Everything you need to know about the Biometrics Residence Permit (BRP)

Want to know more about the UK Biometrics Residence Permit, or BRP as we commonly refer to it as? We've put together an entire article dedicated to this topic! Might not be the most exciting read but it should prove informative!

What exactly is the BRP?

The Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) is a residence permit which holds your biographic details (name, date and place of birth) and biometric information (facial image and fingerprints) that you provided at your appointment as part of your UK visa application process. It shows your immigration status and entitlements while you remain in the UK.

How do I apply for a BRP?

You don't actually apply for the Biometrics Resident Permit as it is something that is included as part of your visa application. If your application is successful then the BRP card will printed and sent to the post office ready for you to collect when you arrive.

If you have not yet applied for your visa, then you might be interested in this article - Which UK Visa do I need to apply for? or Everything you need to know about the Tier 5 Visa.

What does the BRP look like?

It is a small credit card sized piece of plastic that looks like a drivers licence - see the image above.

Why do I need a BRP?

Basically this drivers licence style card is your evidence to prove you have the right to live and work in the UK. There are several occasions where you will be asked to provide it:

Where do I collect my BRP from?

You’ll need to collect your BRP from a UK Post Office branch. When your passport is returned you will also receive a ‘decision letter’ which will tell you the address.

The specific branch is decided by the postcode you enter as your UK address in your application- it will be the closest Post Office to this address. So when entering your UK address, remember that this is going to be used when locating a local Post Office.

Can I use my BRP as an ID card?

I would seriously advise against this! We have had sooooo many BritBounders lose their BRP whilst out 'on the lash!'. To replace it can take a few weeks, if you have any tours or travels planned then you might be faced with the issue of getting back into the UK at the end of your holiday.

When can I collect my Biometrics Resident Permit?

If your visa application is successful then you will receive an accompanying piece of paper that provides the location of the Post Office where your BRP will be stored, ready for you to collect. This letter will have a date printed on it, this is the date that you can collect your BRP. It will be helpful to have the letter when you collect your BRP so take this with you to the UK as well.

Note - the post office chosen is based on the accommodation postcode that you give when you apply for your visa. So don't use your great granny in Scotland unless you are planning on staying with her, as your BRP will be sent to the closest post office to her address!

Can I collect my BRP before the date on the letter?

You can certainly try, there is nothing to stop you going before the date on the letter. We always advise everyone to go as soon as they get here regardless of the date given on the letter. Because you need the BRP to get a few of the formalities underway.

I have forgotten to collect my BRP within the 30-day window

Oops! Well firstly go along and see if it's there. I believe they actually keep the BRP cards for 3 months. But not sure where I read that! But we've certainly had people go and successfully collect it after the 30-day window.

If it is not there then you can report this here and start the process of getting a replacement one - https://www.gov.uk/biometric-residence-permits/not-arrived

Will I need my BRP to travel?

Yes always take your BRP when you go travelling. It is essentially proof that you can enter the UK without having to show an exit route. Whether or not you will be asked to show your BRP largely depends on the country. Some countries, Portugal for example will ask you to provide evidence of your work visa when returning to the UK.

Help! I've lost my BRP card!

Eek! Sorry to hear this - right so you need to go here and start the process of applying for another one. https://www.gov.uk/biometric-residence-permits/lost-stolen-damaged

You are advised not to as this is your evidence of your right to live and work in the UK. Though reading through several forums it sounds like the Immigration process at Heathrow is now automated and you now scan your passport into a machine. Apparently, it does not ask you for your BRP. But proceed with caution here, if you are requested to speak to an Immigration official instead of the machine, you will need to have an explanation ready.