The Home Office has recently published a guidance note on biometric residence permits (BRPs) in light of their increased use. The guidance note also includes a section for employers which explains how the changes to BRPs interact with an employer’s responsibility to prevent illegal working and the right to work checks which should be carried out. The key points for employers are summarised below:

Right to Work Checks

Employers will be familiar with the process they need to carry out when checking whether or not an individual has the right to work in the UK. The increased use of BRPs does not mean that an employer needs to overhaul the right to work checks which they carry out. However, the Home Office guidance includes a number of additional checks to determine whether or not the BRP is genuine. The guidance suggests that an employer should do the following when an employee or potential employee presents them with a BRP:

  • Examine the Permit – to check if it is clean and in good condition.
  • Check the Permit Number – which is displayed on the front of the permit in the top right hand corner. The number should begin with two letters followed by seven numbers. The number should not be raised.
  • Check the Holder’s Image – this should always be in grey-scale. As always, employers should check the photograph to ensure that it is consistent the appearance of the individual.
  • Check the Tactile Feature (on the back of the BRP) – the back of the BRP should have a raised design, which incorporates the four national flowers of the UK. This can be seen by shining a light across the permit and/or by running a finger over the design.
  • Feel the Permit - it should be thicker than a photocard driving licence, it will make a distinctive sound when flicked and should not be folded or bent.
  • Check the Biographical Details – check that the name, date of birth and photographs are consistent with the individual present.
  • Check the Immigration Conditions – which are shown on the front and back of the permit. Common conditions confirm the number of hours an individual is permitted to work or that they must report to the police.

Assistance for Employers

If an employer has carried out their right to work checks and still has concerns, there is an online BRP checking service provided by the Home Office. Further details can be found at:


Employers should continue with right to work checking processes in accordance with Home Office guidance in order to establish their statutory defence against payment of a civil penalty for employing a person with no right to work in the UK. It is advisable for employers to also carry out the supplementary checks outlined above where a BRP is presented in order to demonstrate their commitment to the prevention of illegal working and provide additional protection for their business.