How to request personal information held by the Home Office

Under the Data Protection Act 2018, you have the right to access your personal information held by the Home Office’s immigration systems. This is known as a “Subject Access Request” (SAR) or “Right of Access Request.”

You can use this service to request information for yourself or someone else who has authorized you to act on their behalf.

The Subject Access Request Unit (SARU) handles all requests for information held by the following sections of the Home Office:

  • Immigration
  • Citizenship
  • Border Force

When applying, you need to be as clear as possible about the information you require.

What options are available

Choose from the following 3 options depending on the information you need.

Note: If you file multiple requests for the same person, you will be contacted to confirm which one you want processed. All requests are free. Processing time is 1 month after you submit all required documents but this can take longer if further information is required by the Home Office in which case you’ll be contacted.

Your supporting documents must comply with the guidance below.

1. Basic request

Most people find this option gives them all the information they need.

The Home Office will provide all of the digital information recorded about you since the year 2000, including:

  • details of your immigration history, for example, dates applications were submitted and decisions made
  • landing cards
  • visa applications you submitted from outside of the UK (as part of entry clearance)
  • Workers Registration Scheme (WRS) information if you are a national of Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia

2. Specific request

This is the best option if you require a particular document.

You can request specific information if you need to. You should clearly describe which documents you need.

You can request copies of up to 5 single documents, for example:

  • a list of your applications or a copy of a specific application form
  • a particular decision letter
  • the outcome of an appeal (appeal determination)
  • a particular detention progress report
  • a particular interview record

This list is not exhaustive. If you need something else, provide clear details of the document you are looking for.

3. Detailed request

Initially, you will be sent an electronic summary of your immigration information (as with a basic application). This gives most people what they need.

This option also allows you to request paper records from your Home Office file if the electronic data does not fulfil your request.

Refining your request to state clearly which paper records you need will help your application.

How to make a request

1. Apply online

Use the online application form.

The Home Office cannot accept applications from an address outside the UK through the online form. If you do not have a UK address, email your request to subjectaccessrequest@homeoffice.gov.uk.

2. Apply another way

You can make a request without using the online form, but it may mean that you will be asked for more information, delaying the start of the 1 month processing time.

You can email subjectaccessrequest@homeoffice.gov.uk.

You may also write to us at:

Subject Access Request Unit (SARU)
Lunar House
40 Wellesley Road
Croydon
CR9 2BY

What supporting evidence is required

The Home Office need the following evidence to confirm your identity:

  • a copy of your photo identification, such as a passport
  • a letter of authority, to give permission for your records to be sent to you or your lawyer / legal representative
  • proof of your relationship, if you are applying for a child under 12

You should have this evidence ready before you start your application.

The application form will tell you how to send this evidence.

Your application will not be accepted until we receive these documents. It will be automatically rejected if you do not send them within 15 days of making your application.

1. Photo identification

The Home Office matches your photograph against our systems to ensure it sends personal information to the right person.

Photo identification can include a copy of your:

  • passport
  • driving licence
  • biometric residence card
  • national identity card
  • travel document

If you do not have any of these, you will need to send a recent photograph.

Do not send original documents. We need a good quality, clear, colour photocopy.

2. Letter of authority

This can be a short letter or statement. We use this to be sure that you want your records to be sent to you and, if someone is applying on your behalf, that you have given your authority for them to do so.

The letter must include:

  • confirmation that you give permission for your records to be sent to you (or a third-party representative, if they are applying on your behalf)
  • your signature and the date, within the last 6 months

Your signature as well as your photo identification is used to verify that the person making the request is entitled to do so.

You can sign the letter of permission on the applicant’s behalf if any of these apply:

  • you are completing this application for a child under 12
  • you have the power of attorney for an applicant
  • you are a litigation friend

If you do, you must submit proof of your relationship.

3. Proof of your relationship

If you are applying on behalf of a child under 12

You must provide evidence of your relationship, so we are sure that you have the parental authority to do this.

This evidence can include:

  • a birth certificate
  • proof of parental responsibility
  • if you are divorced or no longer residing with the child, proof that you continue to hold or share parental responsibility, for example: a shared Parental Responsibility Order, Care Order, Adoption Order, Residence Order, Special Guardianship Order or permission from the parent who has sole custody or parental responsibility

If you are applying on behalf of someone because you have the power of attorney or are a litigation friend

You must provide evidence of this.

The Home Office will not be able to process your request without the required evidence being submitted unless the information is required to establish or exercise a legal claim.

Family applications

You need to apply separately for each family member.

What happens next

Your request will be processed within 1 month of receiving all information.

When you may need to wait longer

Your request may take longer to process if the Home Office need additional information.

In exceptional circumstances the Home Office may consider your request is complex, in which case the deadline can be extended. You will be contacted separately explaining why.

Any data disclosed is the property of the data subject and should be retained by them for their records.

Fraz Wahlah - CEO Citizen Lawyer

About the Author

Fraz Wahlah

Fraz Wahlah is a leading British human rights lawyer and founder of Citizen Lawyer in London and Birmingham. Read more about Wahlah here