Biometrics and BRP
What are Biometrics?
Biometrics is the technical term for body measurements and calculations, or biological measurements. Put simply, these are the methods we use to prove a person’s identity.
They are used to identify you on documents and throughout the UK immigration process. In UK immigration applications, your biometrics will involve:
- A digital photo of your face
- A scan of your fingerprints
- A copy of your signature
This information has to be provided for all UK immigration applications.
When this information is taken it is kept on the Home Office’s database. This is handled with the UK’s strict data protection laws, to make sure your details are kept private.
What is the process for giving Biometrics?
Giving Biometrics for Applications Within the UK
If you are applying from within the UK, you will give these biometrics at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point. This biometrics process is managed by private company Sopra Steria, who took over the system in November 2018.
It costs £19.20 to give your biometrics. This will be added to the main Home Office fees for your application.
When you pay for your application and your biometrics fee you will be emailed an access code. This is used to book an appointment through the UKVCAS online portal. This appointment will be where you give you biometrics. The appointment can be booked at any of the UKVCAS core centres or service points across the UK.
Core centres are larger locations and offer some free appointments, whilst service points are all found in local libraries.
It may cost you an additional fee for appointments at certain hours of the day at core centres. It will cost you an additional fee for appointments at a service point. For more information regarding these fees and this part of the process please see Step 3 of our dedicated UKVCAS guide.
When you attend your appointment, you will need to take your confirmation email, your passport and your supporting documents with you. These will all be returned to you at the end of the appointment.
At the appointment a photo of your face will be taken. You must take off glasses or sunglasses during the photograph. You also must remove any headwear, headphones or Bluetooth headsets. You won’t be asked to take off your head covering if you wear it for religious or medical reasons.
You will also need to put your fingers on a glass screen to be scanned. This means your fingerprints are taken electronically, so there will be no ink, liquid or chemicals. You should not wear henna when you provide your fingerprints.
Finally, you will need to provide your signature. This will all be done at self-service biometric kiosks, with UKVCAS staff on site to help you.
Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult to provide biometrics, but children do not have to provide their signature. Children under 5 also don’t need to give their fingerprints.
The entire processing time for giving biometrics should be less than 5 minutes, though there might be a longer waiting time.
Giving Biometrics for Applications Outside of the UK
If you are applying from outside of the UK, you will give biometrics at a Visa Application Centre (VAC).
There are VACs in most countries in the world. To find your nearest VAC please see the full gov.uk list. You will be asked to book an appointment at your nearest VAC when making your application.
When attending your appointment, you need to take your passport and your documents with you. These will normally be kept at the VAC until your application has been fully processed. This means you will need to leave your passport and documents at the VAC, and they will contact you following your decision to let you know you can collect them.
When you attend your appointment it will work the same way as those applying from within the UK, in the section above. You will have your photograph taken, as well as give your fingerprints and your signature.
The processing time for giving the biometrics should be less than 5 minutes, though the waiting time may be longer.
For further information regarding the full process of applying from outside of the UK, please see our Entry Clearance guidance page.
What is a BRP?
BRP stands for Biometric Residence Permit. These are given to everyone applying to come to the UK for longer than 6 months, as well as those applying to extend visas to longer than 6 months. They are also given to those applying to settle in the UK.
Your BRP is a card (similar to a credit card) that includes:
- Your full legal name
- Your date and place of birth
- Your biometric information (a photo of your face, your fingerprints and your signature)
- Your immigration status and the conditions of your stay
- Whether or not you can access public funds such as benefits and health services
- Some BRPs will also have your National Insurance (NI) number printed on the back
BRPs are issued to visa applicants for use as proof of identity. They are also used to prove your right to study or work in the UK, or to prove the public services or benefits you are entitled to.
The BRP will look similar to the following example (taken from Home Office guidance notes):
- Holder’s photo
- Holder’s name
- Valid until – the date the permit expires
- Place and date of issue
- Type of permit – this is the immigration category the holder is in
- Remarks – these are the immigration entitlements for the length of the holder’s stay
- Unique permit number
- Holder’s signature
- Biometric chip
- Holder’s gender
- Holder’s date and place of birth
- Holder’s nationality
- Continuation of 'Remarks', see #6 above
- Machine readable zone
How do I get my BRP?
Getting your BRP for Applicants from within the UK
If you have applied from inside the UK then your BRP will be sent to you directly by courier. This means you don’t need to go anywhere to collect it.
Your BRP will be sent to the address that you gave in your application. If you want your BRP to be sent elsewhere then you must update your address before getting your decision letter.
The waiting time for receiving a BRP is within 7-10 days of getting your decision letter.
Getting your BRP for Applicants from outside of the UK
If you have applied from outside of the UK then you must collect your BRP once you enter the UK.
Once your application has been approved, you will receive a vignette sticker in your passport. This vignette sticker allows you to travel into the UK and is valid for 30 days. It is important to travel within this 30 day limit, as otherwise you must apply for another vignette sticker which costs an additional fee.
In most cases the vignette sticker will start on the date you said you intended to travel to the UK when making your application.
Once you have arrived in the UK you will need to check your decision letter. On it you will be told to collect your BRP from either a named Post Office branch or an Alternative Collection Location (ACL).
Collecting your BRP from an ACL is only an option for applications including a sponsor. If you have selected an ACL option, your decision letter will tell you where to collect your BRP, and your sponsor will tell you when and how.
When you go to collect your BRP you must take your passport or travel document with your vignette sticker with you.
You must be nominated to collect a child’s BRP even if you are their parent. However, you don’t need to be nominated if you’re also collecting your own BRP and you are named on your child’s vignette sticker.
If you can’t collect your own BRP or want to nominate someone else to collect your child’s, you must do so through this link.
You can only do this if you have a serious illness or disability preventing you from collecting your BRP yourself. The nominee must have a passport, an EU national identity card or their own BRP. The Home Office will inform you within 5 working days if the person you have nominated is approved.
If you would like to collect your BRP from a different Post Office branch you can do so, but you must arrange this at the branch and pay a fee.
Please note you must collect your BRP or you could be faced with a fine of up to £1,000.
What do I do if I have problems with my BRP?
If you have applied from within the UK and have not received your BRP within 10 days you can follow this link to report it. The Home Office will email back within 5 working days.
If you’ve applied from outside of the UK and are having any problems collecting your BRP, you should fill in this online form. The processing time for this form is 5 working days, though it can take longer if you don’t provide an email address.
If any of the information on your BRP is incorrect, or the BRP was damaged when it arrived, you must report it to the Home Office using this online form. The processing time for this form is also 5 working days, though it can take longer if you don’t provide an email address.
You should report any problem with your BRP within 10 days of receiving it, otherwise you may have to apply and pay for a replacement.
What do I do if I’ve lost my BRP or my BRP has been stolen?
If your BRP has been lost or stolen from within the UK, you must report it and order a replacement within 3 months of losing it. If you don’t apply for a replacement within 3 months you can be fined up to £1,000.
If your BRP has been lost or stolen outside of the UK you must also report it using the link above. However, you cannot apply for a replacement BRP from outside the UK. Instead you have to get a replacement BRP visa, which lets you enter the UK only once. It costs £154 for a replacement BRP visa. You must apply for a replacement BRP within 1 month of your return to the UK. To apply online go to this web address and follow the Apply for a replacement BRP visa online link.
White Rose Visas are able to provide our full assistance with replacement BRP applications. If you would like our support in making your application, or are having BRP troubles that you’d like to discuss in further detail, please contact our office directly.
For further information on biometrics and BRPs, see the relevant Home Office guidance.