Congratulations! Your application to become a British Citizen has been successful and you have the Home Office letter to prove it.
You have contacted the local council to arrange your attendance at the citizenship ceremony and invited your nearest and dearest to witness you becoming a British national.
At the ceremony, you will receive your certificate of British citizenship and welcome pack.
And then onto the next step – applying for your British passport. It’s exciting isn’t it?!
Yes. Only there are a few things that you need to be aware of.
After you attend the citizenship ceremony and receive your certificate of British citizenship, your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) is no longer appropriate for your circumstances. That’s because you have formally become British and your BRP does not reflect this.
To address this, the Home Office requires that you return the BRP to them by post within 5 days of attending the ceremony or receiving the certificate of British citizenship.
Did I say ‘require’? It would be better to say ‘insist’ as failure to return your BRP to the Home Office after attending a citizenship ceremony can result in a fine of up to £1,000.
The BRP must be returned to (correct as of today’s date):
PO Box 195
The BRP shouldn’t merely be placed in an envelope and posted but should be cut into several pieces and placed in a windowless envelope with a note. That note should contain brief wording such as:
‘I am returning my permit because I have become a British citizen’.
Apart from ensuring that you return your BRP within 5 days of attending the citizenship ceremony or receiving your certificate of British citizenship, it all seems straightforward, right?
Wrong! What happens if you have travel booked or plan to travel but cannot afford to wait 6 weeks to receive your new British passport?
Can you attend the ceremony, receive your certificate of British citizenship, travel with your original overseas passport and re-enter the UK with your BRP? After all, the BRP will show that you are entitled to reside in the UK and hasn’t expired.
The firm answer is no.
Once you have attended the citizenship ceremony or received your certificate of British citizenship you cannot hold onto the BRP and travel with it once you. You will instead need to be in possession of a British passport or Right of Abode Certificate to enter the UK.
If you do have travel booked, in such circumstances, it may be best to delay booking and attending the citizenship ceremony.
Normally, you will have 3 months from receipt of the Home Office letter of your application outcome to book and attend the ceremony. It your travel is booked to take place within that time, it may be best to contact your local council and explain the situation to them.
Council officials are extremely helpful and may possibly arrange for you to attend the ceremony at the latest available date. This may give you sufficient time to complete your travels and return to the UK using your BRP before attending the ceremony. This option will not be available if your certificate of British citizenship has been sent to you instead.
The main thing is that having gone through the process of qualifying for British citizenship, applying and being successful, it wold be a shame to become subject to a fine because you did not return your BRP or at worst, have no way of proving your immigration status when returning to the UK after your travels.
Hopefully, following this short guide will help you focus on what’s important, celebrating the outcome of your application to become a British citizen!