Collecting your Biometric
Residence Permit (BRP)
on arrival in the UK

A Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) is a document issued to foreign nationals who have been granted a visa or immigration permission to live, study or work in the UK.

Your BRP is an important document which provides evidence of your immigration status in the UK, and collecting your BRP is one of the final stages involved in the visa application process. In this guide, we explore who needs a BRP and the different options available for collecting it once you arrive in the UK.

What is a BRP and who needs one?

A Biometric Residence Permit is used to confirm your identity and your right to work, study or access services in the UK. You will usually get a BRP if you apply to come to the UK for longer than 6 months, if you apply to extend your visa for longer than 6 months, or if you apply to settle in the UK.

A BRP card is a physical document, similar in size to a credit card and contains your personal details and information about your immigration status such as:

  • Your name, date and place of birth
  • Your biometric information (fingerprints and photo)
  • Your immigration status and any conditions of your stay
  • Whether you can access public funds such as benefits or health services

You do not need to carry your BRP with you at all times, but you will need to show it when you are asked to demonstrate your immigration status, for example when proving your right to work or right to rent.

You will not get a BRP if you proved your identity using the UK Immigration: ID Check app when you applied for your visa. If you used the app, you will not receive any physical documentation to prove your right to be in the UK, and you will instead be granted a digital immigration status which can be checked and proven to others using the Home Office’s online service.

How to collect your BRP

You do not need to file a separate application for a BRP, it will be automatically issued when your visa or immigration application has been successful. How you collect your BRP depends on where you made your visa or immigration application.

If you applied from inside the UK, your BRP will be sent to you via courier at the address provided in your application, and you will not need to collect it. You will usually receive it within 7 to 10 days of getting your decision letter from the Home Office.

If you applied from outside the UK, you will need to collect your BRP once you have arrived in the UK. You will usually need to collect it before the vignette sticker in your travel document expires or within 10 days of arriving in the UK, whichever is later.

You must be over 18 to collect a BRP. If you need to collect a child’s BRP, you must be nominated to do so, even if you are the child’s parent. You do not need to be nominated if you’re also collecting your own BRP and you are named on your child’s vignette sticker.

BRPs can be collected from either:

  • A Post Office branch
  • An Alternative Collection Location (ACL).

Collecting from the Post Office

BRPs can be collected from a named Post Office branch anywhere in the UK which offers this service. You can use the Post Office branch finder to locate your nearest branch. You will need to bring your passport or travel document with your vignette sticker in when you come to collect your BRP.

Collecting from an ACL

If you cannot or do not wish to collect your BRP from a Post Office branch, there is another option. Certain organisations can request to become an accredited Alternative Collection Location (ACL) if they meet the Home Office eligibility requirements.

ACL accreditation allows BRP cards to be sent directly to the ACL to distribute to their students, clients or employees. It negates the need to attend a Post Office branch to collect your BRP and is often more convenient. ACL accreditation is offered to:

  • Tier 4 sponsors
  • Tier 2 and Tier 5 Premium Sponsors, their representatives and agents
  • A small group of other very large volume Points-Based System Sponsors
  • Legal representatives.

Smith Stone Walters is pleased to offer this service to our clients, with both our UK office locations accredited as ACLs. This means that you can choose to have your BRP sent to our office address where it will be held securely until you can collect it. Your dedicated Account Manager will take receipt of your BRP when it arrives at the SSW office, and notify you when it is ready to collect.

Changes due to COVID-19

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the Home Office has implemented some changes to the Biometric Residence Permit collection process.

If you are collecting your BRP from a Post Office branch, there are some exceptions to the 10 day collection window. If you are self-isolating because of coronavirus, the Post Office will keep your BRP for 60 days and you can collect it once you have finished your period of isolation. If your Post Office is closed because of coronavirus, your BRP will be safely stored until it reopens.

The future of BRPs

The Home Office has already shared its long-term vision of implementing a fully digital immigration system, which will see increased use of online application processes and digital immigration statuses. As apps and e-visas are rolled out on a wider scale, it is likely physical documents such as Biometric Residence Permits will also be phased out over the coming years in favour of digital systems which can be accessed from anywhere.

In the meantime, you can find out more about using SSW as an Alternative Collection Location by calling us on 0208 461 6660 or emailing

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