I am a British Citizen living in South Africa and am applying for a British Passport from South Africa for my 2-year-old son. We are going to the UK in December which will be his first time but I have heard that you cannot enter a country on a passport that you have never had stamped out of that country.

So my question is, is that true and does that mean even though he will have dual citizenship that I will have to also get a Visa for him to go to the UK?

I know it seems like a stupid question but I don't want to fly all the way there and have problems and the UK Gov website doesn't say anything!

  • 3
    Anecdotal, but in 2009 I entered the UK from the US with my three dual-citizen sons, all sporting their new UK passports issued in Washington DC one week before (consecutive serial numbers!) and it did not raise the eyebrows at the border at all. Commented Sep 30, 2017 at 13:09
  • I did the same with my son. He was born in the Philippines. I got him a UK passport and we travelled to the UK when he was 8 months. No special procedure was required in the UK. However, as an alien who had been in the Philippines for more than 6 months (just), he needed an exit visa from the Philippines. So, somewhere in a dusty corner of the Philippine Bureau of Foreign Affairs is a tiny set of fingerprints. He was eligible for Philippine citizenship but had not claimed it at the time.
    – badjohn
    Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 13:42

1 Answer 1


What you have heard is completely untrue. Countries issue passports to their citizens abroad all the time, and those citizens use those passports to return to the country of issue. If what you have heard were true, it would be impossible for countries to issue passports at their consulates abroad, or to mail them to their citizens abroad. It wouldn't make any sense.

Furthermore, EU countries (still including the UK as of this writing) do not stamp passports of their own citizens, so there will be no indication in the passport that your son hasn't yet visited the UK.

On top of that, the UK does not directly examine or stamp the passports of anyone on exit; they eliminated systematic exit controls several years ago as a cost saving measure. The only way they'd know that the passport wasn't used to leave the UK is that firstly it was sent to South Africa and secondly there is no record of its use in their computer systems.

What's more, most countries, including the UK, consider their own citizens ineligible to receive visas. So there's no way you can get a visa for your son. Instead, use the passport.

Whether the passport has ever been used is not important. UK immigration officers do not routinely examine passport stamps or travel records of the people they are admitting to the country. UK immigration officers must admit anyone whom they believe to be a British citizen, regardless of the documentation used to prove British citizenship, because British citizens have an absolute legal right to enter the country. UK immigration officers see dual citizens every day, and if there should be any question about your son's status in South Africa, his point of departure, you can show his South African passport.

  • @PeterTaylor the passport won't list the consulate as the issuing authority?
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 22:25
  • I have old UK passports, from before the centralization, that were issued to me in the US and then used to travel to the UK. Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 22:25
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    @phoog My current UK passport has "HMPO" as the issuing authority. I sent my old passport etc. to the office in Durham and the new one was delivered to me in California with absolutely no involvement of any consulate. Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 22:28
  • @PatriciaShanahan okay, I've adjusted the text; it should make slightly more sense now.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 22:36
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    @proof The issuing authority used to be “FCO” (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) for passports issued by consulates and embassies. Prior to 2005ish it did say the exact embassy or consulate by name. Now AFAIK it’s just “HMPO” for everyone.
    – Calchas
    Commented Sep 30, 2017 at 14:13

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