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Biometric Residence Permits (BRPs)

Since 25th November 2008, instead of being issued with a visa extension in the form of a sticker in their passport, students and dependants are issued with an extension in the form of a separate card called a Biometric Residence Permit or BRP.

At some point in 2015 BRPs will also be rolled out to applicants applying for a Tier 4 student visa outside of the UK. They will be required to collect it within 10 days of arrival in the UK. Successful applicants will received a letter informing them of the decision which will include notification that they must collect their BRP from a designated Post Office branch within 10 days of arrival. The passport or travel document will also be endorsed with a 30 day short validity (travel) vignette which will be valid for 30 days from the expected date of travel provided by the applicant- to enable them to travel to the UK and to collect their BRP. Further news about this development will be available soon.

What are they?

BRPs provide information that help public agencies, employers and educational establishments more easily understand the migrant’s entitlements.

To create the BRP, the Home Office collect fingerprints and a facial image, otherwise known as biometrics.

Why have they been 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, extremely secure and widely accepted way for any foreign national to prove their immigration status.

What does the BRP look like?

It is the shape 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 if they are required to register with the police. The card includes a microchip which contains two of the cardholder’s fingerprints, and the photo on the front is a digital photo. Please see the Home Office website to see an example of a BRP.

Will foreign nationals have to carry their BRP at all times?

The BRP does not need to be carried at all times. However, the card will need to be produced for specified immigration purposes such as returning to the UK from travelling abroad.

How long is a BRP valid for?

A BRP is valid for the duration of the person’s limited leave, or for a maximum of 10 years.

What will I need to do if I am making a postal student visa extension application?

The Home Office will wait until they have processed the fee for the extension application before sending you (and your dependants) a biometric notification letter.

The letter will ask you (and your dependants) to attend a local Post Office branch in order to have your biometrics taken. You have up to 15 working days from the date of the letter to do this. The nearest Post Office to Cardiff University is on the lower ground floor of Queens Arcade (No. 45-46), Queen Street, CF10 2BY. To help you find it, go to Bing Maps and type in the post code.

  • You need to take the bar coded biometric notification letter from the Home Office to the Post Office
  • It will cost £19.20 per person
  • Your biometrics will be captured by taking your photograph, fingerprints and digital signature
  • All information will be sent securely to the Home Office.

You can watch a step by step guide video on how biometric enrolment works on the Post Office website.

Find out more information on biometric enrolment on the Post Office's Frequently Asked Questions website.

After making a visa application, please do not make any arrangements to travel until you have received your documents and your BRP. Normally you should receive your BRP within 4 weeks of enrolling your biometrics at the Post Office.

What will I need to do if I am making a premium in-person student visa extension application?

If you are going to make your visa extension application in person, you will have your biometric details taken during the appointment at the Premium Service Centre. There will not be a charge for giving your biometrics.You will not be given your student visa (the BRP) on the day of the appointment, but will have to wait for it to be sent to you by post, normally within 10 working days.

Remember that you do not have your visa extension until you have the BRP. Do not make any arrangements to travel until you have received the BRP.

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 will be required to show it at the border (together with your national passport) to confirm your immigration status.

What if my personal details change?

Anyone holding a BRP will be required to notify the Home Office of changes to the personal data it holds. Draft legislation sets out fines payable by anyone who fails to comply. The personal details which must be kept up to date include name, address, nationality and gender.The Home Office website explains the process that should be followed if any of these personal details change.

What will happen if my BRP is lost or stolen?

We have produced an FAQ outlining the procedures you must follow if your BRP is lost/ stolen in the UK or abroad:


What are the benefits of the BRP?

It will make it easier to:

  • provide proof of your right to live in the UK
  • prove your identity safely and quickly where and whenever this is required
  • get a job as potential employers can use the card to check future employees’ identity and employment status quickly and easily.

Where can I get further information?

Further information about the cards is available on the Home Office website.

UKVisas have provided a short video about providing your biometrics on YouTube.


Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information herein, Cardiff University can accept no responsibility for errors or omissions. Cardiff University is not responsible for the content or reliability of the linked websites and does not necessarily endorse the views expressed within. The government makes changes to the immigration rules and procedures on a regular basis, so it is important that you check the current guidance and rules when applying for a visa. For further information visit UKCISA and the Home Office websites.