Building a New Scotland: citizenship in an independent Scotland

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


Determining eligibility for Scottish citizenship would be an essential part of Scotland's transition to independence. From the first day of independence, many Scots would hold the new nationality of a Scottish citizen. Scottish constitutional tradition holds that the authority of the state derives from the people of Scotland[1][2][3]– that the people of Scotland are sovereign, not the legislature (as is the constitutional tradition in other parts of Britain)[4]. The proposals in this paper are intended to form part of the interim constitution in the event that Scotland becomes an independent country, as described in 'Building A New Scotland: Creating a modern constitution for an independent Scotland'.[5]

The section on 'Citizenship and statehood' sets out the Scottish Government's vision for an inclusive and welcoming approach to the entitlement to Scottish citizenship for all people whether or not they are born in Scotland or define themselves as primarily or exclusively Scottish, and describes how Scottish citizenship will be different from UK citizenship.

The section on 'Common Travel Area' addresses the continuing rights of Scottish citizens in the UK and Ireland, and those of British and Irish citizens in Scotland, with Scotland as an independent member of the Common Travel Area. British and Irish citizens would always be free to live and work in an independent Scotland without restriction through the Common Travel Area.

The section on 'EU citizenship and citizens' rights' looks forward to Scotland acceding to the European Union as a member state, and the rights that Scottish citizens would acquire when they become EU citizens once again – rights that Scots who are British citizens lost when Scotland was taken out of the EU against the democratic will of the people of Scotland. The Westminster government's approach to Brexit also impacted the rights of EU citizens in Scotland. This paper sets out how we would safeguard the rights of EU citizens living here, in line with the protections of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement ('the Withdrawal Agreement'), until such time as they can exercise their reciprocal EU treaty rights to free movement in Scotland once again.

The section on 'Passports' describes our proposals for who could become a Scottish passport holder, and the structures and systems we will incorporate in order to deliver this.

The section on 'Becoming a Scottish citizen by entitlement' sets out proposals for how people would become Scottish citizens automatically by right – both the transitional process on independence, and the ways in which children born after independence would be eligible for Scottish citizenship.

The section on 'Choosing to become a Scottish citizen' sets out proposals for how people could acquire Scottish citizenship by registering or applying to the Scottish authorities after independence.

Finally, there is a quick guide to the Scottish Government's proposals in the Annex to this paper. It provides an easy way to determine what these proposals would mean for an individual based on their current citizenship and other circumstances.



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