Asylum Seekers


An individual who wishes to claim asylum should file an application with the national Office of the Refugee Commissioner.

Every person arriving in Malta has the right to apply for asylum. However, this does not mean that every person will be granted protection.

Malta is a  signatory to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol since 1971. It officially lifted its geographical reservation on 13 December 2001. Malta is not a signatory to the UN Statelessness Conventions.

The 1951 Refugee Convention defines a refugee as “a person who, owing to a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence, as a result of such events is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”

According to the Malta’s Refugees Act the Refugee Commissioner can recommend two types of international protection:

• Refugee status (in terms of the 1951 Refugee Convention); or

• Subsidiary Protection (in terms of the EU Qualification Directive)

Subsidiary Protection is granted to those persons who are at risk of serious harm in their country of origin:

A.The death penalty and execution; or
B. Torture or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment; or
C. Serious and individual treat to a civilians life or person by reason of indiscriminate violence in situation of international or internal armed conflict.

Temporary forms of national protection may also be granted according to national policy.

The Office of the Refugee Commissioner provides interpreters and information to help asylum-seekers apply for asylum, in terms of the EU Asylum Procedures Directive. Once a person successfully files an application he or she is considered to be an asylum seeker in terms of European Union and National legislation and is therefore entitled to reception conditions in terms of the EU Reception Condition Directive.


Once an asylum seeker has filed an application he/she has the following rights:

  • The right to remain in Malta pending the examination of the case;
  • The right to receive information about the asylum procedure;
  • The right to receive the services of an interpreter;
  • The right to communicate with UNHCR;
  • The right to seek legal assistance;
  • The right to confidentiality.


Asylum seekers also have a number of obligations:

  • To cooperate with the authorities with a view to establishing their identity;
  • To cooperate with the authorities in the context of the asylum procedure;
  • To adhere to and follow the laws of Malta