Planning and Preparing Registration and Identity Management Systems
© UNHCR/Alessio Mamo
3.7 Organize staffing and training

Key messages

    • Registration and Identity Management Officers are responsible for the design, implementation and monitoring of registration strategies that advance the operation’s protection strategy. and have the capacity to deal with government and inter-agency relationships.
    • Determining the required profiles and number of staff is key to the success of the registration strategy and of each registration activity.
    • Training is a critical component of the Registration and Identity Management Officers’ responsibilities. All personnel involved in registration need training, from the team leaders, the operation data managers, the data entry operators, the interviewers, interpreters, to the security personal, crowd management support and refugee volunteers.
  • Dedicated registration staffing requirements

    The Registration and Identity Management Officer position is located at the Regional Office, Country Office, Sub-Office, Field Office or Headquarters. The role of the Registration and Identity Management Officer is to:

    • Design, implement and monitor registration strategies that are consistent with the operation’s protection strategy and programming activities and with global registration and identity management standards and tools.
    • Ensure that required data protection, anti-fraud, protection needs identification and data quality measures are built into registration processes.
    • Support advocacy with Government authorities and partners to establish and strengthen fair and efficient registration procedures, including the recognition of UNHCR identity and entitlement documentation and associated rights, either through direct or joint implementation; or through the provision of capacity building for Government registration staff and support for registration database creation and management.

    Dedicated country level registration staffing requirements in UNHCR-only or joint Government registration is generally required. Factors that determine the level of dedicated registration staffing required depends on:

    • Government willingness and capacity to conduct registration itself;
    • Favorability of the protection environment and Government willingness for UNHCR to conduct registration either on its behalf or under UNHCR’s mandate;
    • Size of asylum-seeker/refugee population, including rate of new arrivals.
    • The registration methodologies envisaged for the populations being registered.
    • Emergencies with large influxes of new arrivals always require dedicated registration staff.
    • Nature and scale of existing or planned UNHCR protection and programming activities, including assistance delivery programmes, RSD, resettlement and protection case management.
    • Available resources including operational budget to recruit staff and materials to set up appropriate registration infrastructure;
    • High level of data sharing and interoperability of case management systems with other partner systems;
    • Prevalence of multiple registration, identity or document fraud, requiring the implementation of robust identity management systems and anti-fraud systems.

    Depending on the size and complexity of the operation, it is generally recommended that international registration (P2, P3) staffing be assigned to supervise and design registration activities, with national positions (NOA, NOB) created to ensure institutionalization and continuity of process. Where dedicated international registration staffing is not required and instead covered by Protection staff, the latter must have relevant technical training in registration.

    Personnel conducting registration interviews can be employed on affiliate workforce contracts at the GL-4 level minimum. In the event of one-off, large-scale registration exercises, temporary affiliate workforce contracts may be issued, but registration activities should not commence until appropriate registration and protection training has been provided to all new staff. Registration managerial and supervisory functions are reserved for UNHCR staff at the national or international post level (NOA, NOB, P2, P3), with mid-level management or oversight for example of implementing partners conducting registration to be held at the GL-6 level minimum. In operations where registration is conducted primarily for the purposes of refugee status determination, national or international registration staff may report to the (Senior) RSD Officer, who should have the requisite technical training on registration.

    Dedicated regional level registration staffing is always required to harmonize and monitor standard approaches to registration processes and registration data collection within a region. Regional registration support is required where there is an expectation for high level technical intervention with Government or operational partners, including negotiation and oversight on data sharing, partnerships and interoperability of systems with other UN agencies, particularly in regard to assistance delivery.

  • Staffing considerations in merged Registration-RSD procedures

    Registration personnel conducting interviews and drafting RSD recommendations in Merged Registration – RSD procedures must have received basic training on RSD and interview skills. Decisions following a merged Registration – RSD interview should be reviewed/co-signed by RSD personnel, or in the absence of RSD personnel by (senior) registration personnel who preferably have been trained in RSD. In operations conducting merged Registration-RSD procedures, registration staff should be supported by strong oversight including shadowing of interviews, and benefit from ongoing training opportunities.

  • Retaining quality staff and avoiding burnout requires good management. Registration managers should ensure that every staff member knows their responsibilities at each stage of the process, reporting lines, and how to account for the work accomplished. Therefore, concrete terms of reference or job descriptions will be helpful for registration managers and staff alike. Create and regularly update an organigram showing all staff, core functions and responsibilities.

    Managers also need to:

    • Carefully delegate supervisory tasks (such as team lead and other focal points) to experienced and responsible persons;
    • Advocate and implement an annual training calendar for registration. Ensure time is allocated for frequent training on relevant skills including interviewing, specific needs identification, country of origin research and others.
    • Valorise skills already present in the registration team and recognise that everyone comes to registration work with resources and skills of their own.
    • Organise reasonable work schedules that mitigate the risk of staff burnout:
      • Rotations: rotate staff, allowing them to learn and carry out different tasks, prevent mental, emotional and physical fatigue, minimise exposure to stress and security threats, and also to prevent abuse and corruption.
      • Shifts: in large-scale activities or mass data-processing exercises, it may be necessary to organise work in shifts, in order to allow a continuation of productivity while giving staff the necessary breaks.
      • Engage reserve staff for back-up tasks.
      • Account for staff rest and recuperation in the registration schedule, especially in stressful work contexts. When overtime is unavoidable, administrative arrangements should be made in advance.
    • Ask what staff want and need to improve working conditions, and undertake to meet at least some of those requests.
    • Diversify tasks as much as possible, including by assigning focal points for certain topics (for example, country of origin research, SGBV referral, etc). This also provides an opportunity to collaborate with and learn from other functional units.
    • Include registration staff in other activities conducted by the Office, for example, food distributions, participatory assessments and missions.
    • Schedule regular brief/debrief meetings as a way of enabling all personnel to express challenges, difficulties and needs in terms of organizational support, as well as to provide feedback, updates and information on other developments in the Office that have a direct or indirect impact on staff.
  • How many staff?

    Calculating the staffing levels required when scaling up for a specific registration activity should be done with reference to the volume of individuals to be registered or the expected daily throughout. Use the average processing times indicated below for a family of five for the different data sets and for biometric enrollment as a basis for calculating how long a single registration may take:

    • Individual emergency registration (IER) = 15 minutes

    • Individual basic registration (IBR)
      = 25 minutes

    • Individual comprehensive registration (ICR) = 50 minutes

    • Individual enhanced registration (IEhR)
      = 60-90 minutes depending on data elements added



    • Biometric enrolment for a family of five (irises and fingerprints)
      = 10 minutes

    • Biometric enrolment for a family of five (irises only) = 4 minutes

  • The calculation can be set out as follows:

  • This tool can help staff calculate staffing needs by registration methodology and by arrival numbers.

    Where biometric enrolment is conducted separately from interviews, the ratio of registration desks to biometrics desks to ensure a good flow between the two stages will depend on the dataset being collected:

    • For IER, a good ratio is 3:2, i.e. 3 interview desks to 2 BIMS desks;
    • For IBR, 5:2, i.e. 5 registration desks to 2 BIMS desks;
    • For ICR, 5:1, i.e. 5 registration desks to 1 BIMS desk.

    Once staffing needs for the interview (and biometrics steps) have been calculated, identify the number and type of staff (GL4 – GL7, NoA – NoC, P2 – P4, affiliate staff or partner staff) needed to support the other steps in the process. Some key considerations include:

    • assessing which functions can be filled by existing UNHCR staff and partners (including government staff in joint registration operations);
    • assigning supervisory functions and team leads for process flow steps where appropriate; consider which steps require trained and accountable staff and which do not.

    Match the required number and type of staff (UNHCR staff: GL4 – GL7, NoA – NoC, P2 – P4, affiliate staff or partner staff) to the other steps in the process flow steps:

    • Entry (team lead?, assistants – police? refugees?)
    • Reception (team lead?, receptionists, support staff for file preparation, community-based protection).
    • Data collection, interview and data entry (team lead?, interviewers, interpreters)
    • Protection staff (community-based staff for litigation desk/ protection desk, and monitoring)
    • Photo / biometrics capture (team lead?, photo, BIMS operators, translators)
    • Data quality control (team lead?, data quality assistants)
    • Document issuance (team lead?, assistants to issue documents)
    • Filing/ administrative tasks (team lead?, filing assistants)

    → Additionally, consider staffing requirements for areas that fall outside the above process flow:

    • Screening or fixing population
    • Training
    • Security
    • Logistics
    • Drivers
    • Administration
    • Operations Data Management expert (proGres)

    Members of the refugee population and local population may be engaged for additional tasks, depending on the process flow, scale of the operation, staff capacities and other context-specific factors. Key considerations when recruiting individuals from the local community or refugee community include the capacity for confidentiality and impartiality. Tasks may include:

    • Ushers/runners
    • Translators
    • Crowd control
    • Cleaners
    • Other daily tasks as required in the context
  • Consider the following guiding principles on incentive payments for refugees:

    • Adopt a rights-based approach: advocate for the recognition and promotion of refugees’ right to work; ensure safe and dignified conditions for incentive work; establish transparent recruitment processes; promote equitable access to work opportunities and institutionalize procedures for participants’ feedback;

    • Consider the local context: assess the needs and expectations of host community regarding employment opportunities with humanitarian agencies;

    • Provide fair compensation: calculate compensation taking into account the time, skills and experience required and market context, and harmonize incentive scales amongst humanitarian organizations, to enhance transparency and reduce turnover.

    • Where refugee volunteers are not paid, ensure expenses are covered for work undertaken, including transport and phone calls.

  • When the number and type of staff required for each responsibility or step has been ascertained, it is recommended to:

    • Assess the team currently in place and decide which of the planned functions can be fulfilled by existing UNHCR staff, affiliate staff, and partners.

    • Plan to hire a few extra personnel to be on stand-by and support the team during peak hours. Extra staff can also trouble-shoot and provide back-up for absent staff.

  • What kind of staff?

  • Gender balance

    In line with its commitment to gender equality, UNHCR should aim to recruit male and female staff in equal numbers. At the same time, individuals being registered should have the opportunity to be assisted by staff of the gender of their choice at any stage of the registration process, and particularly during the interviewing stage (interviewer and interpreter).36 It is therefore necessary and desirable to hire an appropriate balance of male and female registration staff to respond to the exigencies of the operation, including where female refugees may wish to speak with female staff.

    Female members of the team should be present at every stage the registration process and be trained to identify and intervene appropriately in the case of specific needs and vulnerabilities amongst women and girls.

    Aim for a gender balance when engaging refugees and members of the host community as well, and ensure women are placed at the access point to help identify specific needs in women and girls.

    36 Registration standards: B.12

  • Language requirements

    To the extent possible, recruited staff should speak both the language of the refugee population and the official UN language in the country operation. Translators will need to be hired to fill any gaps in this regard. Translators who can assist refugees who don’t speak the official or majority language of their country or population group should also be engaged, where possible.

  • Ethnic diversity

    Care should be taken in particular when employing local and refugee staff to support registration activities. Be aware of any pre-existing tensions and conflicts of interests between different ethnic groups and avoid engaging personnel whose ethnicity or attitude may be a source of discomfort or anger amongst individuals being registered.

  • Varying experience and competencies

    Try to recruit at least some personnel with experience in protection or who are sensitive to the needs of vulnerable persons, which may include children, women, elderly persons, persons with disabilities, LGBTI persons, minorities, and other persons with specific needs. If necessary, consider engaging experts from government departments, NGOs or other partners. Also, remember to make sure registration and data entry assistants have an adequate level of computer-literacy (design a simple data entry test for those considered for recruitment).

    Recruits who have the most experience, strongest competencies or who otherwise show promise should be assigned greater responsibilities including as team leads for a particular step in the process flow. Team leaders will need to have basic managerial skills including a clear communication style, ability to anticipate challenges and support their team members in fulfilling their tasks. Registration assistants with no previous experience in registration may be hired to conduct interviews or attend other steps in the process. Such persons should, however, be committed, demonstrate basic technical know-how and data entry ability (and adequate hand-writing). In the case of large-scale registration or verification exercises, personnel hired should be able to adapt to pressure and stress, show flexibility regarding working hours and demonstrate a readiness to travel and work in remote areas for several days.

  • Identifying and selecting staff requires time and preparation, particularly in the case of finding qualified staff in remote locations. Already having a clear idea of the qualities and competencies necessary for a given post will greatly facilitate the process of recruiting the right people.

    Close cooperation between Admin/Human resources and Registration is critical for timely recruitment processing and hiring the right staff. Whether looking to scale-up staffing for a large-scale registration activity or maintaining a stable team for continuous registration, consider the following when hiring:

    • Have a clear idea about national and international staffing needs, and discuss with Admin/Human Resources what kind of contractual arrangements are available for international and local recruits;
    • Draft job descriptions based on the process flow and establish proficiencies, previous experience and qualities required for the post;
    • Design a small test that is specific to the post (for example, data-entry) in order to verify required competencies;
    • Use tests after training to identify the strongest for team leads.


  • Training is a critical component of the Registration and Identity Management Officers’ responsibilities. All persons involved in registration need training, from security staff at the gate through to refugee helpers and cleaners. A detailed training strategy is required ahead of a large-scale registration activity in order to identify likely costs such as training location, transport, computer and printing hardware, IT infrastructure, refreshments, stationary), and to establish the timeline needed to deliver training content and build up the necessary capacity of new staff before activities can commence.

    The strategy for training should include the following components:

    • Timeline for training
    • Location for training and transport
    • Content (see below)
    • Names of trainers
    • Handouts and job aids
    • Equipment needed: printer, stationary, IT infrastructure
    • Inclusion of partner/ government staff
    • Cost/ budget
  • Training content

    Staff training should cover the following areas:

  • Introduce UNHCR and the operational context

    Give a short presentation of UNHCR and its protection mandate. Situate registration within the broader picture of UNHCR activities in the country and demonstrate the linkages between registration and other case processing, assistance and protection interventions and durable solutions. Ensure staff are sufficiently familiar with the Registration Standards.

    Explain the role of the host Government in registration as well as the inter-agency coordination arrangements and the roles of other agencies in data collection activities.

  • Objectives of activity

    Explain the purpose of registration activity, why it is to be conducted and what the expected outcomes are. Situate registration within the broader operational context and protection strategy. In the context of continuous registration, explain the role of Registration in the context of the broader protection and solutions strategy as well as the longer term objectives and vision for registration in the country.

  • Go through registration process

    Take the registration team through each step in the registration process from entry to exit, referring closely to the SOPs. Conduct targeted training sessions to ensure personnel understand their own roles and what is expected of them. Interviewing staff should be trained on data entry and the use of proGres, as well as interviewing skills, identification of specific needs and all other responsibilities foreseen in the operational context. In particular, staff should be trained on how to establish a compassionate and constructive rapport with refugees, with due respect for age, gender and diversity. They should be trained to work effectively with interpreters, if relevant, especially in the context of identification and verification of specific needs and with respect to basic counselling.

    In contexts where registration staff may be required to determine fighter status, staff must be adequately trained on all related issues including: what questions to ask and how to ask them, what observations to make and how to record them, how to maintain their personal security during registration interviews, how to respond to an individual suspected to be a fighter and how to counsel family members. Other kinds of specific questioning (for example, nationality determinations or age determinations) to be conducted at registration should also be reflected in the training.

  • Data protection

    Key data protection principles should be carefully explained and discussed with all staff handling personal data and /or conducting interviews.

  • Protection and specific needs

    Protection staff should be called upon to train registration personnel on:

    • The prevailing protection needs of the population to be registered and the specific needs to be identified and recorded during registration
    • How to identify invisible specific needs
    • How to identify protection ‘red flags’ and what observations to note
    • When to refer a person or family to the Protection desk during registration
    • Protection-sensitive interview techniques in the case of children and other PWSN, including key questions to ask
  • Code of conduct and fraud prevention

    Ensure all staff and personnel are trained on the code of conduct and related UNHCR policies such as those relating to sexual exploitation and abuse, fraud and corruption. Provide specific guidance on how to respond to fraud or abuse that becomes known to registration staff and how this kind of misconduct will be addressed. Inform and train staff as well on the existence of procedures and responsibilities regarding complaint mechanisms for refugees and asylum-seekers (letter boxes, hotline, etc.) as well as from whom complainants will receive a response.

  • Integrity

    The Anti-Fraud Focal Point or other staff knowledgeable in the Policy and Operational Guidelines on Addressing Fraud Committed by Persons of Concern should provide registration personnel with necessary training or information regarding prevention, detection and response to inconsistencies and suspected fraud.

  • Self-care and peer support

    Staff should be encouraged to follow the following practices, where possible, in order to reduce the negative effects of high volume case-processing work:

    • Utilize available training opportunities;
    • Utilize opportunities for rotation and diversifying daily functions, in line with personal priorities;
    • Seek support from managers, colleagues, peer supporters, intranet resources for Staff, DHRM (Career Management Section), Staff Council, and staff welfare resources;
    • Maintain a healthy work-life balance;

    Managers should reassure all staff (regular, affiliate and volunteer) that UNHCR is concerned for their wellbeing and recognizes the challenges of working in registration. Available staff welfare resources in the operation should be communicated to all staff, as should the proper channels for complaints and proposals for change.