What is a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)?
A BRP is a secure and versatile identity card with an embedded chip (enhancing its security to deter forgery and misuse) that non-EEA and non-Swiss nationals are required to obtain when they are granted permission to reside in the United Kingdom for more than 6 months. It is an essential document that verifies an individual’s immigration status and includes biometric information like fingerprints and a photograph.
In the United Kingdom, the Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) is a crucial 86mm x 54mm polycarbonate card that serves as proof of:
- An individual’s identity
- Right to study
- Entitlements while residing in the country
Foreign nationals residing in the UK often require a BRP as a crucial document to serve as proof of their immigration status in the country.
This comprehensive guide for 2023 will provide you with in-depth information about BRPs, including their purpose, application process, renewal, and much more. So, let’s dive into the world of BRPs and understand every aspect associated with them.
Who needs a BRP?
- Want to stay longer than 6 months in the UK
- Need visa extension beyond 6 months
- Settling in the UK
- Transferring visa to a new passport
- Apply for specific home office travel documents
Exceptions When You Cannot Obtain a BRP
Using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ App: If you choose to utilize the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to verify your identity when applying to stay in the UK, you will not be issued a BRP. Instead, you will need to provide proof of your right to live and work in the UK through the online verification process. This method offers a digital alternative to the physical BRP.
Can you use your BRP to confirm your right to work or rent?
When it comes to confirming your eligibility to work or rent in the UK, you’ll need to utilize online verification processes. Your BRP won’t serve as adequate proof of your right to work or rent.
Why Do You Need a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)?
A Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) serves as a multi-purpose document with various essential functions for foreign nationals residing in the UK. Here’s why you need one:
Confirmation of Your Rights:
Your BRP is your official proof of the right to live, study, or work in the UK.
BRPs serve as a critical document for employers, government agencies, and service providers to quickly and accurately verify an individual’s immigration status and eligibility for various rights.
Access to Public Services:
It also verifies your eligibility for public services and benefits that you may be entitled to. Many government and private organizations require BRPs as part of their identification and verification protocols, to ensure compliance with immigration regulations.
Proof of Identity:
Your BRP doubles as a reliable form of identification. For instance, if you intend to open a UK bank account or need to confirm your identity, your BRP is a recognized and accepted means of doing so.
Prospective employers will typically check your BRP to confirm your right to work in the UK. In some cases, your BRP may display your National Insurance Number (NINo) on the reverse side. If it does, there’s no need for separate NINo applications with the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP).
National Insurance Number (NINo):
During the visa application process, if the DWP issues you a National Insurance Number, it will be conveniently printed on the back of your BRP. This streamlines the process for you and your employer, eliminating the need for additional NINo applications.
While you’re not obligated to carry your BRP at all times, it’s imperative to have it when crossing the UK border. When traveling outside the UK and upon your return, your BRP, along with your passport, must be presented. Your BRP indicates the expiry date of your leave and any associated restrictions, ensuring smooth travel experiences.
BRPs are invaluable when individuals must confirm their age for services such as buying alcohol or accessing age-restricted venues. These BRPs contain biometric data and personal information, serving as reliable proof of age. They enable businesses and establishments to ensure compliance with age-related regulations, fostering responsible service provision.
How to Apply for a BRP
Getting your Biometric Residence Permit doesn’t involve a separate application if you’re applying for a UK visa or settlement. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
1. Visa Application: When applying for your UK visa or settlement, you’ll have to schedule an appointment. Inside the UK, this is done at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point, while outside the UK, it’s at a visa application center.
2. Data Collection: During your appointment, your biometric data for the BRP will be collected. If your visa application is approved, you’ll automatically receive a BRP and will be able to collect it when you enter in UK.
You need to apply for a BRP in these cases:
- When your visa details, including your appearance, change.
- If your passport or travel document has expired or was lost/stolen.
- If your BRP or other immigration document is lost, damaged, or stolen.
- If you’ve received indefinite leave to remain and your BRP or other immigration document expires
- If you want to transfer or upgrade your old immigration document to a BRP.
You can complete your application online through the form available on the official gov.uk website. It’s a straightforward process that ensures your immigration status in the UK is properly documented.
Collecting your BRP If you applied for your visa from within the UK:
If you’ve applied for your visa from within the UK, you’ll visit either a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point, a service and support center, or a post office branch and pay a fee of £19.20 for your BRP.
Your BRP will be sent to the address you provided in your application. No need to collect it. It usually arrives within 7 to 10 days after you receive your Home Office decision email or letter, but it might take longer if your BRP delivers to the:
- Isle of Man
- Isles of Scilly
- Scottish Highlands or islands
Royal Mail: You’ll get an email or text with delivery details, and it’ll be posted through your letterbox. You can track it using the 13-digit tracking number ending in ‘GB.’
TNT: They’ll notify you via email or text. An adult (18 or over) must be present to receive it, and they need proof of identity, like a driving license, passport, or a national identity card.
Remember to update the Home Office if your address changes to ensure delivery to the correct place.
If your BRP Doesn’t Arrive:
- Track it on the Royal Mail website.
- Contact Royal Mail for assistance (you must rearrange delivery within 18 days, otherwise it will return to your home office)
- If it’s been more than 21 days, contact the Home Office.
Provide your name, date of birth, nationality, contact information, and decision email/letter. You can also have someone like a legal representative or employer contact the Home Office for you. It’s hassle-free – just follow the steps, and soon your BRP will be at your doorstep.
Collecting your BRP If you applied for your visa from outside the UK
When applying for a visa from outside the UK, the process for obtaining your BRP is straightforward:
1. Visit an Overseas Visa Application Centre (VAC) to provide your biometric data during the application process.
2. After arriving in the UK, collect your BRP before the vignette sticker in your travel document expires or within 10 days, whichever is later.
3. Check your decision letter for collection details, which may specify a named Post Office branch or your sponsor. You can choose a different branch, but you’ll need to arrange and pay for it, provided the selected branch offers BRP collection.
What You Need for Collection:
Bring your passport or travel document with the vignette sticker when collecting your BRP. You’ll receive the vignette sticker upon visa approval.
Collecting a Child’s Biometric Residence Permit:
If collecting a child’s BRP, nomination is required, even if you’re the parent. You’ll be notified of approval within 5 working days. No nomination is needed if you’re also collecting your own BRP and are named on your child’s vignette sticker.
Changing Collection Location:
You can opt to collect your BRP from a different Post Office branch, but you must arrange and pay for this service. The Home Office cannot change the collection branch for you. Ensure your chosen branch offers a ‘BRP collection service.’
Nominating Someone Else:
You can nominate someone else to collect your BRP if a serious illness or disability prevents you from doing so. The Home Office may request proof, such as a doctor’s letter. Your nominated person will need to provide your passport as evidence. This option is not available for reasons other than health-related issues.
If you encounter any issues with BRP collection, such as it not being available at the Post Office, lost travel documents, or uncertainty about the collection location, inform the Home Office. They’ll guide you through the next steps.
Biometric Residence Permit Card Features
A BRP card contains several features that enhance security and make it a reliable form of identification:
- Holder’s Digital Image: The BRP proudly displays the holder’s digital image, ensuring that their identity is visually confirmed at a glance.
- Holder’s Name: The card prominently features the holder’s name, making it clear and unmistakable.
- Valid Until Date: A vital detail, this date signifies the card’s expiration. It’s especially significant because it marks the end of the holder’s authorized stay. For those granted permission to settle in the UK, often known as “indefinite leave to enter,” this date may extend to five or ten years. Why does my BRP card display an expiry date of December 2024? (BRPs have an expiry date, and renewing them before they expire is crucial to maintaining legal residence in the UK. Currently, BRPs are issued with an expiry date set until December 31, 2024, even if your study course or immigration permission extends beyond this date. Starting January 1, 2025, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) intends to display your immigration status online, eliminating the need for a BRP.)
- Place and Date of Issue: This section reveals the location within the UK where the card was issued, followed by the issuance date.
- Type of Permit: Here, you’ll find the holder’s specific immigration category, such as “STUDENT,” which defines their legal status in the UK.
- Remarks – Immigration Entitlements: This section outlines the holder’s immigration entitlements for the duration of their stay. For additional details, one can check the back of the permit.
- Unique Permit Number: Each BRP is assigned a distinctive permit number (like ZW9005196), ensuring that it is unique to the holder.
- Holder’s Signature: A personal touch, the card includes the holder’s signature, further enhancing its authenticity.
- Biometric Chip: An advanced security feature, the biometric chip stores essential information, making it a secure form of identification.
- Holder’s Gender: This important detail reflects the holder’s gender, providing comprehensive identification information.
- Holder’s Date and Place of Birth: The card includes the holder’s date and place of birth, adding to its comprehensive identification data.
- Holder’s Nationality: This feature clearly states the nationality of the cardholder, confirming their identity.
- Remarks: Additional Immigration Entitlements: This area extends immigration entitlements for the duration of the holder’s stay. In specific cases, it may even display the National Insurance Number.
- Machine Readable Zone (MRZ): This ingenious zone enables swift and efficient machine reading of the information on the permit, streamlining various processes.
The Biometric Residence Permit is more than just a card; it’s a symbol of one’s legal status and identity in the UK. With its array of features, it ensures security, authenticity, and convenience for both cardholders and authorities alike.
BRP Number and Serial Number
The BRP card comes with a unique BRP number and serial number. These numbers are essential for various purposes, including checking your BRP status, reporting a lost card, or updating your details.
Your BRP comes with a distinct BRP number, which serves as a vital identifier. It’s essential to keep this number secure and readily accessible when required. This number helps confirm your immigration status and is often needed for various official purposes.
What is national insurance number on BRP:
Depending on your immigration category, your BRP may have your National Insurance Number (NINo) printed on the reverse side. If your NINo is on your BRP, there’s no need to apply separately for it through the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). This simplifies the process for you and your employer when it comes to managing your National Insurance contributions.
While you’re not obligated to carry your BRP at all times, it’s essential to have it with you when crossing the UK border, both when leaving and returning to the country. Your BRP card displays critical information, including the expiry date of your leave to remain and any specific restrictions related to your right to stay.
BRP Status Check
It’s important to regularly check the status of your BRP to ensure that it’s up-to-date and valid. You can do this online through the official government portal using your BRP number and other relevant details
Verifying Your Immigration Status
If you’ve been informed that you can view your immigration status online, you have the opportunity to perform a BRP status check and obtain a valuable ‘share code.’ This share code serves several essential purposes, including proving your immigration status to employers, updating personal information in your UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account, and confirming your rights in the UK, such as the right to work, rent, or claim benefits.
Who Can Use This Service?
To utilize this service, you must have a UKVI account. You may have a UK Visas and Immigration account if you’ve:
- Applied to the EU Settlement Scheme.
- Used the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to verify your identity during a visa application.
- Created an account when applying for a visa, in which case you would have received a UKVI account confirmation email.
If You Don’t Have a UKVI Account
If you don’t possess a UKVI account, there are alternative methods to prove your right to work to an employer or your right to rent to a landlord.
Proving Your Immigration Status Without a BRP
In situations where you haven’t received your biometric residence permit (BRP) or if it has been lost or stolen, you can still establish your immigration status without it. BRPs are not required to confirm your right to work or rent. Instead, you’ll need to provide online proof for these purposes.
Proving Your Immigration Status to the Government or NHS
When you need to verify your status to access benefits or use NHS services, inform the relevant government department, local council, or NHS service provider that your BRP hasn’t arrived. They will then contact the Home Office to confirm your immigration status.
Leaving and Re-Entering the UK
In cases where you must depart and re-enter the UK before receiving your BRP, consider applying for a ‘replacement BRP visa.’ This visa permits a single re-entry into the UK and is available at a cost of £154.
During the application process for a replacement BRP visa, you will need to:
- Specify the country where you will provide your fingerprints and photo.
- Confirm your ability to travel to a visa application center.
If your BRP is lost or stolen
Reporting a Lost or Stolen BRP Within and Outside the UK
If your biometric residence permit (BRP) is ever lost or stolen, it’s crucial to take prompt action. Here’s what you need to know:
Within the UK:
- If your BRP was valid for three months or more, you must report it as lost or stolen and apply for a replacement within three months of its loss.
- Failing to apply for a replacement within this time frame can result in fines of up to £1,000 and potential deportation.
- If your BRP was valid for three months or less, report it as lost or stolen, even if you don’t plan to remain in the UK after its expiry date.
- Alternatively, if you intend to leave and re-enter the UK within three months of its expiry date, you can apply for a replacement or extend your visa if you wish to stay beyond its expiry date.
Outside the UK:
- If your BRP is lost while you are outside the UK, report the loss immediately.
- You cannot apply for a replacement BRP from abroad. Instead, you’ll need to apply for a ‘replacement BRP visa,’ which allows a single re-entry to the UK at a cost of £154.
- Once you return to the UK, apply for a replacement BRP within three months of reporting it as lost or stolen, unless you have a valid reason for the delay.
Finding Someone Else’s Biometric Residence Permit:
If you come across someone else’s lost or stolen BRP within the UK, ensure you send it to the Home Office in an envelope without a window. Do not include any additional items or documents.
Replace an expired BRP
What to Do When Your BRP Expires
Replacing an expired biometric residence permit (BRP) depends on your location and your current immigration status:
If you have indefinite leave to remain or enter:
- If you possess indefinite leave to remain or enter, use the BRP replacement service from within the UK.
- The decision on your application is typically received within six months of applying online.
- Upon approval, your new BRP will be sent to you along with your decision letter.
If Your Visa Is About to Expire:
- If your visa is nearing its expiration date, you cannot utilize the BRP replacement service.
- Instead, you must apply to extend your visa or apply for a new one.
- If granted, you will automatically receive a new BRP along with your visa.
If You Hold a Biometric Residence Card (BRC):
- BRCs, also known as ‘UK residence cards,’ differ from BRPs.
- You might have a BRC instead of a BRP if you are in the UK as a family member of someone from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein and do not possess a visa.
- BRCs are labeled as ‘residence cards’ and have distinct renewal procedures.
If You’re Outside the UK:
- Replacement of an expired BRP from abroad is not possible.
- Instead, apply for a ‘replacement BRP visa’ that enables a single re-entry to the UK. This service costs £154.
- Ensure you prove your identity at a visa application center to complete your application.
- Decision times are typically within three weeks from identity verification.
- Once approved, your new BRP will be sent to you along with your decision letter.
BRP Renewal Process
Understanding the BRP Renewal Process if you detect any mistakes or issues such as potential damage to your BRP
The renewal of your biometric residence permit (BRP) is essential to maintaining your legal status in the UK. Here’s a concise overview of the process:
- If you ever detect errors in the duration or conditions of your visa after receiving your BRP, and you applied for your visa from within the UK, you have the option to request an administrative review.
- Additionally, you can report other issues online, such as damage to your permit upon arrival or errors in your details.
- Prompt reporting of these issues, within 10 days, is crucial to avoid potential replacement fees.
- Changes to personal details should also be reported promptly.
BRP Return – Proper Handling of Your Older BRP in case you find it after ordering a new one
Once you receive your replacement biometric residence permit (BRP), it’s crucial to ensure the proper disposal of the older one. Here’s what you should do with your older BRP:
Returning Your Older BRP:
- When your replacement BRP arrives, take immediate action to securely dispose of your older BRP.
- Cut your older BRP into pieces to render it unusable and prevent any misuse.
- Make sure to cut through your personal details, the royal coat of arms, and, if your card has one, the gold biometric chip.
- Safely dispose of the cut-up pieces to protect your personal information from falling into the wrong hands.
Why Returning Your Older BRP is Important:
- The return of your older BRP is not just a matter of disposal; it helps safeguard your identity and privacy.
- By rendering the old BRP unusable, you reduce the risk of identity theft or fraudulent activities associated with the discarded card.
Collecting Your BRP: Essential Steps for Students, Tourists, and Immigrants
Collecting your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) in the UK can be a breeze when you have the right information at your fingertips. Whether you’re a student, a tourist, or an immigrant, these steps are your go-to resource to solve all the problems related to BRP collection.
Remember to Bring Your Passport and Entry Permit:
Whenever you go to collect your BRP, it’s crucial to have your passport with the enclosed entry permit on hand for verification.
When you collect your BRP?
Collect ASAP! The clock starts ticking upon your arrival in the UK, and you have a crucial 10-day window to secure your BRP. This pivotal step can be accomplished either at your institution, such as LSHTM (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine), or at the designated Post Office branch. Don’t forget to bring along your decision letter for verification.
The Consequences of Delay
Failure to collect your BRP within the specified 10-day timeframe is not a minor oversight; it can lead to significant repercussions. You may find yourself facing a civil penalty or fine, and in the worst-case scenario, your visa could be at risk of cancellation. To avoid these unwanted complications, it’s imperative to prioritize BRP collection upon your arrival in the UK.
What to Verify When Collecting Your BRP?
When the moment arrives to collect your BRP, take a moment to double-check the following details:
Your Name and Date of Birth:
- Ensure that the information on your BRP accurately reflects your name and date of birth. Any discrepancies should be addressed promptly.
Type of Permit States Student Visa:
- Confirm that your BRP specifies your status as a Student Visa holder. This distinction is crucial for ensuring that you have the right to study in the UK.
Valid Until Date:
- Pay close attention to the “Valid Until” date on your BRP. It should extend for four months beyond the end date of your course. This timeframe is designed to cover any additional arrangements or plans you may have after your studies conclude.
Collection from the University – Using the ACL Code
Streamlined BRP Collection for University Students
Students starting in Michaelmas Term 2023 can enjoy the convenience of collecting their BRP right from their College. This streamlined process makes it easier than ever for students to obtain their Biometric Residence Permit. Here’s how:
Enter the Correct ACL Code:
Make sure you’ve entered the correct Alternative Collection Location (ACL) code in your online student visa application. Your code depends on your course, so double-check it against the provided list. Under the section ‘Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) Collection’, enter the code in the ‘Alternative Location’ field.
Wait for the BRP: If you’ve used the ACL code, your BRP will be ready for collection at your College in early October. Your College will get in touch to make the necessary arrangements. Please note that it won’t be available earlier than this, so plan your arrival accordingly.
BRP Collection from a Post Office
For those not using the ACL code and using the residential and sponsor postcode instead, can collect their BRP from a Post Office.
Find Your Named Post Office Branch
Here’s how to find the named Post Office branch that suits you best:
- Check Your Decision Letter: The decision letter you receive with the outcome of your visa application will typically specify the collection point. If it’s not mentioned, refer to your original application form for the location details.
Collecting your BRP from a different Post Office branch
In cases where the initially designated Post Office branch isn’t suitable for you, you have the flexibility to choose a different branch for BRP collection. Here’s how to go about it:
- Contact Your Preferred Post Office Branch: Get in touch with the Post Office branch you wish to use for BRP collection. They will guide you through the process and inform you of any associated fees.
- Arrange the Collection: Arrange the collection of your BRP at the chosen Post Office branch. Keep in mind that the Home Office cannot make this change for you; it’s something you must arrange yourself.
- Check for BRP Collection Services: Before finalizing your decision, ensure that the selected Post Office branch offers a ‘BRP collection service.’ This confirmation is essential to guarantee a smooth and hassle-free collection process.
Planning your travel and ensuring the correct entry procedures
Here are some crucial tips to ensure you enter the UK without any issues:
- Check Your Entry Vignette: Your entry vignette is the sticker in your passport that allows you to enter the UK. Make sure you don’t arrive before the ‘valid from’ date or after the end date specified on this vignette.
- Avoiding Tourist Entry with a Student Vignette: If you have a student vignette but enter the UK as a standard visitor (tourist) before your course officially begins, you may face difficulties. It’s important to note that this approach doesn’t allow you to switch to your student visa from within the UK, even if your entry vignette is already stamped in your passport.
Why You Can’t Start Your Course as a Visitor
Entering the UK as a tourist when you intend to study as a student can pose challenges. You won’t be able to commence your course in this status. Instead, you’ll need to exit the UK and re-enter within the validity period of your entry vignette. This process activates your immigration permission as a student, enabling you to start your studies without any hitches.
EU Settlement Scheme: Securing Your Post-Brexit Status in the UK
- The EU Settlement Scheme is designed for EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens who are living in the UK.
- It covers individuals and their family members who arrived in the UK before the end of the Brexit transition period.
- To begin the process, visit the official EU Settlement Scheme website.
- Create or log in to your user account. Ensure you have the necessary identity documents and information ready.
- Complete the online application form, providing details about your residence in the UK.
Updating Your Details:
- Keep your personal information up-to-date within your EU Settlement Scheme account.
- You can make updates regarding your passport number, contact details, or any significant life events.
- Regularly review and edit your profile to ensure its accuracy.
Application for a Biometric Residence Card (BRP):
- If required, you can apply for a Biometric Residence Card (BRP) through the EU Settlement Scheme.
- The BRP application process includes biometric data collection and verification.
Deadlines and Procedures:
- Stay informed about the deadlines for applications under the EU Settlement Scheme.
- Make sure to follow the required procedures diligently to secure your status in the UK.
- Seek assistance from the official resources and helplines if you encounter any challenges during the process.
Benefits of Settled Status:
- With a granted settled status, you can continue living and working in the UK without disruption.
- Access to healthcare, education, and other public services will be protected.
- Your settled status ensures your rights and protections under UK law.
- Remember that the EU Settlement Scheme also covers eligible family members.
- Ensure that each eligible family member applies separately, providing the necessary documentation.
Changing Address with Home Office
If you change your address while residing in the UK, you must update your details with the Home Office. Failure to do so can result in complications with your immigration status.