Important update to the
Biometric Residence Permit
(BRP) process

As part of ongoing improvements to the customer journey, UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) has streamlined parts of the Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) process for customers applying for certain visas with a duration of more than 6 months.

From 10 October 2022 Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) letters are now issued via email. Physical letters will no longer be provided at the Visa Application Centre (VAC). Customers are therefore reminded to use their own personal, up-to-date email address, or one that they have easy access to, when completing their visa application. It may be necessary to check your spam/junk folder in order to receive this email. Customers will still need to collect their BRP card once they arrive in the UK.

Smith Stone Walters often receives questions from clients regarding BRPs. Following the recent announcement, we would like to take this opportunity to address some frequently asked questions about this important immigration document.

What is a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) and who needs one?

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.

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.

You will not get a BRP if you used the UK Immigration: ID Check app to prove your identity 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 do I collect my BRP when I arrive in the UK?

If you applied for your visa from overseas, 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. BRPs can be collected from either:

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

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.

If you do not wish to collect your BRP from a Post Office branch, the alternative option is to use an Alternative Collection Location (ACL). Certain organisations such as legal representatives or large-volume sponsors can request to become an accredited ACL if they meet the Home Office eligibility requirements.

Smith Stone Walters is pleased to offer this service to our clients, with both of our UK office locations accredited as ACLs. By instructing SSW to manage your visa application, you can choose to have your BRP sent to our office address where it will be held securely until you can collect it or we can send it to your address. Your dedicated SSW Account Manager will take receipt of your BRP when it arrives at the SSW office, and notify you when it has arrived.

How do I get my BRP if I applied in the UK?

If you made your visa or immigration application from inside the UK, your BRP will be sent to the address you gave in your application. You do not need to collect it. Your BRP will usually arrive within 10 working days of getting your ‘decision letter’ from the Home Office saying that you can remain in the UK.

Can I use my BRP to prove my right to work?

No. Recent changes to the rules around right to work and right to rent checks mean that employers and landlords can no longer accept BRPs when carrying out these checks on prospective employees or tenants. You will need to prove your right to work online or prove your right to rent online instead.

However, your BRP can still be used to confirm your:

  • Identity
  • right to study
  • right to any public services or benefits you’re entitled to.

How can I prove my status without a BRP?

You may be able to prove your immigration status a different way if you have not received your BRP yet, or if your BRP is lost or stolen.

If you need to prove your status to get benefits or use the NHS, you should tell the government department, local council or NHS service you’re dealing with that your BRP has not arrived. They will contact the Home Office to confirm your status.

If you need to leave and re-enter the UK before you get your BRP, you can apply for a ‘replacement BRP visa’. This will let you re-enter the UK once only. It costs £154. When you apply, you’ll need to:

  • choose the country you’re going to provide your fingerprints and photo in
  • confirm that you can travel to a visa application centre.

What should I do if my BRP is lost or stolen?

You can report your BRP as lost or stolen from inside or outside the UK. You can only apply for a replacement from inside the UK. The Home Office will contact you within one working day of reporting it. You can get someone to report it for you, for example a legal representative, a charity, employer, college or university.

If you are in the UK and your lost or stolen BRP was valid for 3 months or more, you must report it and apply for a replacement. You must do this within 3 months of losing it. You can be fined up to £1,000 and made to leave the UK if you do not apply for a replacement within 3 months.

If you are in the UK and your lost or stolen BRP was valid for 3 months or less, you must do one of the following:

  • report it as lost or stolen if you do not intend to remain in the UK after its expiry date
  • apply for a replacement  if you plan to leave and re-enter the UK within 3 months of its expiry date
  • apply to extend your visa if you want to stay in the UK after its expiry date – if granted, you’ll automatically get a new BRP.

If you are overseas, you must report your lost or stolen BRP outside the UK. You cannot apply for a replacement BRP outside the UK. Instead, you’ll need to apply for a ‘replacement BRP visa’, which lets you re-enter the UK once only. It costs £154.

You can apply for a replacement BRP when you return to the UK. You must do this within 3 months of reporting it lost or stolen unless you have a good reason, for example you were unable to return to the UK in that time.

I have found my BRP after reporting it as lost or stolen – can I still use it?

No. You will not be able to use your BRP if you find it after you report it lost or stolen.

If you’re in the UK, you’ll still need to apply for a replacement. If you’re outside the UK, you’ll still need to apply for a ‘replacement BRP visa’ to travel back to the UK before applying for a replacement.

When your replacement arrives, you should cut your older BRP into pieces and post it to the Home Office at the following address:

Returns Unit
PO Box 195
BS20 1BT

Why does my BRP expire on 31 December 2024 when I have permission to stay for longer?

All BRPs now expire on or before 31 December 2024. This is because the Home Office intends to stop issuing BRPs beyond this date and will be transitioning to digital immigration statuses.

You do not need to tell the Home Office if your BRP expires on 31 December 2024 but your immigration status (for example, your visa) allows you to stay longer. You will not need a BRP from 1 January 2025. You’ll be able to prove your immigration status online, without a BRP.

UKVI will update their information on how to prove your immigration status in early 2024. You do not need to do anything and your immigration status will not be affected.

Speak to an immigration advisor

If you have any questions about your BRP, please contact UKVI for help.

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