Biometric Residence Permits – All you need to know

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Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants receive many questions on Biometric Residence Permits or BRPs. The consultants at Breytenbachs have subsequently compiled a list of facts you need to know about your BRP.

Uses of the Biometric Residence Permit

Persons with a BRP can use the card to confirm their identity, right to study, and access to public services or benefits (where applicable).

It is no longer possible to use your BRP to confirm your right to work or rent. You need to prove this online at the links below;

Prove your right to work to an employer – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Prove your right to rent in England – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Note that you do not need to prove your right to rent in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Persons eligible to receive a BRP

The UK Government usually provide a BRP in the following circumstances:

  • If you receive a UK visa to come to the UK for longer than six months;
  • To persons who extend their visa to a period longer than six months;
  • Persons who apply to settle in the UK;
  • In cases where you transfer your visa to a new passport;
  • Persons who apply for certain Home Office travel documents.

Important to note is that you do not need to apply for your BRP card separately.

Information on your BRP

A BRP will include the following information about the holder:

  • Name
  • Date and place of birth
  • The holder’s fingerprints and photo
  • Immigration status and conditions of stay in the UK
  • Details of whether the holder has access to public funds such as health services.
  • Some persons have their NI number printed on the back of the BRP.

Providing Biometric Information for your BRP

The Home Office will ask you to provide fingerprints and a photo if you are getting a BRP. They will take a digital photo of your face and take your fingerprints via a digital scan on a glass screen. This process will be part of your visa application.

If you are inside the UK, you will usually go to a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point or a Service and Support Centre (SSC).

If you apply for a UK visa from outside the UK, you will be asked to provide your biometrics at a visa application centre (VAC).

Children under the age of 16 have to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian when they submit their biometric information.

National Insurance Number and BRP

Some persons have their NI number printed on the back of their Biometric Residence Permit.

If your National Insurance (NI) number is not on the back of your BRP and you do not already have one, you will have to apply for your NI Number. You only need to apply for the NI number if you plan to work, claim benefits, apply for a student loan or pay Class 3 voluntary NI contributions.

You can only apply if you are already in the UK.

You can apply for the NI number at the following link – Apply for a National Insurance number – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Biometric Residence Permits vs Biometric Residence Cards

There is a difference between a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) and a Biometric Residence Card (BRC).

BRCs have the words’ residence card’ printed on them. The UK Government issues BRCs to persons in the UK as family members of someone from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein.

Biometric Residence Permits only valid till December 2024

Many clients are very concerned that when they receive their Biometric Residence Permit (BRPs), it is only valid till 31 December 2024, although their leave to stay in the UK is beyond that date.

The Home Office guidance state that UKVI will update their information on how to update your BRP in early 2024. Clients do not need to do anything. The date on the BRP will not affect their immigration status. It will not affect your right to work, access to services, benefits or travel.

The simple reason for the BRPs not being valid past 31 December 2024 is that the UK Government intends to introduce new technology. The current cards will thus be replaced by 31 December 2024.

Receiving your BRP if you applied for a UK visa from inside the UK

Persons who made a visa application from inside the UK will receive their BRP at the address you gave in your visa application. You do not need to collect your BRP.

Getting your BRP if you applied for a UK visa from outside the UK

Persons who applied for their UK visa from outside the UK need to collect their BRP once they are in the UK. You will usually have to collect your BRP before the vignette sticker in your passport expires or within ten days of arriving in the UK. Whichever date is later.

The instructions on where to collect your BRP will be on your visa decision letter. It will be a named Post Office branch. Or it will be delivered to your sponsor if you chose this option in your visa application.

Persons will have to be older than 18 years to be able to collect their BRP. You have to be nominated to collect a child’s BRP, even if you are the child’s parent. However, you do not need to be nominated if you are also collecting your BRP and you are named on your child’s vignette sticker.

If you cannot collect your BRP due to a serious illness or disability, you can nominate someone to collect it on your behalf. You will have to prove that you cannot collect your BRP in person, like through a doctor’s letter.

Mistakes on your Biometric Residence Permit

If you receive your BRP and there are any spelling mistakes, other mistakes or damages to your card, you have to report it within ten days. You can do this online. Mistakes can include;  wrong information such as your name, gender, date of birth, or if the BRP was damaged when you received it.

The Home Office says that if your name is long, it may appear ‘cut off’ on your BRP. The ‘cut off’ is not a mistake, but due to limited space on the BRP card.

Lost or Stolen BRP

If your BRP was lost or stolen, you have to report it. It is possible to report it from inside or outside the UK. The Home Office will contact you within one day from reporting it.

To report your lost or stolen BRP, use this link:

Where are you now? – GOV.UK (biometric-residence-permit.service.gov.uk)

You can also apply for a replacement BRP, but only if you are inside the UK. Please use this link:

Biometric Residence Permit Replacement Service (visas-immigration.service.gov.uk)

Change of Circumstances and your BRP

Address Changes

If your address change, you do not need to apply for a new BRP. You can report the address change online at the link below:

 UKVI – Change your address or your legal representative’s details – When to use the form (visa-address-update.service.gov.uk)

Other Changes

You must apply for a BRP immediately in anyone of the following cases:

  • Name changes, for example, if you got married;
  • Changes in nationality;
  • Facial appearance changes;
  • Corrections to date of birth;
  • Gender changes.

You have to apply for the new BRP within three months and could be fined up to £1,000 or have your stay in the UK shortened if you do not apply in time.

You have to pay for the replacement BRP. You can apply online at this link:

Biometric Residence Permit Replacement Service (visas-immigration.service.gov.uk)

Change of Circumstances

You also have to report any other changes to your details, such as:

  • Criminal Convictions
  • Separation from your partner
  • Children who stop living permanently with you.

You can report these types of changes to circumstances at this link –

Notification of change of circumstances: form MCC – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

BRP and British Citizenship

One of the most important steps to take after you have received your certificate of British citizenship is to return your BRP. You have to return your Biometric Residence Permit to the Home Office within five working days of receiving your British citizenship certificate. The Home Office can fine you up to £1,000 if you do not post it back within five days.

You have to cut the BRP up into four pieces and post it back to them in a windowless envelope. You must include a note stating you are returning the BRP because you have received citizenship. You also have to include your name, date of birth and BRP number. The address is:

Naturalisation BRP Returns
PO Box 195
Bristol
BS20 1BT

How Breytenbachs can help you

If you have any further queries on your BRP card, please do not hesitate to get in touch with your Breytenbachs consultant.