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An international student’s guide to getting a UK Biometric Residence Permit

biometric residence permit
Planning to study int he UK? Here's all you need to know about getting your Biometric Residence Permit . Source: Justin TallIs/AFP

Picture this: you are reading about applying for your Tier 4 student visa and see the term “Biometric Residence Permit” (BRP). 

You know it’s important. After all, your uni has told you to keep your BRP card safe at all times to confirm your identity, right to study and right to any public services or benefits you’re entitled to.

How do you get your BRP card, though? Here’s all you need to know about this crucial piece of document you will need as an international student in the UK: 

biometric residence permit

Your Biometric Residence Permit is a form of ID that proves your identity as an international student in the UK. Keep it with you at all times. Source: Ben Tansall/POOL/AFP

How to apply for your UK Biometric Residence Permit: A guide

What is a BRP?

Think of your BRP card as a form of identification, so you don’t have to carry your passport wherever you go.

Some BRP cards will have a National Insurance number (also known as an NI number) printed on the back.

If you don’t have one and plan to work in the UK, you should apply online. Here’s a handy guide about all you need to know about the NI number as an international student. 

Who needs a BRP card?

Every international student studying for more than six months in the UK has to apply for a BRP. 

How do I apply?

You do not have to make a separate application for your BRP since they are part of your student visa application.

Once it is approved, head to your nearest visa centre to provide your fingerprints and photo. They are your biometric information for your BRP. 

Here, you can arrange to collect your BRP card from your uni or the nearest post office to your UK residence.

Remember to bring your passport (which should have a vignette sticker) when collecting your BRP.

What to look out for when I receive my BRP card?

Your BRP card will contain:

  • your name, date and place of birth
  • your fingerprints and a photo of your face (this is your biometric information)
  • your immigration status and any conditions of your stay
  • whether you can claim any benefits and or access health services
biometric residence permit

Remember to apply online for a replacement Biometric Residence Permit if it was lost or stolen. Source: Benson Ibeabuchi/AFP

What should I do if I lose my BRP card?

Report that your BRP card is lost or stolen regardless of whether you are in or outside the UK.

A legal representative from a charity, employer, college or uni can report to the Home Office on your behalf. The Home Office will contact you within one working day. 

Do note that you can only apply for a replacement in the UK. Meanwhile, read here to find out how you can prove your immigration status while you wait for a replacement BRP. 

Pro tip: Apply for a replacement BRP if yours is lost or stolen outside the UK. It costs 154 pounds and lets you re-enter the UK once.

Once you are back in the UK, apply for another BRP card.

What should I do when my BRP card is about to expire?

When your student visa expires, you must extend it or apply for a new visa to get a new BRP card. 

Do I need to register my personal details with the local police force?

Here’s some good news: the Home Office has announced that they are abolishing the Police Registration Scheme under UK immigration rules.

This previously applied to certain foreigners residing in the country for more than six months.

This means international students are no longer required to register their personal details with the local police force.