Building a New Scotland: citizenship in an independent Scotland

This paper sets out the Scottish Government’s proposals for citizenship in an independent Scotland.

Foreword by the Minister for Independence

The people of Scotland are well used to multiple national identities. Most of us are officially British citizens. Many of us have dual nationalities, are nationals of other countries who have come to Scotland to live, work or study, or have ancestors who did exactly that in years past. Many Scots have family ties to England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. Some will be connected as a result of the nearly fifty years that Scotland was part of the European Union (EU), and its predecessors; and some will be through our longstanding connections with our friends in the Commonwealth. And ties will have been built the world over because Scotland is an attractive, welcoming, inclusive place for people across the globe to come to visit, study, live, work and raise a family. The most important thing is that, no matter how we came to be here, all of us are as Scottish as we choose to be.

When Scotland becomes an independent country, it will create in law a new legal status of nationality, that of a Scottish citizen, to complement our existing strong national identity as people of Scotland. This new status in law won't replace any of the identities we already hold. We can still choose to be Scottish and British, or any other identity. Scottish citizenship will be a new right we can share – but it doesn't mean any of us must lose anything about who we are and how we live in our communities.

There are some rights and entitlements that will come with Scottish citizenship that only a Scottish citizen can enjoy. Only a Scottish citizen will be able to hold a Scottish passport, for instance, as this paper sets out. But what this paper also sets out is that Scottish citizenship is not a prerequisite for belonging in Scotland. The people of Scotland are more than just its citizens.

We reaffirm our commitment to the Common Travel Area on these islands, so that British and Irish citizens will continue to be able to move freely to live and work in Scotland exactly as they do now, and Scottish citizens will be able to do the same in the UK and Ireland. We look forward to rejoining the EU, when Scottish citizens will become EU citizens once again with the horizon of free movement across Europe ahead of them. We will also welcome fellow EU citizens who choose to come to Scotland, and celebrate that the rights of EU citizens here before Brexit will be restored in full and protected in the meantime. And we look forward to welcoming new Scots from around the world and offering them a route to Scottish citizenship if they wish it.

Independence offers the people of Scotland the chance to build upon our inclusive national identity and sense of collective purpose. I trust the people of Scotland will take that chance when it is offered to them.

Jamie Hepburn MSP

Minister for Independence



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