1. What is the British National (Overseas) passport?
Millions of Hong Kong residents hold British National (Overseas), or BNO, passports. These are issued by the United Kingdom Government to Hong Kong residents who had British nationality by virtue of a connection with Hong Kong before reunification with China in 1997. It was agreed by Britain and China in an annex to the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 (which led to the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty) that such people would be entitled to continue to use British travel documents for their lifetime.
Only persons who registered before the reunification of Hong Kong with China are entitled to obtain BNO passports.
Under Hong Kong and Chinese law, these passports are considered to be travel documents only, and do not confer any rights of citizenship on their holders. Under United Kingdom law, holders of these passports are considered to be British, and are entitled to consular protection if they get into difficulties in any place outside of China. Holders of these passports are permitted to visit the United Kingdom without having to obtain a visa beforehand, but they are not entitled to right of abode . When resident in the United Kingdom, a BNO passport holder is also entitled to the right to vote in that country. These passports are also recognised by many other countries for visa-free travel purposes.
BNO passports are governed by the Hong Kong (British Nationality) Order 1986, which is an Order-in-Council of the United Kingdom Government.