Welcome: a guide for Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visa holders in the UK

A guide for adults and dependants who have been granted leave on the new British National (Overseas) visa to access public services and make the most of the opportunities in the UK.

The BN(O) route reflects the UK’s historic and moral commitment to those people of Hong Kong who chose to retain their ties to the UK by taking up BN(O) status at the point of Hong Kong’s handover to China in 1997. In January 2021, the Home Office launched the BN(O) visa, enabling BN(O) status holders and their family members to live, work, and study in the UK. In April 2021, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) launched a new UK-wide Welcome Programme to support those on the BN(O) visa settle into the UK. In March 2023, DLUHC announced the continuation of the Welcome Programme. In June 2023, DLUHC announced the successful grant recipients across the voluntary, community, and social enterprise (VCSE) sector for Year 3 of the grant scheme.

Please note, we have only updated the English version of this landing page to reflect the June 2023 announcement, and will be updating the Cantonese version of the page shortly.

Information for BN(O)s

This page has been designed for those people who have recently arrived in the United Kingdom from Hong Kong, or are applying to move to the UK, on the BN(O) visa. This page contains a list of resources for you to settle in the UK, including an online Welcome Pack, information on how to access DLUHC’s Welcome Programme, announcements and updates. This page is available in English and Cantonese, and you can switch between the two languages at the top of the page.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland consists of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Information on services may be different depending on which nation of the UK you live in.

Online Welcome Pack

An online Welcome Pack has been developed to help you settle into life in the UK, including how to access the public services that are available to you.

The Welcome Pack is available in English and Cantonese. You can access the relevant language by changing the language settings at the top of this page.

The pack includes information such as how to: apply for a National Insurance number, register with a GP, find a school for your children, set up a bank account, start a business, buy or rent a home, and access careers advice and support. In some places the Welcome Pack covers specific services in England only. The following links provide further information on services in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Welcome Hubs

The Welcome Programme has created 12 virtual Welcome Hubs across the whole of the UK to support you and your family to integrate into your communities. Hubs can signpost you to local public services and connect you with local voluntary, community, and social enterprise groups where you can access tailored support. Through the Welcome Hubs you can access support to navigate local provision, build your confidence and skills through sessions with specialists, and help you to integrate into your community. Find your local Welcome Hub and their contact details.

Voluntary, Community, and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Projects

In March 2023, the Welcome Programme announced a further £2.6 million for UK-wide and regional projects, inviting bids from voluntary, community, and social enterprise organisations to deliver projects supporting mental health, social integration and employability. Please see the list of successful grant recipients of VCSE projects for Year 3 of the grant scheme.

English language and destitution support

The English language support funded by the Welcome Programme is an integral part of the support available to you. Funding is available for local authorities in England to support those who may require support to learn English or improve their English language ability. Get in touch with your local authority to find out how to access English lessons. Find your local authority.

Support with English language is also being provided by some voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations, and your local Welcome Hub will be able to tell you if there is any support in your area.

The Welcome Programme also provides funding for destitution support. If you are at risk of becoming destitute (homeless) you will need to apply for a Change of Condition to lift the No Recourse to Public Funds limitation on your BN(O) visa. For more information on this, please read the relevant section in the Welcome Pack.

We advise you visit the relevant pages for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland to find out more about support in those nations.

Hate crime and support

The Welcome Programme has also provided funding to create ‘On Your Side’, a third-party reporting and support service for BN(O)s and all other East and Southeast Asian communities in the UK.

You can use On Your Side to find support and make a report if you experience or witness racism or any other form of hate. This could include verbal harassment in person or online, criminal damage such as graffiti, or physical violence perpetrated because of hostility against an aspect (or assumed aspect) of a person’s identity such as their race, gender, religion, disability, sexuality, or political beliefs.

On Your Side is led by the independent charity Protection Approaches alongside a consortium of mainly East and Southeast Asian community organisations, and operates independently of the UK government.

You can find out more on the On Your Side website, or call their 24/7 free helpline on 0808 801 0393.


Certificates of No Criminal Conviction

A letter from DLUHC to BN(O)s and prospective employers on Certificates of No Criminal Conviction from the Hong Kong Police can be found below. This letter is available in English and Cantonese.

‘To whom it may concern’ letter for BN(O)s and businesses

A letter to whom it may concern from the former Minister of State for DLUHC can be found below. This letter provides further information regarding your legal status, which you may find helpful when settling in the UK such as finding housing, employment, or opening a bank account. This letter is available in English and Cantonese.

To whom it may concern letter


Published 8 April 2021
Last updated 20 March 2023 + show all updates
  1. Updated Cantonese translation of this page.

  2. Updated information on the Hong Kong BN(O) Welcome Programme, including information on how to access support elements such as Welcome Hubs, VCSE projects, English language, and hate crime reporting. Also included a new letter from DLUHC on Certificates of No Criminal Conviction.

  3. Added letter to landlord and letting agency organisations regarding legal status of Hong Kong BN(O) status holders. Added updated Welcome Pack.

  4. Added translation