • I just received my UK passport (5-feb-2020) to which I started the request in early January. It took longer because I live in Brazil and the mail service here is trashy to put it lightly.
      I hold a Brazilian passport as well. During the online procedure I decided to be honest and say YES. I imagine being caught in international travel lie would not be good. Last year, 2019, I finally felt that hiding my second passport was getting super hard. I was stopped by airport visa agents 2x , they knew. So I think nowadays it is really on their systems. Done.
      Anyway, I sent colour copies of all pages of my Brazil passport, proof of residency original plus sworn translation, recently expired UK passport and a letter by hand listing all docs and thanking them for their service, which being British (culture does matter guys, sorry to inform those who believe being Brit is ‘anythinggoes’ ), I suppose may have saved me a good amount of hassle.
      My application went well….BUT…
      I felt very uncomfortable when I saw on the signature page (reserved for OFFICIAL OBSERVATIONS), right above my British Citizen status, the information in print saying “THE HOLDER HAS A BRAZIL PASSPORT NR. ***** ,ISSUED XXXX, IN THE NAME ABC DEFG, THIS PASSPORT IS DUE TO EXPIRE ON XXXX.” ando another photo of myself beside it.
      I know I have nothing to worry, but I am very uncomfortable. I don’t get why they would CLEARLY STATE my other passport full details so the any authority in the world can see it, even if I’m travelling strictly under UK Visa.
      My wife is American and we have kids. They of course a tri-nationals although I haven’t registered them as Brits yet. No Rush. When I travel to or thru the US I strictly do it on my UK passport and ESTA visa. OT is specially helpful to seem not local at the airport. I wonder how much damage I’ll be subject to now.


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