UK Biometric Residence Cards – all that you need to know

Biometric Residence Permit or Cards – What is their purpose? What is the process of getting one, and who is eligible to get one?

The Purpose of the Biometric Residence Permit?

The Biometric Residence Permit or BRP holds the biographic details of the holder. It includes the name, date, and place of birth, as well as the biometric information of the holder. The biometric information on the card is the fingerprints, signature, and the facial image of the card holder.

The Biometric Residence Permit is the proof of the holder’s right to stay, work or study in the UK. The card shows the immigration status of the holder, together with entitlements or access to public services in the UK.

Persons can also use the BRP card as a form of identification.

When traveling to and from the UK, you have to show the card at the border, together with your passport.

Who has to apply for a Biometric Residence Permit?

The Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) is issued to all non-EEA nationals who are staying in the UK for longer than six months.

It will thus be issued to all persons who have successfully applied to settle in the UK, foreign students coming to study in the UK and persons on the long-stay UK work visas.

Holders of short-term visas (shorter than six months), such as a Visitor Visa, do not get a Biometric Residence Card.

Entry Clearance and the Biometric Residence Permit

A successful UK Visa applicant will receive a 30-day sticker in their passport. This entry clearance sticker indicates the person’s grant of leave in the UK.

The entry clearance visa or sticker in the passport is only valid for 30 days once received by the applicant. The visa holder then needs to travel to the UK within this 30-day period.

If an applicant is not able to travel within the 30-day period, they will need to apply for a replacement. Applicants thus have to make sure of the date they intend to travel when they apply for their UK Visa.

The Home Office provides successful visa applicants with a letter with all the details on the collection of their Biometric Residence Permit (BRP).

Applicants then have to collect the BRP card from the designated UK Post Office, within 10 days of their arrival in the UK. If  you do not collect the card within 10 days of arrival, you may face a fine or other penalties.

Even though the requirements for the collection of the BRP cards indicate that a person is allowed to collect the cards for all dependents on the application, some UK Post Offices require all dependents (and even minor children) to be present when collecting the BRP cards.

When you make an application for the extension of stay/leave to remain in the UK, you will automatically receive a biometrics card upon approval.

Biometric Residence Card and British Citizenship

Once a person has successfully applied for his/her British Citizenship and has attended their naturalisation ceremony, they need to send their Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) back to the UK Home Office. You may face a financial penalty if you do not return the card.

For more information, please contact your BIC consultant.

Please also see our article on what to do if your Biometric Residence Card get lost or stolen and How to replace your Biometric Residence Permit after a name change.