Personal information charter

This personal information charter explains how we look after your information.

We sometimes need to process personal information about you so that we can provide services for you, carry out Home Office and other associated public functions, and comply with applicable laws and regulations.

This personal information charter (sometimes called a privacy notice) contains the standards you can expect when we ask for, or hold, your personal information. It also covers what we ask of you to help us keep information up-to-date, how you can request a copy of the personal information we hold about you, and how you can report a concern. This page also explains our information management policy.

Our standards

The processing of personal data is governed by the Data Protection Act (DPA) and other relevant legislation. When we ask you for personal information, we ensure that:

  • you know why we need it
  • we only ask for what we need and don’t collect too much or irrelevant information
  • we protect it and make sure nobody has access to it who shouldn’t
  • we only share it with other organisations when it is lawful to do so
  • we don’t keep it longer than necessary
  • it’s not made available for commercial use without your permission

In return, we ask you to:

  • give us accurate information
  • tell us as soon as possible if there are any changes, such as a new address

This helps us keep your information reliable and up-to-date.

Personal information that we collect and process

We collect and process personal information for the exercise of our own and associated public functions. These include:

  • investigating an offence, preventing, detecting or prosecuting a crime
  • maintaining public order, and preventing anti-social behaviour
  • securing the UK border and controlling immigration
  • recording movements in and out of the UK
  • considering applications to enter and stay in the UK
  • addressing visa matters and checking immigration status
  • issuing passports and visas
  • establishing entitlements to benefits and services
  • managing customs functions at the border
  • keeping the UK safe from the threat of terrorism

We may also use information we hold about you to:

  • undertake statistical and analytical analysis
  • assist in verifying your identity
  • fulfil other legal requirements

We may ask you for different types of personal data, including biometric data (such as facial images, fingerprints, and/or DNA).

Further details about how we work with fraud prevention organisations is also available.

Keeping personal information

We will keep your data for as long as is needed to provide you with a service or conduct our business in accordance with our functions and our records management policy. We may also keep it for longer in order to meet other legislative requirements, or to answer requests for information from ongoing or impending statutory inquiries.

Sharing information with others

Any personal data you provide will be held securely and processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and other relevant legislation, such as the Human Rights Act 1998, the Immigration Act 2014 or the Criminal Justice and Data Protection Regulations 2014. We may disclose your information to other organisations so that we can carry out our functions, or to enable others to perform theirs. Other organisations may include:

  • other government departments and agencies
  • local authorities
  • police and other law enforcement agencies
  • courts and other judicial bodies
  • foreign governments and other authorities
  • foreign law enforcement and judicial bodies
  • fraud prevention bodies

Any information about you that we pass to a third party will be held securely by that party.

How to ask for your data

If we hold any data about you, you have the right to ask for a copy of it through a subject access request (SAR). The Home Office includes UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), and Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO).

There are a small number of cases where we do not have to give you the information you have asked for. For example if we are using data for the purposes of investigating, preventing or detecting crime, or apprehending or prosecuting offenders where to do so would be likely to prejudice those purposes. In cases where it is known the police are investigating, or prosecuting offences, we will ask for their view on whether providing you with the information would prejudice their activities.

Guidance is also available on how to ask for:

To ask for personal data held by other parts of the Home Office, please contact the information rights team using the contact details below.

When you write to us you must provide the following in hard copy:

  • confirmation of name: a copy of your passport, full driving license or birth certificate
  • confirmation of name and address: a copy of your full driving license, a copy of a recent utility bill, bank or credit card statement, pension or child benefit book (or similar official document which shows your name and address)
  • if you are writing on behalf of someone else, you must also include a signed declaration from the person you are acting for indicating that they have asked you to make an application on their behalf

You must also send:

  • a cheque or postal order for £10 (made payable to ‘The Accounting Officer, Home Office’), unless you are a current or former member of staff
  • details of all addresses you have used in previous correspondence with the Home Office, including email addresses (if applicable) so that we can search our systems
  • any information that might help us in locating the information in which you are interested (this might include details of any contacts you have had with the Home Office at any time, and details of why you think we will hold information about you)

Upon receipt of all the above provisions, the Home Office has 40 calendar days within which to respond to your request.

Please note that the Home Office does not keep records of individuals as a matter of routine and if you have had no previous dealings with the department, it is unlikely that we will hold information about you. If, however, you have reason to believe that we do hold information about you, please indicate any contacts/dealings you have had with the Home Office in the past, so that we can locate anything that is relevant.

Information management strategy

We will manage our information to achieve the right balance between making information more widely available to the public, while ensuring that adequate protection is in place.

Our information management policies include how we:

  • respond to subject access and Freedom of Information requests
  • secure the information we hold
  • ensure that information created, collected and stored is proportionate to the business need, and is retained only for as long as it is needed

Further information

This privacy notice has been created to be understandable and concise. As a result it does not include exhaustive detail about what information we hold, every organisation the Home Office shares information with, how the information is collected or how long all information is kept. If you would like more information you should email us at:

Or write to us at:

Information Rights Team,
Knowledge and Information Management Unit
Performance and Risk Directorate
Home Office
3rd Floor, Peel Building
2 Marsham Street

Reporting a concern

When we process your information we will comply with the law, including the Data Protection Act 1998. Should you feel that your data is being processed in breach of the DPA or other legislation you can report your concern to the Information Commissioner’s Office at:

Wycliffe House
Water Lane

Telephone: 08456 30 60 60 or 01625 54 57 45.
Fax: 01625 524510

You can also visit the Information Commissioner’s Office website.