This section explains whether you will need a biometric residence permit (formerly known as an identity card for foreign nationals) during your stay in the UK. It also tells you how to apply for a permit, and lists your responsibilities as a permit holder.
A biometric residence permit is a card which holds:
It also shows your immigration status and your entitlements while you are in the UK.
Depending on your immigration category, you may need to apply for a biometric residence permit if you apply for permission to extend your stay in the UK. The categories of migrant who must currently apply for a permit if they want to extend their stay are listed at the bottom of this page.
You cannot apply for a biometric residence permit unless you are applying to extend your stay in one of the categories listed under 'More information' below.
When you apply to extend your stay in the UK, the application form will tell you whether you must also apply for a biometric residence permit. You will use this form to apply to extend your stay and to apply for a biometric residence permit. You will also need to enrol your biometric information with us.
For more information about your responsibilities as a holder of a biometric residence permit, see the Permit holders' responsibilities page.
You do need to apply for a biometric residence permit if you are currently in the UK and you want to extend your temporary permission to stay here in one of the following immigration categories:
Also, you must apply for a biometric residence permit if you use form TOC to request a transfer of your temporary permission to stay in the UK from an old passport or similar document.
You do not need to apply for a biometric residence permit if you are:
If you make your application to extend your stay in the UK by post, we will send you a letter after we have received your application. You should then enrol your biometric information at one of 17 Crown post offices across the UK, or at one of our biometric enrolment centres. For more information, see the Enrolling your biometric information - postal applications section.
If you make your application in person at one of our public enquiry offices or using our super premium service, you will enrol your biometric information on the same day. For more information, see the Public enquiry offices and Super premium service sections.
Enrolling your biometric information is a quick and clean process. We photograph your face digitally, then you put your fingers on a glass screen to be scanned. There is no ink or mess.
The process takes less than 5 minutes, although the appointment will be for approximately 30 minutes.
We are extremely aware of the need to protect applicants' dignity, privacy and modesty. There will be special arrangements for applicants where needed.
If you (or any dependants who are applying with you) have a medical or physical condition which may require special arrangements to be made for enrolling your biometric information, you must enclose documentary evidence of the condition when you apply to extend your stay.
Appropriate documentary evidence would be a letter from a treating clinician (such as a practising doctor registered with the General Medical Council). This should give details of your condition, and of any arrangements that may be necessary.
If you are physically unable to provide fingerprints, we will photograph your face digitally and make a record on our database that you cannot provide fingerprints. You wil not be able to use the biometric enrolment service at a post office branch.
If you apply by post, we will post your permit to you by secure delivery, separately from the decision about your application and the return of your documents.
If you apply at a public enquiry office, we will post your permit to you by secure delivery after your appointment. Permits cannot be issued on the same day as your appointment.
We advise you not to book any non-urgent travel before you have received your permit.
You must check your permit carefully when you receive it, to ensure that all the details on it are correct. If you find a mistake, you must phone us on 0300 123 2412 within 10 working days of receiving the permit - otherwise you may be charged for a replacement and will need to apply again.
We advise you to make a photocopy of the front and back of your permit, in case it is lost or stolen. If you want to make another application in the future, you will need to send your permit to the UK Border Agency, so you may want to retain a copy for your records.
Your biometric residence permit is evidence of your permission to stay in the UK, and shows the conditions of your stay. It enables you to confirm your identity and your right to study and/or work here, and to access public services.
You must show the permit to your employer or approved education provider before you start to work or study.
You must take your permit with you if you go abroad while you have permission to stay in the UK. You may need to show the permit to an immigration officer at the border when you leave the UK. You will also need to show it as well as your valid national passport or travel document before you begin your return journey, and again when you re-enter the UK. The permit proves that you are allowed to return to the UK, but it cannot be used instead of a passport or travel document.