Property Developers, Property Investors

What is BNO in Hong Kong?

simon

Simon Misiewicz

4th August 2021

What is BNO in Hong Kong?

So, what is BNO in Hong Kong and what does it mean?  BNO’s are British nationals and Commonwealth citizens but not British citizens, thus are still subject to immigration controls.  This article covers this and more to give you a better understanding of the subject.

UK Tax resident status: You may be interested in our Article on UK Tax status if you want to move to the UK or from the UK.

You may also be interested in knowing more about our property tax services if you are looking to invest in UK buy to let properties.

The frequently asked questions about British National Overseas (BNO)

As property accountants, we are regularly asked about BNOs. We will look to answer the below questions in this Article.

“Are you paying too much tax when moving to the UK?”

“What are the basics of British National Overseas?”

“Why has the UK introduced this new visa system?”

“How do I get a Hong Kong BNO visa?”

“What is the difference between a BNO and a British Overseas citizen?”

“Which documents do I need to apply for a British National (Overseas) visa?”

“Must I apply for the Hong Kong BNO visa from outside or inside the UK?”

“What rights and privileges does a BNO have in the UK?”

“Can Hong Kong BNOs invest in UK property?”

“What UK tax will I pay when moving to Britain?”

Are you paying too much tax when moving to the UK?

Our property tax specialists help over 1,000 monthly retained UK landlords and property investors to minimise tax whilst building their wealth.

There are many reasons why people pay far more tax than they need to.

This is because:

– They do not know what they do not know.

– They have not spoken to a tax specialist to go through their situation to see what tax reliefs are available to them.

– Their accountants or solicitors are not aware of the many reliefs available to their clients and are not taken advantage of.

– Tax legislation changes but either the person or their accountant/tax specialist have not been made aware.

What are the basics of British National Overseas?

As property accountants serving property investors across the UK, we understand that the legislation covering British National Overseas (BNO) can be confusing and overwhelming.

HMRC has complicated guidelines in place for the taxation of those moving into and out of the UK.

As experts in tax efficiency for our clients, we ensure that our British National Overseas clients do not fall foul of UK tax legislation.

The Government launched a new visa on 31 January 2021 for people from Hong Kong with British National Overseas status.

This five-year visa will enable BN(O)s and their dependent family members to live, work and study in the UK.

The Hong Kong visa enables BN(O)s to live in the UK for up to five years then apply for permanent settlement and, in turn, British citizenship.

The new Hong Kong visa will also give BN(O)s a route to permanent settlement and British citizenship.

It was created in response to the passing of a new national security law for Hong Kong.

An estimated 5.4 million Hong Kong residents (including 2.9 million BN(O)s and their dependent family members) are potentially eligible.

The Home Office estimates that more than 153,000 people might come to the UK in the first year, then up to 322,000 over the first five years.

BN(O) status was originally offered to people who, before the 1997 Hong Kong handover, had British Dependent Territories Citizenship (BDTC) through a connection with Hong Kong.

BN(O)s could previously use a type of British passport and seek consular assistance and protection from UK diplomatic posts in certain places.

The new Hong Kong BN(O) visa does not require a passport or a specified level of English.

Moving from Hong Kong to the UK

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Why has the UK introduced this new visa system?

Hong Kong was handed from the UK to China under the Sino-British Joint Declaration agreement. The communist country would respect the territory’s capitalist system and the rule of law for 50 years.

This arrangement is known as ‘one country, two systems.

In June 2020, China’s parliament imposed a severe security law on Hong Kong following months of unrest and protest in response to the proposed extradition law.

The UK Government was among those who said it “restricts the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong and constitutes a clear and serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration”.

The new Hong Kong visa launched in January aims to provide residency and then full citizenship in the UK.

This could also mean an influx of BN(O)s investing in British property over the next five years and beyond.

Have a question about property investments, tax or being an expat?

There are a number of free events that will help you build investments/businesses with more comfort and move forwards with confidence.

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Book on a seminar

How do I get a Hong Kong BNO visa? 

Applicants have to buy a Hong Kong BNO visa.

Individuals can pay £180 to apply to stay for two and a half years, which can then be extended by another two and a half years for an additional £180.

Or they can pay £250 to apply to stay for five years.

BN(O)s, and their family also have to pay an additional international health surcharge (IHS) to use the NHS. This costs £624 for an adult and £470 for a child.

Applicants need to prove that they can support themselves and their dependents financial for the first six months of their visa stay in the UK.

Review the Government guidelines on BN(O) visas for Hong Kong before applying.

What is the difference between a BNO and a British Overseas citizen (BOC)?

There has been some confusion between a BNO and a British Overseas citizen (BOC).

A BOC is a member of a class of British nationality largely granted under limited circumstances to people connected with former British colonies which do not have close ties to the UK or its remaining overseas territories.

Individuals with this nationality are British nationals and Commonwealth citizens, but not British citizens.

Nationals of this class are subject to immigration controls when entering the UK and do not have the automatic right of abode there.

About 10,000 British Overseas citizens currently hold active British passports with this status and enjoy consular protection when travelling abroad.

BN(O)s are British nationals and Commonwealth citizens but not British citizens.

When entering the UK, they are subject to immigration controls and do not have an automatic right of abode there or in Hong Kong.

All BN(O)s would have had permanent resident status in Hong Kong when they acquired this nationality.

The UK now allows BN(O)s and their immediate family members to apply for five-year residence visas.

This nationality gives holders favoured status when residents in the UK, allowing them to vote, obtain citizenship and serve in public office or non-reserved Government positions.

Under the current estimated 2.9 million BN(O)s, roughly 623,000 of them hold active British passports with this status and enjoy consular protection when travelling abroad.

Which documents do I need to apply for a British National (Overseas) visa?

When you apply for a BN(O), you’ll need to provide a valid passport or another travel document that shows both identity and nationality.

If you’re a BN(O), you can use a current or expired BNO passport to show your BNO status when applying.

You do not need a BNO passport to travel to the UK.

You also need to provide evidence:

– that you have a permanent home in Hong Kong, the UK, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man

– that you have enough money to support yourself and your family

– of your relationship with family members

– of your tuberculosis (TB) test certificate

Proof of permanent home address needs to be provided on three documents showing the address, including:

– household or utility bills

– a visa, residence permit or immigration document

– payslips or a recent P60

– bank statements

– a letter from the employer confirming employment

– records of rent or mortgage payments

– appointment letter from a GP or healthcare professional

– a letter from the local council or central Government

Your family members will need to provide evidence that their permanent home address is the same as yours.

Proof of having enough money to support yourself and your family for six months needs to be provided, including proof of ability to pay for accommodation.

Documents such as bank or savings accounts statements, payslips, proofs in income from self-employment, proof of income from rental property, a tenancy or mortgage agreement are all acceptable documents.

Proof of evidence of your relationship with family members also applying with you can include a copy of a marriage or civil partnership certificate, a birth certificate, adoption certificate for children, and evidence that their permanent home address is the same as yours.

To find out more about the tax position of BN(O)s coming to the UK, book a consultation with us today.

Must I apply for the Hong Kong BNO visa from outside or inside the UK?

Before applying for a Hong Kong BNO visa, you must apply online, and your permanent home must be in Hong Kong.

As part of an online application, you will need to prove your identity.

How you do this depends on what type of passport you have.

You’ll either use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your BNO, HKSAR or EEA passport, as well as needing to create or sign in to your UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account.

The second route is to go to an appointment at a visa application centre to give your fingerprints and a photo to get a biometric residence permit.

If you use a valid BNO or Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) passport to prove your identity, you do not need to travel to the UK using the same passport.

If you meet the eligibility requirements, you can apply to switch to a BNO visa if you’re already in the UK on a different UK visa.

Family members will usually need to apply at the same time as you.

What rights and privileges does a BNO have in the UK?

BN(O)s are not considered foreign nationals when residing in the UK and are entitled to certain rights as Commonwealth citizens.

These include exemptions from registration with local police, voting eligibility in UK elections, and the ability to enlist in the British Armed Forces.

British Nationals (Overseas) are also eligible to serve in non-reserved Civil service posts, be granted British honours, receive peerages, and sit in the House of Lords.

When travelling in other countries, BN(O)s may seek British consular protection.

A BN(O) is automatically a UK resident if they stay in the UK for 183 days or more, have a home in the UK, or carry out full-time work in the UK.

Can Hong Kong BNOs invest in UK property?

Hong Kong citizens that invest in UK property need to think about tax.

There are different types of tax in the UK that are important to consider when undertaking property investment, including:

– Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) when buying a buy to let property. SDLT is applied when you purchase a UK property, and there is a banded rate with additional surcharges for a Hong Kong citizen looking to buy in the UK. The 3% SDLT higher rate may be avoided if you buy a home and purchase property investments in your name. The 3% SDLT higher rate may also be avoided if you purchase buy to let investments in a Limited Company. There is also a 2% SDLT foreign surcharge if you stay and live in Hong Kong.

– UK income tax and corporation tax for Hong Kong citizens. You will pay income tax on any profits you make on UK property investments. Income tax rates are tiered based on the amount of money you earn and range from 0-45%. A personal tax-free income tax allowance is not given if you invest in the UK buy to let property but remains in Hong Kong. There is a flat rate of 19% on corporation tax based on the profits made in a Limited Company.

We have produced useful information for Hong Kong citizens and UK tax on property investments to review.

Hong Kong citizens buying UK properties for investment should get expert tax advice beforehand.

Have a question about property investments, tax or being an expat?

There are a number of free events that will help you build investments/businesses with more comfort and move forwards with confidence.

Free

Book on a seminar

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