Date Published: 21.02.2024
Status: Past
Type: Residency and Equal Treatment and/or non-discrimination
Outcome: No further action

EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) – Biometric Residence Cards and Travel Permits

Summary of Information

In response to several complaints and intelligence regarding processing times and issues citizens were experiencing boarding carriers (airlines, ferry companies, etc), the IMA requested further information from the Home Office (HO) as to how it administers the issuing of Biometric Residence Cards (BRCs), replacement BRCs and EUSS Travel Permits (TPs) to those with status under the EUSS.

BRCs are issued upon grant of EUSS status to third country nationals (TCNs), alongside their digital EUSS status, if they don’t have an existing in-date BRC issued under the EEA Regulations 2016. Where a TCN would otherwise require a visa to travel to the UK, the BRC acts as a visa exemption document. Where a BRC is lost, stolen, damaged or expires, a TCN with EUSS status can apply for a replacement BRC if they are then in the UK or for an EUSS TP if they are outside the UK and want to return. An EUSS TP will be required by carriers where a TCN with EUSS status requires a visa exemption document to travel to the UK, and does not have an in-date, UK-issued BRC.

The IMA was unclear about HO policy and practice regarding any requirement for visa nationals to present a BRC or other visa exemption document at UK border control. The IMA also wanted to understand why visa national TCNs with EUSS status are required to present a BRC, or an EUSS TP, alongside a valid passport, to carriers. The IMA wished to identify whether there are delays in issuing BRCs, replacement BRCs and/or EUSS TPs. The IMA reviewed the guidance available to citizens to determine if it was clear and helpful.

Summary of actions and evidence

Upon review of intelligence and HO guidance the IMA has established that:

  • The HO guidance is clear for visa national TCNs with EUSS status, referring to the importance of holding an in-date physical BRC and using it, if needed, to present to carriers in order to return to the UK.

In correspondence with the IMA, the HO has clarified that:

  • BRCs are issued to TCNs under the EUSS as evidence of rights under the Citizens’ Rights Agreements and, as such, a visa exemption document.
  • Visa national TCNs will be asked by their carrier (e.g. an airline or ferry operator) to show a valid visa or visa exemption document, such as an EUSS family permit, an in-date, UK-issued BRC or an EUSS TP, in order to travel to the UK.
  • At the UK border, TCNs with EUSS status are not required to present their BRC, although it may speed up their entry.
  • Delays in issuing BRCs following the grant of EUSS status are currently minimal.
  • Service level agreements for BRC replacements and non-complex EUSS TP applications are currently being met within a decent margin.
  • The HO appears to have addressed any issues in processing EUSS TPs in a timely manner and indicates a continuous improvement to its service.

Summary of Decision

Based on the evidence provided by the HO, the IMA considers that the concerns raised with the IMA on this compliance case are resolved, with the issue concluded by the IMA as No Further Action required.

Nevertheless, the IMA acknowledges that, especially for those who have suffered the loss or theft of their BRC while they are abroad and need to obtain an EUSS TP before they can return to the UK, it can be inconvenient to have to wait several days for an EUSS TP to be issued. The IMA has urged the HO to continue to do its utmost to process applications for EUSS TPs for those outside the UK, and for replacement BRCs for those in the UK, as quickly as possible for citizens affected.

Should the IMA receive any further information or complaints about this or related issues, these will be considered on their merits and in line with the IMA’s internal processes The IMA remains able to take further action should it be needed on these issues in future in accordance with its statutory functions.

The IMA would encourage affected citizens to continue to report any issues, whether related to this matter or otherwise.

Information sources for citizens


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