BRP cards: what are they good for?

Legal Updates

BRP cards are used in the UK for a variety of immigration purposes, but we hear many stories of difficulties with them.

This article will explain what a BRP card is and what it is used for. It will also explain common problems, solutions, as well as the future of BRP cards. 

What is a BRP card?

BRP stands for biometric residence permit. Your BRP card is a small card with your name, date and place of birth, your fingerprints and a picture of you. It has information about your immigration status on it. You can use your BRP card as proof of your identity.

Your BRP card can be used to show your:

  • identity
  • right to study
  • right to any public services/benefits you’re entitled to
  • your National Insurance Number, if you have one

The BRP card is different to the ARC (application registration) card – this is the card you have if you are seeking asylum in the UK and have not yet received a decision from the Home Office. 


How to order a BRP card

You will need a BRP if you:

  • apply to come to the UK for longer than 6 months
  • extend your visa to longer than 6 months
  • apply to settle in the UK
  • transfer your visa to a passport
  • apply for certain Home Office travel documents 

In order to receive a BRP, you must first enrol your biometrics. This means you will have to book to attend a biometrics appointment to have your photo taken and your fingerprints recorded. 

How long should it take to receive my BRP?

If you made your visa application outside the UK, you will have to collect your BRP card from a given address. There is a fine if you do not collect it within the time frame given. Read the government website for more information on applying for a BRP from outside the UK here

If you made your visa application from inside the UK, you should receive your BRP card within 7 to 10 days after receiving your decision letter. It will be sent to the address you provided in your application. For this reason, it is very important to make sure that the Home Office has your up-to-date address.

Delays in receiving BRP card

Many people experience a long delay in receiving their BRP card. This can be extremely frustrating and difficult, especially if you need your BRP to prove your identity. 

If you have experienced a long delay in waiting for your BRP card, here are some steps you might be able to take:

  • Send an email to this email address: brpdelivery@homeoffice.gov.uk, explaining that your BRP has not arrived and how long you have been waiting.
  • Contact your local MP to ask for their assistance. Explain the length of the delay you have experienced, and the issues it is causing to you and your family. 
  • Make a complaint to the Home Office using this link, and follow up in writing if you can.
  • You can also use this email address: complaints@homeoffice.gov.uk to make a complaint.
  • If you have a lawyer and you are experiencing a very long delay, they might be able to send a PAP (Pre Action Protocol letter; this is a letter that is sent before legal action is taken) to the Home Office. 
  • After that, the only option is a judicial review. This is something that a lawyer should help you with. You can read more about judicial review in our Toolkit here.

Can I apply for Universal Credit without a BRP card?


Yes, it is possible to apply for Universal Credit without a BRP card. This article from Free Movement confirms that you do not need your BRP card to apply for Universal Credit. 

This is in response to the problems faced by newly recognised refugees who were unable to apply for Universal Credit due to a delay in receiving their BRP.

If your BRP has not yet been received or if it has incorrect or missing information, you can use your ARC card along with your refugee decision letter from the Home Office. You must present these documents together when you apply. 

What happens if there is a mistake on my BRP card?

Sometimes the Home Office will print a BRP with the wrong information on it. This can be very frustrating. 

When you receive your BRP, check it carefully for any mistakes. You have 10 days from when it arrives to report any mistakes. You can report issues with your BRP card using this website.

Problems with delivery 

It is important to keep your address up to date, so that you receive correspondence from the Home Office or your BRP card.

If you did not receive your BRP, due to it being delivered to the wrong address, try contacting BRPDelivery@homeoffice.gov.uk or brperror@homeoffice.gov.uk. You can ask for the BRP number and Royal Mail Tracking number. 

Sometimes the Home Office will say that it delivered your BRP, but you did not receive it. You might be able to try contacting this email address asking where it is: reinstatements@homeoffice.gov.uk

How can I order a replacement BRP card? 

Try and keep your BRP card safe. If your BRP card is lost or stolen, you can apply for a replacement. Sometimes, when people try to order a replacement, they are told they need to pay a fee for an appointment. 

You do not need to pay this fee if you are a refugee and if you cannot afford the fee. Log on to the system to book the appointment at 9am, and you should be able to see free appointments there when they are released.

You may need to pay if you are in the UK on a student visa, a spousal visa or a work visa.

What is the future of BRP cards? 

BRP cards issued now will usually have an expiry date of 31 December 2024. The Home Office has announced that on the 31st December 2024, BRP cards will be abolished. 

This does not mean that your permission to stay expires on this date, but that you will have to prove your identity digitally (online) after the 1st January 2025. 

We do not have a lot of information about what this change will mean yet. But it is likely that you will have to have a UKVI account, to show your immigration status online. 

Read the government website here for more information. If you know anyone affected by problems with the government’s online system, you can use 3million’s Report It Tool here.

2 comments on “BRP cards: what are they good for?

  1. jackie Fearnley on

    My friend, who has refugee status, is sure that the reason he can’t get a credit card is because he had to show his BRP card to the bank, and that they then thought that he would have to leave the country on December 31st of this year.
    Also what a stupid date to choose for any kind of upheaval, where people might need to get urgent help from the Home Office. Those days after Christmas and around New Year are still holiday for many people.

    Reply

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