Helpful Tips Tim Thomas 12/11/2021

Renting to Hong Kong British Nationals (BNO)

The NRLA have given several presentations with Regional Strategic Migration Partnerships on how Hong Kong British Nationals can gain access to accommodation in the Private Rented Sector. These have highlighted a number of areas which may be unclear for both landlords and prospective tenants. Below are some frequently asked questions from landlords, which may be helpful if you are considering letting to a visa holder.

What is a Hong Kong BNO visa?

From 31st January 2021, families living in Hong Kong with British National status can apply for the Hong Kong British National Overseas Visa.

People with BNO status can apply for the visa prior to coming to the UK or they can apply within the UK. The visa can be granted for a period of 30 months or 5 years.

What identification will a Hong Kong BNO visa holder have?

They should hold either:

  • a biometric residence permit or card
  • a digital status (same as EU nationals).

What rights do BNO visa holders have?

They have the right to live, work and study in the UK. They do not have the right to access public funds, for example by claiming benefits or assistance for housing, although they can apply for the right to public funds in the most serious circumstances.

How do I check the right to rent of a BNO visa holder?

You should carry out a right-to-rent check through the normal procedure. Visa holders and applicants can prove their right-to-rent online through generating a share code, which can then be used by a landlord to view status online or by showing physical documents such as a biometric residence permit or card.

Can a BNO visa holder work without National Insurance Number?

Yes, those who don’t yet have a National Insurance Number can undertake employment providing they can show they have the right to work.

What if my tenant is waiting on a decision for their BNO visa?

The UK government allows Hong Kong BNOs to enter the UK and seek Leave Outside the Rules at the border on a temporary basis of 6 months. This enables them to live, work or study in the UK for this period until a decision is made.

This temporary status can be checked by identifying a stamp in their passport. This will show they have leave to enter the country for this period, alongside their entry stamp.

Further resources

British nationals (overseas) in Hong Kong - GOV.UK (

To learn more and keep up-to-date with changes relating to Right to Rent, members can read our online guidance for landlords.

Tim Thomas

Tim Thomas Campaigns and Public Affairs Officer

Tim Thomas is the Campaigns and Public Affairs Officer for the NRLA. With almost fifteen years’ experience in policy and research roles in local authorities and the third sector, Tim takes a leading role on our campaigns to improve access to the Private Rented Sector. Tim’s campaigns have included campaigns to tackle homelessness, supporting the Afghan resettlement programme and promoting adaptations to private rented accommodation for tenants who require them.

See all articles by Tim Thomas