Planning and Preparing Registration and Identity Management Systems
© UNHCR/Jiro Ose
3.6 Registration tools


  • The Population Registration and Identity Management Eco-System (PRIMES) is a platform for all UNHCR registration and identity management tools and applications, including existing tools such as proGres, the Biometric Identity Management System (BIMS), the Global Distribution Tool (GDT), the Rapid Application (RApp), IrisGuard and RAIS, as well as those to be developed in the future. PRIMES applications are designed to work in offline, online and GSM environments, and will be interoperable with IT systems used by governments and partner organisations such as WFP (SCOPE) and Unicef (Primero). New PRIMES applications going forward will aim to promote direct access by persons of concern (e.g. access to personal data, entitlement accounts, identity wallet).

  • ProGres v4

    • “ProGres in Partnership” or proGres version 4, is the UNHCR’s corporate, centralized, web-based case management software application. ProGres v4 supports operational functions ranging from the registration of individuals to a wide range of UNHCR case management functions including assistance, protection case management, protection interventions and the provision of documentation and cash-based assistance.

      ProGres was first developed in 2003 under Project PROFILE to meet UNHCR’s refugee registration and population data management requirements. ProGres has, over the years, become the back-bone for individual data in the majority of UNHCR’s field operations. It is now a key instrument for the delivery and tracking of protection and assistance services to persons of concern around the world.

      ProGres v4 is UNHCR’s fourth generation registration and case management system. It incorporates the functionalities of earlier versions of proGres and includes a range of additional functionalities and features. It is built on Microsoft Dynamics CRM, which was developed for customer relationship management. UNHCR has adapted this powerful tool to create a truly global case management system. ProGres v4 enables UNHCR to grant access to partners, including host Governments, ensuring a common platform for collaboration. It is interoperable with other corporate tools such as BIMS, the GDT and Dataport. In addition, proGres integrates with a system that allows end-to-end data transmission to financial service providers when cash assistance is used.

  • The Rapid Application (RApp)

    • RApp is an application for mobile devices and laptops that allows for the rapid input of identity related data in an off-line modus. RApp data can then be uploaded into the central UNHCR population registry and linked to the various other tools of the PRIMES eco system, such as biometrics and the various case management modules.

      RApp collects data at the household and/or the individual level, allowing the collection of data at pre-registration for scheduling, organized movement and initial assistance distribution as well as individual registration of biographical data, photographs, biometrics and specific needs information for case management purposes. RApp allows for the issuance of documentation, including entitlement documents such as ration cards at the family level. The application can also be used to make protection and other referrals, as well as form connections with other registration groups within the business unit.

  • Dataport

    • The Dataport is a ‘smart’ inventory of UNHCR’s current population information with real-time connectivity to proGres v4. The Dataport pulls population data from proGres v4 and organizes the records with the help of indicators and attributes that cover all thematic, sectoral and case management areas such as for example, number of minors that have spontaneously departed to their country of origin or number of individuals with specific needs that have departed for resettlement. This tool maximizes the potential of the data collected by UNHCR and provides a quality resource for analytical and comprehensive information on persons of concern and contribute to global intelligence on displacement.

  • Biometrics Identity Management System (BIMS)

    • BIMS is UNHCR’s principle biometric identity management system. First rolled out in 2015, BIMS has a centralized database allowing real-time consolidation and checking of identity across all UNHCR sites using the system. The system operates under a wide range of environmental, infrastructure and connectivity conditions, and is able to operate with weak or non-existent internet availability.

      BIMS secures, preserves and anchors individual identities, ensuring continuity of identity over time and across operations. This reduces avenues for identity fraud and other misrepresentations, since registered individuals can no longer be lost or registered multiple times against different names.

      BIMS uses all ten fingerprints and two irises from each individual to build a globally available biometric record. The use of a multimodal system, rather than relying on fingerprints or irises alone, provides more complete and accurate coverage of populations.

  • Refugee Assistance Information System (RAIS)

    • RAIS is a web-based assistance management platform used by UNHCR, partners, and donors principally in the MENA region to ensure effective tracking of assistance, coordination, and enhanced accountability. RAIS was developed by colleagues in MENA to address the demands for a more coordinated approach for the delivery of refugee assistance amongst all relevant actors. RAIS has continuously been modified and updated to meet new demands by humanitarian actors using it, and supports many different procedures including vulnerability assessments, assessment management and coordination, cash distribution, referrals and ticketing, offline functionalities and interoperability with applications of other agencies. RAIS is a flexible system which can be quickly adapted and customized to meet sudden changes and needs.

  • IrisGuard

    • IrisGuard is UNHCR’s other primary biometric tool, collecting two iris scans and a facial photo from each individual. The system was initially introduced in Jordan to support the Syrian response and has since expanded throughout the Middle East sub-region.

      First applied in the context of administering cash assistance for refugee beneficiaries, IrisGuard introduced a technical framework, known as EyeCloud, that permits humanitarian partners and financial service providers to validate identity and qualification for assistance via their irises. In consultation with WFP, iris-enabled point-of-sale devices were introduced in camp supermarkets to ensure access to food assistance without requiring vouchers, cards or PINs. EyeCloud was then expanded to provide cash interventions to the refugee community directly through the Cairo Amman Bank’s ATM network. EyeCloud is also used by IOM to verify identity during resettlement interview processing. The IrisGuard solution has therefore become an integral part of identity management for persons of concern as well as an effective mechanism for assistance delivery in the Middle East operations.

  • The Global Distribution Tool (GDT)

    • The GDT was launched as a companion tool to BIMS in 2015 and helps operations use biometrics to verify identities in food and assistance distribution scenarios. The GDT:

      • uses biometrics to quickly and accurately verify food collectors during distribution
      • reduces avenues for fraud
      • speeds up the overall process
      • provides greater integrity and better management information
      • generate reports at any time.


      The GDT accepts food distribution lists or manifests from a variety of sources including proGres, and provides real-time reporting on exactly who has collected assistance by using a biometric verification with BIMS. Reports also provide detail on which households have been served, and the specifics of exactly which commodities have been distributed.

      The GDT provides UNHCR and partner staff with secure access to its biometric database for verification and digitizes the entire food distribution process to remove the need for time and resource consuming paper-based manifests checks.

      The GDT can manage multiple distribution lists simultaneously as well as supporting alternative food collectors for households which need to designate others to collect assistance on their behalf.

      The application also has a mobile app, which can be installed on any android handheld device, enabling users to track admission, and successfully record collection of assistance.

Locally developed tools and databases

  • There are several examples of highly successful tools that have been developed at the field level and which have contributed major efficiencies to UNHCR operations within the region and even beyond. As a general principle, local development of registration tools is discouraged when the required functions are already met by existing corporate tools. The disadvantages of locally developed tools are that they are generally not supported or upgraded, and the knowledge required to run them may leave the operation with the eventual departure of key staff involved in the development of the tool.

    Where a registration tool is developed to fill a gap not covered by existing corporate tools, it is critically important to develop user guidance, SOPs or other documentation as well as training in order to build and sustain institutional memory about the tool.