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How to Apply for a British National (Overseas) Visa

Last updated on 2 February 2021


A British government plan to offer millions of Hong Kongers a path to British citizenship took effect on Sunday January 31, 2021. The UK government estimates the newly launched visa program could attract over 300,000 Hong Kong residents to the UK.

British National (Overseas), abbreviated BN(O), is a class of British nationality that was granted by voluntary registration to Hong Kong residents who had been British Dependent Territories citizens (BDTCs) before the transfer of sovereignty to China in 1997.

Here’s how to apply for a British National (Overseas) visa from outside the UK …

You must apply online for a British National (Overseas) visa.

Your permanent home must be in Hong Kong.

Before you apply, you can check:

Applying online

As part of your online application, you will need to book an appointment at a visa application centre to prove your identity.

You’ll be told how to do this when you apply.

At your appointment, you’ll have your fingerprints and photograph (known as ‘biometric information’) taken.

READ: China Will No Longer Recognize Hong Kongers’ British National Overseas Passport

The visa application centre may keep your passport and documents while processing your application.

It may be faster to apply from 23 February if you have a BNO, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) or EEA e-passport (with a chip). You’ll be able to use a smartphone app to prove your identity, instead of going to a visa application centre.

Apply now

Continue your application

You can continue your application if you’ve saved it. To do this, sign in to your account using the link from your sign-up email.

After you apply

Once you’ve applied online, proved your identity and provided your documents, you’ll usually get a decision within 12 weeks.

You’ll be contacted if your application will take longer, for example because:

  • your supporting documents need to be verified
  • there is information missing from your application
  • you need to attend an interview
  • of your personal circumstances, for example if you have a criminal conviction for an offence that is recognised in the UK

If you need to change or cancel your application

If you need to change something in your application after you’ve sent it, contact UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

You can ask to cancel your application. Your fee will only be refunded if UKVI has not started processing your application.

After you get a decision

You’ll get a letter or an email containing the decision on your application. This will explain what you need to do next.

You must travel to the UK within 90 days after you get a decision about your application.

There is no deadline to travel to the UK if you apply after the 23 February and use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ smartphone app to prove your identity.

If your application is unsuccessful

If you’re a British national (overseas) and your application is unsuccessful, your family members’ applications will also be refused. If your application is successful but your family member’s is not, you can still come to the UK.

You’ll get a refund for the healthcare surcharge you paid for each unsuccessful application.

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