Immigration, Tourism

Travelling On A Lost/Stolen BRP

This is a public service announcement by the Mexile in association with an awful lost of frustration and angst. Roughly 24 hours before Mrs P and I were due to fly to Mexico for our two week holiday, there was what I shall refer to as an ‘incident’. I won’t bore you with the details of the ‘incident’. Just one of the consequences. The most pressing consequence. Mrs P was no longer in possession of her Biometric Residence Permit. This is the card that shows she has the right to be in the UK and is what she needs to re-enter the UK at the end of a trip abroad.

Potential disaster loomed. What do we do now? I did not know the answer. So I did what I always do when I do not know the answer to something. I got straight on to the internet. Where I discovered that, if lost in the UK, a replacement can take up to six months to process. Yes, there is a priority service, at over £500, which will take a few days. Neither option worked for us. But you know what the internet can be like. You log on looking for a cure for a headache. Next thing you know, you have, apparently, got a bad case of Ebola.

If the BRP card lost abroad, then you can apply for a single use entry permit. It’s just £72. And will be with you in 14 days plus. There is, again a priority service. In New York. Great, if you happen to be in the Big Apple. But this clearly wouldn’t work for us either. The internet basically told us just two things. Firstly, a BRP visa or replacement permit was necessary for re-entry to the UK in order to retain the correct immigration status. Secondly, we wouldn’t be able to get one in time.

So I did what I do when the internet fails me. I speak to a human being. Or try to. Good luck with that if you also care to try. There is a Border Agency helpline you can call where, for an extortionate per minute charge, a disinterested sounding person will read off sections of the website that you read yourself just a few minutes ago. It all just began to turn into a major headache. Which, according to Google, was not Ebola but just a bad case of Homeofficeitis.

So there you have it. No BRP card, no re-entry on the correct immigration status. Which is a bad thing. Very bad. So says the internet. So says the disinterested man reading from the internet. So we gave up. Except at the last minute, we decided not to give up and to have one last throw of the dice. Grab bags, head to the airport and speak to a real human being from the UK Border Agency. Face to face.

Where we finally had a sensible conversation. Not face to face, as it happens. There’s no UKBA presence in the Arrivals hall. But there is a more general airport Help Desk on the ground floor, with a telephone that puts you through to someone in Immigration. We spoke to a cheerful young lady and briefly explained our predicament. I can relate the remainder of the conversation almost word for word…

UKBA Lady: Where is your wife from?
Me: Mexico.
UKBA Lady: Does she have the passport she used when applying for the BRP?
Me: Yes, she does.
UKBA Lady: That’s fine then. Enjoy your holiday.
Me: Really?
UKBA Lady: Yes, no problem. They’ll just check her passport against the BRP database on her return.
Me: Really?

Hours and hours of research on the internet, wasted. A two minute conversation with someone on the shop floor – priceless. The bottom line here was that Mrs P comes from a country that does not require a visa to visit the UK. If that were the case then she would have been refused travel by the airline on the way back. And it also helped that she had a passport that the UKBA have a record of in relation to her immigration status, although I am not convinced that this was the most important factor of the two.

So if you have found yourself in a similar predicament, then all may not be lost. Of course, it must be stressed that I am not a UKBA approved spokesperson, nor am I an expert immigration lawyer. Your circumstances may differ, or rules may have changed since this was written. But there is hope. Maybe. And it’s a good thing to share experiences. Whilst I did come across a couple of potentially positive posts on forums, I rather wish I had found something a bit more detailed during my internet search. Something like what I have just written, perhaps. But we did make it to Mexico and, more to the point, we made it back again. The UKBA agent took no more than 2 minutes to pop into the back office to do the necessary check. It couldn’t have been easier.

 

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26 thoughts on “Travelling On A Lost/Stolen BRP

  1. Rahul says:

    Thx for ur helpful advice. I am in a similar situation. I’m due to go to Florence on Thursday and have been separated from my brp. My question is did u apply for a replacement (which won’t have time to arrive) and contact the home office to inform them that it had been stolen/lost before you travelled.

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  2. Thanks for the helpful advice. I have a similar situation. I have bought the tickets to Hungary on 8th January 2018 before losing my brp and now I am waiting for the replacement one (waiting since 22nd November 2017). Just to clarify, I am from Malaysia, country that does not require a visa to visit the UK within 3 months, so, I was wondering will it be fine to travel without brp.

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    • It seems to me that you are likely to be ok. Do you have the original passport that you used to get your BRP? If you have, then definitely take that, even if you have a new one.

      I think the biggest issue for people in this position is not with immigration officers at a UK airport when you come back. It is with the airlines at the check in desk when abroad. They have a duty to ensure they only board people who have the right visa to enter the country they are going to. So if you don’t need a visa, they should let you travel without a problem.

      The caveat to this: I’m not an immigration expert, our experience was over a year ago and this is my opinion rather than professional advice!

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        • Jia Yee says:

          Hey! I got to pass the UK Boarder successfully. I brought some documents including letters from Home Office, certificate of matriculation and letter to prove my current address. I told the officer that I am still waiting for my replacement BRP and my holidays were all set before losing my BRP. After reviewing my documents through system in the office, I got to re-entry to UK!

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  3. infinitepuajiayee says:

    Thanks for the helpful advice. I have a similar situation. I have bought the tickets to Hungary before losing my brp and now I am waiting for the replacement one. Just to clarify, I comes from Malaysia, one of a country that does not require a visa to visit the UK.

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    • Eunice says:

      Hi, I’m going through the exact same situation as you right now, I am from South Korea on a Tier 4 visa, lost brp (reported it) but managed to find it again after, and I have pre-arranged/paid holiday plans in early June. What letters from the Home Office did you take? and do you think it’s better to make the replacement application before travelling or after? I have 2 holidays coming up both in June so I wonder if it’s going to be too risky to do both without a valid brp 😦

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        • Eunice says:

          So if I am allowed re-entry in the UK without the need for a visa, this will not affect my Tier 4 status? since Im applying for permanent residency soon, I am worried about this, since some people have said that i would need to get a tourist visa to reenter the uk which will then cancel my Tier 4.

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        • Ah, now it’s important to know that I’m not an immigration expert! So I offer no guarantees or assurances. I wouldn’t even go so far as to say I can offer advice. I can provide only my opinion, based on personal experience and what I’ve read.

          That said, I think you’re ok. When we arrived back in the UK, we explained the situation to the border agent at Arrivals. We did NOT attempt to enter on a Tourist Visa, which I understand could cause problems with the existing visa. The border agent took my wife’s fingerprints and her passport and went to a back office to look up her correct status. We took copies of all sorts of documents, but it seems only her passport was needed. It was the passport that she used to obtain the BRP, which I believe is also rather helpful. And she was admitted accordingly with no problem.

          But I guess if you are not in possession of the correct documentation, then there is always risk. It is rather up to you to weigh up how much of a risk you think it is, and balance that against the importance of your trip.

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        • Eunice says:

          yes of course! but I don’t think it should be a problem either because I have the original passport that I used to apply for the BRP and I would not need a visa to enter the UK as a South Korean national, so there is no reason why I would have to enter via a tourist visa. Since my Tier 4 is still valid until October, i am going to take all the documents for proof of study/address and hopefully they will let me through after they have confirmed my visa status! thanks again for all the helpful advice!

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        • No problem, and I hope it all goes well for you. I think you’ll be ok. Let me know how you get on though – a bit of up to date feedback is helpful!

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        • Eunice says:

          Hello! just to update the situation, you were right! I actually managed to speak to the immigration office/UKBA at both Luton and Stansted airport and they both confirmed that there would be no problem returning to the UK on my tier 4 status as long as i have my passport and they will check my biometric details at the border- such a relief! so hopefully there wont be any problems for me to re-enter the UK without the BRP!

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  4. alexg says:

    Hi — I’m an Australian wanting to re-enter the UK for study and am in the same situation — have my current passport and my old passport with the sticker in. Wondering if/who I should call ahead…

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    • alexg says:

      Thanks for the advice, by the way — some internet surfing has found many people who’ve been successful trying the same thing, and no horror stories, so it sounds like a good idea

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    • You might need to be a bit more careful. I believe in some circumstance, if you are travelling to the UK to study, you do need a visa. In which case, depending on what’s what/what’s said/what’s documented, you could be denied permission to board the flight to the UK by the airline…

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      • alexg says:

        I don’t think I’ll have problems getting on the airline — they’d only check my passport as I board. It’s more getting into the UK I’m worried about

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        • alexg says:

          For anyone else who’s reading this this won’t work if you’re a national of a country where you need a visa to visit the UK.

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  5. Jenna says:

    @ALEXG
    Have you done your travels? Were you able to enter the UK?
    I’m from Canada, applied for new BRP today- travelling in 6 weeks- everything already paid for. Trying to get some positive advice/vibes for going on my trip instead of cancelling trip. To the person writing this article- do you think it matters what type of Visa you have?

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    • I don’t think it matters what type of visa you have. It seems to me that the only real problem is for people who need a visa to visit the UK. When that is the case then, if you don’t have it with you, the airline would prevent you boarding the plane to the UK.

      As you’re Canadian, I don’t think that’s the case for you. The thing to remember is that when you get to Border Control in the UK, tell them you’ve lost your visa. Don’t re enter on a tourist visa. They will check your immigration status and let you through.

      Probably! The same caveat as I always give – I’m not an immigration lawyer!

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  6. Brandon says:

    I’m about to try this. I’m a US citizen traveling to Pakistan for a trip we payed WAY too much for. I got a replacement BRP on a £720 expedited service and the only reason I don’t have it in hand is because DX Delivery IS AWFUL. Hoping to have the same success you did and to get the document when I return. It exists, its just in the hands of an incompetent carrier.

    Liked by 1 person

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