Foreign Nationals Biometric Residence Permit FAQs

General FAQs

What is biometric information?

Your biometric information (sometimes called 'biometrics') is the set of unique physical characteristics that can be used to identify you. When you apply for permission for a visa or permission to remain in the UK, we will scan your fingers and thumbs (10 digits) and photograph your face digitally.

For more information on the Biometric Residence Permit please visit the Home Office website.

What happens when I enrol my biometric information?

Enrolling your biometric information is a quick and easy process. We photograph your face digitally, then you put your fingers on a glass screen to be scanned. There is no ink or mess. Finally you write your signature on a digital pad.

Your details are captured electronically and we send them securely to the Home Office for them to continue your application for a Biometric Residence Permit.

We are aware of the need to protect applicants' dignity, privacy and modesty. There will be special arrangements for applicants where needed.

Can children use this service?

Children under 16 years old must be accompanied by a 'responsible adult' to reassure them and ensure that they understand the process. A responsible adult is their parent or guardian, or another person aged 18 years or over who takes responsibility for the child. Only the responsible adult named on the biometric notification letter can accompany children to their biometric enrolment.  If the named responsible adult is not present the biometric enrolment will not take place.

Children under 6 years old do not have to provide their fingerprints.

What if I don’t have a biometric notification letter (with a barcode) inviting me to enrol my biometrics at the Post Office®?

You will not be able to use this service – you can only use this service if your biometric notification letter from the Home Office invites you to go to a participating Post Office® and has a unique barcode. You must bring this letter with you when you come to the Post Office® or you will not be able to enrol your biometric information as part of your application.

When is the best time for me to enrol my biometrics?

To make your visit as quick as possible we recommend that you attend your selected post office  on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday or Friday as this is when we are less busy.

Additionally some post office branches are particularly busy for this service. Please refer to our branch list to see if your chosen branch has a less busy alternative close by.

How much does it cost?

You need to pay £19.20 to the Post Office® to have your biometric captured and sent to the Home Office. This is in addition to the fee you pay to the Home Office for your immigration application.  For some immigration routes there is no biometric enrolment fee payable, this will be clearly stated in your biometric notification letter.

What happens to my biometric information?

Once we’ve captured your biometrics, we send the captured images to the UK Border Agency which considers it as part of your immigration application.

We do not keep any biometric information on our systems. We package and send the information securely to the Home Office. Staff members and suppliers do not have access to the information and we have regular independent security assessments.

The Home Office will keep your biometric information on its database.

Get more information on the immigration application process.

What does the Home Office do with your biometric information?

Your biometric information will be stored on a central government database in the UK, and will be checked against UK government records. It will be handled in line with the UK's strict data protection laws.

What happens if I cannot enrol my biometrics?

If there are exceptional reasons why you are not able to enrol your biometric information within 15 days of the Biometric invitation letter being issued,  then you must email setting out the reason(s) why you are unable to do so.

For more details about the biometric enrolment process please refer to our FAQs on this or visit the Home Office website.

Biometric Enrolment FAQs

I have a young child; how am I going to get a photograph of them that will meet the requirements?

Although this may be difficult to achieve, the following is acceptable when children are enrolling their biometrics: If your child is five or under, they don’t have to be looking directly at the camera or have a neutral expression. If your child is under one year old, their eyes don’t have to be open. If their head is supported by a hand, the hand must not be visible in the photograph.

The Post Office also has equipment available so that when your child is enrolling their biometrics they can stand on them to reach a suitable height to have their photograph taken without the need for you to hold them.

I will need to help my child enrol their biometrics, how can I do this?

When accompanying children for their biometric enrolment, you are encouraged to wear the grey cloak provided by the Post Office should your child need to sit on your knee to be photographed. Care should be taken to ensure only your child is visible in the photograph otherwise the enrolment photograph can be rejected after the enrolment has taken place and your child would have to attend the Post Office again to enrol their biometric information. The Post Office also has equipment available so that the child enrolling their biometrics can stand on them to reach a suitable height to have their photograph taken without the need for an adult to hold them.

Do I have to accompany my child for their enrolment or can another family member go instead?

Only the responsible adult named on the biometric notification letter can accompany children during their biometric enrolment. Only the named responsible adult is allowed in the biometric enrolment station with the child during enrolment.

I wear a headscarf; will I be able to enrol my biometrics without having to remove it?

Head coverings worn for religious reasons are acceptable on enrolment photographs but care must be taken to ensure your face is not covered.

Please note that the colour of head coverings can cause contrast issues when the photograph is taken. For some applicants wearing a religious head covering is necessary however please be aware that if a headscarf is too light in colour it may not be possible to see it clearly against the grey background of the biometric enrolment station. Please remember to wear a dark coloured headscarf.

I wear glasses; can I leave them on for my enrolment photograph?

If you wear glasses/sunglasses you must remove them for the photograph during the enrolment process.  You must also remove the following items during enrolment:

  • Headphones
  • Hats/Scarves/Other headgear (except those worn for religious reasons
  • Bluetooth headsets

For more information about suitable photographs, please view the Home Office Photograph Guidance (PDF 320Kb).

I use a wheelchair; will I be able to access the biometric enrolment station in the Post Office to enrol my biometric information?

The Post Office offers a number of larger biometric enrolment stations across the country; these are shown in the “Find a Branch” section of the website. Please note the maximum width of our enrolment booths:

  • Larger biometric enrolment stations: 1.193 metres
  • Standard biometric enrolment station: 0.694 metres

If you are using a wheelchair, please make sure that you will have enough room to enter the biometric enrolment station and rotate the chair by 90 degrees to face the camera. If you have any questions please call us on: 0345 611 2970 and we’ll be happy to help.

When enrolling, you should take care not to block the sensors at the bottom of the crown unit (this is the unit containing the camera) in the biometric enrolment station as this will stop it from moving up or down into the correct position.

Will someone be able to come into the biometric enrolment station with me to help me enrol my biometrics?

Only if you require physical assistance during a biometric enrolment. The enrolment process is very straightforward and can be explained to someone who may have a limited use of English before they go into the biometric enrolment station.

Please note:

There is clear mark on the floor of the Post Office biometric enrolment station where you must stand to have your photograph taken. To ensure that a compliant facial image is taken you must take care to stand in the correct place. Standing too far from the camera will result in a grey bar appearing at the bottom of the image and this can affect the contrast of the image leading to image being rejected and requiring you to re-enrol your biometric information.