Britain plans special visas for some Commonwealth countries post Brexit

Commonwealth Realm
Current Commonwealth Realm countries are coloured blue, while former Realm countries are red.

The Express newspaper in the UK is reporting that sources at the “highest level” say that new passport arrangements for the 16 Commonwealth Realm countries – those where the Queen is the sovereign – were very much “back on the table” following the UK’s decision the leave the European Union.

The countries which form the Commonwealth Realm are Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tuvalu, Barbados, Grenada, Solomon Islands, Saint Lucia, The Bahamas, and the United Kingdom.

Kenya was included as part of the Commonwealth Realm until 1964, when it decided to withdraw following independence.

The special passport arrangements that could be considered for some Commonwealth countries include fast-track visas and easier entry to the UK, with reciprocal rights for Britons.

Last week a number of British MPs including former foreign office minister Sir Henry Bellingham, and former education minister Tim Loughton, called for fast-track visas for Commonwealth citizens.

However, as this will take time and require negotiation, the Royal Commonwealth Society believes swifter measures could be brought in to remind the realm countries of their close ties.

This would mean visitors from the 16 countries would benefit from swifter border checks by being able to queue in specially designated lanes and could even be offered a special emblem on passports.

Director of the Royal Commonwealth Society, Michael Lake said realm passports would be a cost-free symbolic gesture and that because of the focus on the EU, the UK has been “a little careless” with its Commonwealth ties.