NFC Explained: What Is The Technology Behind Settled Status App

21 January 2019, 11:16 | Updated: 28 October 2019, 15:53

EU citizens are struggling with the government's new app that allows them to apply for settled status in the UK after Brexit, with some users finding the app is completely incompatible with their phone.

In a bid to make the process for EU citizens applying for settled status in the UK as 'easy as possible', the government developed a smartphone app for applications.

The website and app opens to EU nationals living in the UK with passports and their non-EU family members with biometric residence cards, ahead of a full launch by April.

But many applicants have found the app is incompatible with their phone, or doesn't scan documents.

Why Is The Settled Status App Not Working?

There are a number of reasons why the app may not work, and some evolve around a piece of technology called Near Field Communication, or NFC.

Part of the process involved placing the smartphone on top of a passport to collect the necessary information for the application.

The app is supposed to use the device's NFC chip to read the biometric chip in the passport.

LBC was with Max, a 49-year-old Italian man as he tried to apply for settled status, but his Android device was incompatible because it did not use the the technology.

Max tried his wife's phone, which does have all the correct technology however as he put his phone on top of the passport to transfer the data, it wouldn't work.

Read his story here.

NFC technology allows smartphones to make contactless payments
NFC technology allows smartphones to make contactless payments. Picture: PA

What Is NFC?

Typically used in smartphones and smartwatches for contactless payments, NFC can allow small amounts of information to be transferred from and from the device.

NFC has been around for several years, but has only recently become a common feature of smartphones to allow them to make contactless payments.

NFC stickers can often be found at bus stops so that passengers can access timetables on their device, or as a marketing tool in smart posters and advertisements.

While Apple devices have NFC installed, it has so far been limited to its mobile payments feature.

iPhone users will find the app is entirely incompatible at the moment, although the government has said applications could be completed on 'any device' when the scheme opens fully. It has not confirmed, however, whether the app for iPhone will use NFC.

And because Android devices are made by different manufacturers, people have found different Android phones have different levels of compatibility.

The NFC chip is located in different places on different phones too, meaning one person may find it works best in the top left corner of their phone, while others it may be in the middle or lower down.

And even if the technology is available and the app compatible, device privacy settings may also hinder somebody's chances of making it work.