What is a Biometric Residence Permit?

UK Biometric Residence Permit

This article about Biometric Residence Permits was updated by the Great British Mag content team on 8 September 2021

A Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) is a secure identity card that you can use to prove that you have permission to study and live in the UK. It contains your personal details such as your name, your birth date and your visa status. It also contains your biometric information including your photograph and fingerprints. 

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We have answered all the common questions about BRPs but if you still have questions after reading this article you should ask your university for help. Visit the international office or enquire at Student Services. 

Do I need a BRP? 

If you are an non-EEA national and are studying in the UK for more than six months, you will need a BRP. Luckily they are issued as a part of the Tier 4 visa so you will not have to complete a separate application. You will just have to collect the card when you arrive in the UK. 

What are the benefits of a BRP? 

A BRP is not a substitute for a passport. However having a BRP will make it easier to do lots of things including: 

  • Prove that you have a valid visa 
  • Quickly and safely prove your identity 
  • Prove to employers that you have the right to work in the UK 

How do I get my BRP? 

Getting your BRP is simple. Your photograph, fingerprints and signature will be taken as part of your visa application. If you wear a head covering for religious or medical reasons you will not have to take it off.

When your student visa is granted, a vignette sticker will be placed in your passport. The vignette will be valid for 30 days. It gives you permission to enter the UK so you must travel to the UK before the vignette expires. 

Once you are in the UK, you must collect your BRP within ten days. Many UK universities arrange to have their students’ BRP cards sent to campus. Ask your university where to go to collect your BRP. When you go to collect it, bring your passport and your UKVI decision letter (the letter that states that you have been granted a visa). If you need anything else your university will tell you. 

And that is it – a very simple process! However, it is also important that you collect your BRP within ten days. Otherwise you could be fined up to £1,000! 

How long is a BRP valid for? 

Your BRP will be valid for the duration of your visa. If you choose to extend your current visa or switch to a different one, you will have to apply for a new BRP. 

What if there is a mistake on my BRP? 

Any mistakes on your BRP should be reported to the Home Office within ten days. If you wait longer than ten days you may have to pay for a replacement card. You can report problems online. 

You should also report broken or damaged cards to the Home Office. 

Is a BRP a replacement for a passport? 

No, it is not; you will still need to show a passport whenever you travel internationally. However be sure to bring your BRP with you when you travel outside the UK. When you return to the UK you will have to show it to a Border Control officer along with your passport. The officer may scan one or two of your fingerprints and check them against the ones stored in your BRP to confirm your identity. 

What if my BRP gets lost or stolen? 

If your biometric residence permit is lost or stolen you are legally obligated to report this to the Home Office and to apply for a replacement. You can be fined or even made to leave the UK if you do not apply for a replacement within three months. 

You can apply for a replacement from within the UK so do not worry, you will not have to leave the country. The Home Office will contact you within one working day of reporting it. 

If your BRP is lost or stolen whilst you are travelling outside the UK you must report it to the Home Office. You cannot apply for a replacement BRP outside the UK so you will need to apply for a “replacement BRP visa” which will allow you to re-enter the UK once. It costs £154. Once you are inside the UK you can replace your BRP. 

What if my personal details change? 

If you change any of the information that your BRP holds – such as your name, address, nationality or gender – you must notify the Home Office as soon as possible. This can be done online. 

You may also want to read

How to travel to the UK safely this academic year – 2021

What will September look like in UK universities?

How to open a bank account in the UK