UK Biometric Residence Permits and BRP Card
As a migrant to the UK, you will most likely be issued with a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) as proof of your rights during your stay. In this article, we will explain the purpose of a UK Biometric Resident Permit, the differences between a UK Biometric Resident Permit and a UK Biometric Residence Card, how to apply for a Biometric Resident Permit, and what to do if your Biometric Resident Permit is lost, stolen, damaged, or expires.
What is a Biometric Resident Permit (BRP)?
A UK Biometric Resident Permit (BRP) card is similar in appearance to a driving licence and is given to immigrants to the UK to confirm their immigration status. Not everyone will receive a BRP; you will typically receive one if you:
- Are coming to stay in the UK for over 6 months
- Apply to extend your visa beyond 6 months
- Settle in the UK (e.g. if you hold Indefinite Leave to Remain or EU Settled Status)
Important: Please note that as of 6th April 2022, it will no longer be possible to use a UK BRP card to prove your right to work or rent in the UK. Instead, you will need to use the online right to rent checking service1 or the online right to work checking service2
provided on the UK government website. You’ll need to prove your right to work or prove your right to rent online instead. However, you can continue to use your BRP to confirm your identity, right to study and right to access public services and benefits
A UK BRP card contains several pieces of information, including the following:
- digital image of the holder
- name of the holder
- The expiry date of the BRP (i.e. the end of the time the holder is allowed to stay in the UK; for those who have settled in the UK, this may be 5 or 10 years)
- Place and date of issue
- Date of issue
- Type of permit (i.e. the type of immigration status held – e.g. Student)
- Any remarks made by the Home Office
- UK biometric residence permit number
- Holder’s digital signature
- Biometric chip
- Holder’s gender
- Holder’s date and place of birth
- Holder’s nationality
Difference between a UK Biometric Resident Permit (BRP) and a UK Biometric Residence Card (BRC)
Biometric residence cards (BRC) (also referred to as EAA biometric residence cards) used to be issued to foreign nationals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who had gained permission to live and work in the UK because of their relationship with a family member from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein (EEA). BRPs were given to foreign nationals who did not have a family member from the EEA.
Important: It is no longer possible to apply for an EEA BRC. If you hold a BRC, it is no longer valid to prove your right to live or work in the UK. For this reason, you will need to apply for another form of permission. You may still be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme for pre-settled or settled status, which will allow you to stay in the UK and acquire an EU settlement scheme biometric residence card. As the deadline for the EUSS was 30th June 2021, you may need to have a valid excuse for making a late application. You must have been living in the UK before the end of 2020.
How long is a biometric residence permit valid for?
A Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) is usually valid for the length of time the holder has permission to stay in the UK. For example, if you hold a Skilled Worker visa, your BRP may be valid for up to 5 years. The maximum period a BRP can be valid for is 10 years. You will need to apply for a new BRP before your existing permit expires.
Why do you need a UK Biometric Resident Permit (BRP)?
You need a UK BRP to prove your identity and your right to:
- rent property
- access public services, and
- claim benefits to which you are entitled
The Home Office requires that you apply for a BRP if you are a foreign national who is staying in the UK for more than 6 months (i.e. it is a legal requirement). This includes if you hold a visa to be in the UK (e.g. overseas students, investors, business people, and long-term workers).
How to apply for a Biometric Resident Permit (BRP)?
You will not need to apply for a BRP. Rather it will be created as part of the immigration application process. You will, however, need to provide your fingerprints and photo for your BRP. To do this, you will normally be asked to make an appointment at a UKVCAS service point (or a visa application centre if you are outside the UK). You will have a digital photo taken of your face and be asked to put your fingers on a glass screen to be scanned. The biometric residence permit cost is £19.20.
If you applied for your immigration status inside the UK, your BRP will be posted by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to your address. If you applied outside the UK, you will need to collect your BRP within 10 days of arriving in the UK. You will be told where to collect your BRP, either from a named Post Office branch or your sponsor.
If you need to stay longer in the UK, you will receive a new BRP once you have extended your stay.
How long does it take to get a UK biometric residence permit card?
The UK biometric residence permit card processing time is usually 10 days from the date of your immigration decision letter (i.e. you should receive your BRP within 10 days of the decision letter being received). The Home Office advises this can take longer if you are located in the Isle of Man, Isles of Scilly, or Scottish Highlands or islands.
If your BRP is delayed
The Home Office recommends that if you have not received your BRP within 10 days of your decision letter, you should contact the courier (TNT). This is also the case if you missed the delivery of your BRP. You will need to give TNT the postcode of the address you gave in your application and the 9 digit consignment number. They will then be able to rearrange the delivery of our BRP.
If your BRP has not arrived
If your BRP has not arrived and you have not been able to resolve the matter with the courier, you will need to contact the Home Office using the online reporting service3. You will need to provide your full name, date of birth and nationality, and an email or postal address. You may also be asked for details on your decision letter. In most cases, you will receive a reply within 5 days.
What If your BRP Card is lost, stolen, or damaged
If your BRP is lost or stolen, you need to report this to the Home Office within 3 months and apply for a replacement. You can only apply for a replacement of your BRP from within the UK. To do so, you must report4 your BRP as lost or stolen on the Home Office website and then apply5 for a replacement. If your BRP is simply just damaged, you can just apply for a replacement without reporting it stolen. To apply for a replacement, you will need to:
- fill in the BRP application form
- pay the application fee
- have your fingerprints and a photo taken
If you are outside the UK, you can apply for a replacement BRP visa at the cost of £154, which will allow you to re-enter the UK, at which point you must apply for a BRP within 3 months of arrival.
Important: If your BRP has been lost or stolen, you could be fined up to £1,000 and required to leave the UK if you do not apply for a replacement within 3 months.
What do you do when your Biometric Resident Permit expires?
If your BRP is about to expire, you will need to extend your visa or apply for a new visa. Once this has been processed, you will automatically receive a new BRP. As such, you do not need to apply for a new BRP if yours is about to expire, but you will need to extend your immigration status.
Do you need a Biometric Residence Permit when you have an ILR?
Those with Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) do not need to apply for a biometric residence permit but holding one can make it easier to prove your rights and travel into and out of the UK. In this case, you can apply for a No Time Limit (NTL) BRP6 to prove your settled immigration status.
How can Reiss Edwards help?
Our immigration Solicitors possess a wealth of experience in helping migrants with their biometric residence permits. Our team of immigration Solicitors can:
- Advise what to do if your BRP has been lost, stolen, or damaged
- Recommend the best steps to take if your BRP is about to expire
- Explain what to do if you are outside of the UK and your BRP has expired
- Resolve any matters regarding your BRP or BRC.
1 GOV.UK: Proving your right to rent
2 GOV.UK: Proving your right to work
3 GOV.UK: Waiting for BRP
4 GOV.UK: Lost or Stolen BRP
5 GOV.UK: BRP Replacement Service
6 GOV.UK: No time limit