Biometric Residence Permits

What is a Biometric Residence Permit?

If you apply for a Tier 4 (General) visa extension within the UK then your visa will not be issued in the form of a sticker (vignette) in your passport. Instead it will take the form of a separate card called a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). Similarly, if you apply overseas for a Tier 4 visa for a (non English langauge course) of more than 6 months, you will only receive a one month vignette in your passport and will have to collect your BRP card on arrival.

To create the BRP, the Home Office collects fingerprints, a facial image and your signature, otherwise known as your 'biometrics'.

Why were they introduced?

Taking an image of a person’s face and fingerprints and then locking them to that person’s details on a national register provides a very safe and secure way of identifying that person and helps to combat illegal working and reduce illegal immigration to the UK. The card provides a convenient, secure and widely accepted way for any foreign national to prove their immigration status.

What does the BRP look like?

It is the shape and size of a credit card and shows the cardholder’s photo on the front, together with personal details and information about their immigration status. It shows whether the cardholder is allowed to do any work and may show if they are required to register with the police. The card includes a microchip which contains two of the cardholder’s fingerprints, their signature and the photo on the front is a digital photo.

Do you have to carry your BRP with you at all times?

The BRP does not need to be carried at all times and should really be kept in a safe place (such as with your passport). The card needs to be produced for specified immigration purposes such as returning to the UK from travelling abroad.

How long will a BRP be valid for?

Your BRP will be valid for the duration of your visa, or for a maximum of 10 years.

What will I need to do when leaving and re-entering the UK?

If you have a BRP and you leave the UK and want to re-enter, you are required to show it at the border (together with your national passport) to confirm your right to enter the UK.

What if my personal details or circumstances change?

Anyone holding a BRP is required to notify the Home Office of changes to the personal data it holds. The personal details which must be kept up to date include: name, address, nationality, course of study and gender. The Home Office  have produced a leaflet that outlines what to do in each of these cases and is found on the Home Office website.


Failure to update your details can result in a £1000 fine and/or a shortening of your visa.

What will happen if I lose my BRP?

If you lose your BRP then you must report this to the Home Office and then apply for a replacement card. The IISA team will help you with this. Information regarding this can also be found on the Home Office  website.

A £1000 fine will apply if cardholders fail to report their cards lost or stolen, and any leave to remain may be shortened.

Where can I find more information?

Further information about the cards, including pictures of they look like, is available on the Home Office website.