What is a Biometric Residence Permit?

A biometric residence permit (BRP) is an identity card given to those who have been granted a visa that allows them to stay in the UK for six months or more. A BRP can be used as proof of identity, right to study and right to any public services or benefits that a person may be entitled to. Your BRP card will include personal and biometric information, including:

  • Name, date of birth and place of birth
  • Immigration status
  • Fingerprints and passport-sized photograph of your face
  • Status on access to public funds and services

If you applied for your visa from outside of the UK, your passport will be endorsed with a visa or entry clearance vignette (sticker), which is valid for up to 90 days. You will be told where to collect your BRP once you arrive in the country – normally from a local Post Office, or your place of study if you are entering as a sponsored student.

If you submitted an immigration application from inside the UK, you should receive your BRP within 10 days of receiving your decision letter. Your BRP will be sent to the address that you provided in your application.

If your BRP has not arrived within 10 working days of receipt of your decision letter, you will need to contact the delivery company to track the delivery of your BRP. To do this, you will need the postcode of the address that you gave in your application and the nine-digit consignment number from the BRP delivery emails.

If the delivery company is unable to assist, and you still have not received your BRP, you can report this to the Home Office here.

You will not need to apply for a BRP if you want to use the UK Immigration: ID Check app. Instead, you will need to follow the UK government’s online process for proving your right to live and work in the UK.

In the following guide, you can find more information about BRPs, including what they are used for and what to do if you have issues with yours. For more advice on BRPs and your immigration status, speak to our team today.

What is a biometric residence permit used for?

Your BRP will be used to confirm your identity and right to work, study and use public services while you are in the UK. If you apply for a BRP card from within the UK, you should receive it by courier. If you apply for your BRP from outside of the UK, you must collect it once you arrive in the UK before the vignette sticker on your travel document expires.

How to apply for a biometric residence permit

When you apply for a UK visa that requires you to submit biometric data, you will be provided with a BRP if applicable to your visa route. However, if you do not have one and wish to apply, you may be able to do so if your passport or travel document has been lost or stolen, or if the biometric identifying details on your visa have changed.

To be able to apply for a new BRP, you must already be inside the UK and will need to do so through a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) appointment. You will need to attend your appointment in person so you can provide your fingerprints and an updated photo.

The requirements of your BRP application, including the fee you will need to pay, will depend on the requirements of your visa. For guidance on these requirements, you should speak to our team of expert immigration solicitors; we will be able to assess your situation and advise you on what information you will need to gather and provide at your UKVCAS appointment.

FAQs about biometric residence permits

How long is a biometric residence permit valid for?

The length of time that a BRP remains valid depends on the type of visa you hold or are applying for, and the date that it was granted. BRPs typically last for 10 years. However, for recent visa applications, this is changing – the EU ruled that new BRPs should be set to expire on 31st December 2024 due to new regulations regarding processes for registering biometric data. While UK visa and passport holders are no longer held to this EU requirement, the UK Home Office is still working towards digitalising BRPs, therefore, the 2024 deadline still remains.

If you apply for a new BRP, it is likely that it will have an expiry date of 31st December 2024. You do not need to report this to UKVI.

UKVI is in the process of phasing out BRPs and hopes to do this by 1st January 2025. From this date, you will be able to prove your immigration status online without needing a BRP. Further information regarding this will be provided by UKVI in due course. For more information about this and future identification obligations, speak to our expert immigration solicitors for visa status advice.

Do I need a National Insurance number?

If you do not already have a National Insurance number, you will need to apply for one. Having a National Insurance number is a requirement for working, claiming benefits, applying for a student loan and paying voluntary National Insurance contributions.

My biometric residence permit contains mistakes - what should I do?

You must report any problems with your BRP within 10 days of receiving it. To report any problems, you will need your BRP number, your full name, date of birth and nationality as they appear on your BRP, and an email or postal address. You can report this to the Home Office here.

If you do not report these problems within 10 days, you may have to apply and pay for a replacement BRP.

Can I show my biometric residence permit to demonstrate my right to work?

No – employers must conduct an online check for holders of BRPs. Our detailed article that sets out how employers must carry out a right-to-work check can be found here.

What should I do when my biometric residence permit expires?

If your BRP is set to expire before the universal 31st December 2024 end date, you will need to apply for further permission to stay in the UK. To do so, you must already be in the UK and must attend a UKVCAS appointment in person to provide your fingerprints and a photo. In some instances, UKVI can re-use biometric information previously provided – they will let you know if this is the case.

How long does it take to get a biometric residence permit?

When you apply for a new BRP, you will need to wait for a decision letter from the Home Office. This decision typically takes up to eight weeks for non-settlement cases. If you are applying for a BRP in relation to a settlement application, it can take six months. These timings vary significantly.

Where is the biometric residence permit number?

You can find your BRP number printed on the top right of your residence card. It will begin with two letters and consist of six numbers, laid out like this:


What does a biometric residence permit look like?

A BRP is a small wallet-sized card. It looks like a classic UK driver’s licence, made of tough plastic and laminated to protect against weathering. UK residence cards have the following layout:

  • The text ‘Residence Permit’ printed in capital letters at the top
  • Your photo in the bottom left corner
  • The UK royal coat of arms on the right
  • Your BRP number is in the top right corner
  • Your name, expiry date, issue date, type of permit, and details of your employment agreement and immigration status in the centre column

UK residence cards are typically red with a blue central column.

How do I apply for a new biometric residence permit if it is lost or stolen?

If you are inside the UK and your BRP was valid for three months or more, you must report this to the Home Office and apply for a replacement. You must do this within three months of your BRP being lost, otherwise, you face the risk of a significant fine.

If your BRP was valid for less than three months, you must still report it as lost or stolen to the Home Office. You should then apply for a replacement BRP if you plan to leave and re-enter the UK within three months of its date of expiry.

If you are outside the UK, you must report your lost or stolen BRP to the Home Office. You cannot, however, apply for a replacement BRP from outside the UK. To re-enter the UK, you will need to apply for a replacement BRP visa that allows you to re-enter the UK on one occasion. Once you have arrived in the UK, you will then be able to apply for a replacement BRP; you must do this within three months of reporting it lost or stolen.

You will not be able to use your BRP if you find it after you have reported it as lost or stolen.

If you need to apply for a new BRP due to yours being lost or stolen, you will first need to report it. To do so, you must send an email to BRCLost@homeoffice.gov.uk. Once you do this, it will cancel your BRP and you will then need to apply for a new one. You should make sure to report your lost BRP as soon as you are sure you do not have it.

If you are in the UK, you must report your BRP as lost and apply for a new one within three months of the date of losing it, otherwise, you could be fined £1,000 and made to leave the UK. Holding a BRP is a legal requirement for those in the UK on certain visas.

If you are outside of the UK, you will need to apply for a replacement BRP visa instead. You can not apply for a new BRP outside of the UK as, to do so, you need to be able to attend a UKVCAS appointment in person. You must apply for a replacement BRP visa within three months of losing your BRP card and it will cost you £154. This document will allow you to legally re-enter the UK once, and you can then apply for a proper BRP once you are back in the country.

How much is biometric residence permit?

Applying for a BRP costs a fee of £161. If your application is unsuccessful, you will be required to start the application process again, which includes paying the fee again.

Is there any advice on returning a BRP card to the Home Office?

If you are successful in your application for British citizenship, you must return your BRP card to the Home Office within five days of receiving your citizenship certificate. When you return your BRP card, you must do the following:

  • Cut your BRP into at least four pieces
  • Place the pieces in an envelope that does not have a window anywhere on it
  • Place a note in the envelope stating that you have attained citizenship

It is essential that you take these steps as doing so will stop anyone from stealing your biometric data, which they could use for identity theft.

For more advice on returning a BRP card after naturalisation, speak to our expert immigration solicitors today.

Do I need a solicitor to apply for a biometric residence permit?

Before you take any steps towards applying for a BRP, visa or citizenship, you should speak to a UK legal professional – such as the immigration experts at Latitude Law. UK immigration law is highly complex and changes frequently.

Any mistakes that you make during any immigration application can have significant effects on your chances of success, carry high costs and take time to rectify. To ensure you avoid any costly mistakes, speak to our team as soon as possible. We will be able to assess your current situation and advise you on what you need to do and how to best handle your issues. We will guide you through the entire process of applying for a BRP.

We understand that having visa issues while you have travel plans coming up or are in an unfamiliar country can be extremely stressful. We will help you to understand any confusing aspects of your situation by explaining the relevant laws and legal processes surrounding your circumstances using jargon-free language. Using their extensive and up-to-date understanding of the UK’s immigration laws, our expert solicitors will work with you every step of the way to ensure you have the best chances of success.