Continuous registration and verification
© UNHCR/David Azia
8.2 Continuous registration in UNHCR Operations

Identity information needs to be periodically updated in order to remain accurate, since many elements that constitute a person’s identity can and do change over time. Within the broader population, identity information is usually updated and recorded in the national civil registry and other identity management systems. In mandate registration contexts, UNHCR must also, for its part, be responsive to changing circumstances (e.g. marital status, family composition, address, etc), and ensure that processes are in place to update individual records and re-issue identity documentation, as appropriate.

Continuous registration functions to strengthen identity data over time, verifying information and updating data changes throughout the period during which the individual is of concern to UNHCR. In addition, continuous registration allows for the opportunity to expand the data set collected at registration, according to the data requirements of the operation and in accordance with UNHCR’s policy on Data Protection, e.g. shifting from the Individual Basic Registration data set applied at initial registration to Individual Comprehensive Registration at document renewal.

Continuous registration and communication with communities

  • Continuous registration relies on individuals to approach UNHCR for document renewal and to report changes in their personal circumstances, for example, a new birth, a change in marital status or family composition or to renew expiring identity documentation. As such, continuous registration requires regular communication with communities about the responsibility of refugees and asylum seekers to ensure their own registration records are up to date. Reminders and information about continuous registration should be shared during registration and other case management interviews and communicated through the usual channels established in the operation, including, for example, posters and other information products posted in areas of high frequentation, focus group discussions, existing structures and organisations within the community, informal networks, partner networks and information campaigns. Information must be provided in an accessible format and in language(s) and media appropriate for different segments of the population. This includes child-friendly information, information targeted at women, and information accessible to persons with disabilities.

Establish general procedures for continuous registration

  • All operations should ensure some level of continuous updating of registration records, whether in refugee camp settings, emergency contexts or urban environments, as well as situations in which mobile registration is required (e.g. detention centres, hospitals, boarding schools, dispersed settlements). Even in operations where registration data is updated through verification, continuous registration procedures should be in place for the regular recording of births, marriages and other events requiring adjustments to identity or entitlement documents, as well as inactivation or closure of individual records and the cancelling of lost or damaged documents and their reissuance. The regular verification, updating and completing of information on persons of concern is necessary to maintain accurate registration data and identity documentation, and is an important anti-fraud measure for UNHCR.

  • Continuous registration works best when:

    There are regular registration days or times during which individuals may approach UNHCR to renew documents and declare any changes to registration or identity data, or where mobile registration teams conduct weekly/bi-weekly or monthly/bi-monthly circuits;

    All UNHCR personnel directly interacting with persons of concern are responsible for updating an individual’s registration record as changes come to light in the course of their day-to-day work (e.g. during protection interviews, monitoring visits, cash distributions and other individual case management activities), based on access rights and according to SOPs.

    Self-service kiosks, mobile applications or other digital communication channels are available to enable individuals to update their address, telephone or other regularly changing registration information, without having to approach the Office.

    • The Kiosk Automated Services and Information (KASI), developed in Kakuma refugee camp, opens a new communication channel between UNHCR and refugees. The KASI are available in multiple languages in various service locations known as field posts in Kakuma camp and Kalobeyei Settlement. Refugees have unlimited access to the kiosks without needing to refer to intermediaries. The KASI enable the self-reporting of updates (marital status, telephone number, etc.), and allow refugees to request appointments with different functional units (Registration, RSD, etc.) as well as send/receive secure messages to/from UNHCR.

    • The self-renewal registration booth, developed in Jordan, allows urban refugees to validate and update their own registration and identity data. A six-step process, explained in English and Arabic, makes the self-renewal process quick and easy. Through the use of individual biometric technology, an individual can securely check and update his or her own personal details such as biographical information including address, phone number, marital status as well as employment status and education, while more sensitive data such as biometric data, identity photograph, refugee claim and specific needs continue to be updated by registration staff through an interview.

  • Key tasks at document renewal

  • Verify the identity of the individual through photograph and biometric checks. Issues arising during biometric identification procedures to be resolved or escalated, according to SOPs. (see also the BIMS User Reference Guide, PRIMES users only)

    Verify that the individual is (still) of concern to UNHCR, that is, depending on the context, he/she:

    Verify and update registration group composition and family relationships (see Determine family relationships in Module 5); 

    Verify and update registration and identity data. In the case of a specific change requested by the individual (e.g. adding a new born), the staff member should take the opportunity to verify, update and complete the other data fields, including specific needs (see Identifying specific needs in Module 5);

    Refer individuals with specific needs for further assessment and action, according to SOPs;

    Update photo and biometrics, as necessary (see Update photographs and biometrics below);

    Record each individual as “verified” using the ‘verification’ entity (see Reporting for verification);

    Issue a printed copy of the registration data collected to make sure all data is correct before issuing proper documents (in v4, ‘individual summary’ report); 

    Issue renewed documentation when all information has been verified (see below).

  • Establish review and approval procedures for certain data change requests

    The following data fields in the ‘biographical data’ section of the individual registration form are not routinely expected to change. Nevertheless, changes are occasionally necessary – to correct a data entry error, or, less often, to record a change of sex, acquisition or loss of nationality or religious conversion, for example. SOPs should establish review and approval procedures for when such a change is requested, in order to safeguard the integrity of the identity data.

    • name (except where due to marriage, or in the case of correcting a clear typographical error; see data entry guidance in the proGres v4 Registration Baseline SOP, link below);

    • sex (see data entry guidance in the proGres v4 Registration Baseline SOP, link below);

    • date of birth;

    • country of origin;

    • nationality;

    • relationship to focal point (except where there is a change in focal point);

    • ethnicity;

    • religion.

  • Depending on the operational context, there may be other fields that are not expected to change. SOPs should explain:

    • The identity data fields that require escalation to a supervisor to consider and approve a correction, change or update;
    • The escalation procedure in place for this purpose, including the staff member authorized to approve the related data change. In the case of discrepancy between official document and declared identity information at registration, specific SOPs should be in place to litigate the issue and assess any protection risks (see the v4 data entry guidance which considers this question in relation to name and sex);
    • What data changes may trigger referral to protection or other colleagues (e.g. in the case of sex change, claiming to be of minor age, potential loss of nationality, religious conversion or other changes that may raise protection concerns (e.g. regarding information appearing on identity documentation) or may be relevant to ongoing case processing (e.g. RSD claim).
  • proGres v4 Registration Baseline SOP

  • Establish procedures for regular updates and data change requests

    While certain biographical and other personal data is not routinely expected to change over time, many other types of registration data do change and need to be periodically updated as part of continuous registration activities. Common examples include address and contact details, education and employment information. SOPs should explain the appropriate channels for updating registration data, for example:

    • In person, upon simple declaration by the concerned individual (and supporting documentation, as per SOPs);

    • In writing or via digital/online application, SOPs should explain which data may be changed in writing or other form of communication and what supporting information is required, for example, reason for change, evidence of change, date of change, signature of individual. Where the information is unclear or requires verification, the individual should be invited for a brief verification interview;

    • In addition, the Registration and Identity Management Officer should engage with protection and other colleagues to ensure their SOPs reflect the principle that identity records should be updated at all stages of case management, and by all personnel dealing directly with persons of concern, based on access rights.

Update vital events

  • Vital events are major life events including birth, adoption, marriage, divorce and death1. The registration of these events and the provision of related official documentation are core government functions. In mandate registration contexts, UNHCR must also record vital events for the population of concern in a timely way. When adding new individuals to a registration group as a result of vital events, registration staff should make reasonable efforts to verify the genuineness of the event in question and the resulting claimed family relationship and/or social, economic or emotional dependency between the concerned individuals. This means considering available documentary or other information and asking questions as needed while taking into account relevant social and cultural norms.

    1 The following are also considered vital events, though are less common in the context of UNHCR registration activities: foetal death, legitimation, recognition of parenthood, annulment of marriage and legal separation.

  • Record new births

    ‘Birth registration’ is a term that refers to the official and permanent recording of the birth of a child by a foundational identity system of a State. It establishes a legal record of where a child was born and who his or her parents are, key facts by which children acquire nationality. UNHCR promotes birth registration of persons of concern by the host State as a fundamental human right, as a Sustainable Development Goal2 and a means to reduce and prevent statelessness.

    Birth registration is usually carried out in several steps: first, the birth is recorded at the place of delivery by medical personnel, in the form of an attestation or notification of the birth; next, the birth is then reported to the civil registrar and registered in the birth registry on the basis of a statement and the presentation of the birth attestation or notification; a certificate is then issued by the civil registrar to prove the birth registration. The birth certificate should include, at a minimum, the name of the child at birth, the sex of the child, the date and place of birth, the names of both parents (or single parent’s name, as relevant) and nationality of both parents.

    2 Sustainable Development Goal (16.9): provide legal identity for all, including birth registration, by 2030:

  • Where the host State conducts birth registration of persons of concern independently of UNHCR: refugee and asylum seeker births should be registered in proGres upon presentation of the birth certificate provided by the civil registrar. Where the birth has not been officially registered, the parents must be encouraged to register the birth with the civil registrar, or alternatively, referred to protection counselling. SOPs should indicate if the birth should be entered in proGres pending official birth registration, depending on the context.

    Where the host State does not conduct birth registration of persons of concern independently of UNHCR: birth registration should be encouraged and supported by UNHCR whenever possible, including by establishing procedures to routinely inform4 the local civil registrar (or equivalent) of new births, for example, by facilitating mobile missions by the civil registrar to refugee camps.

  • Notwithstanding the importance of official birth registration, all births should nevertheless be entered into proGres as well. This ensures the infant is known to UNHCR, is included in protection and assistance activities and is provided identity documentation where official birth registration may not be accessible.5 Furthermore, recording the birth in proGres is essential for maintaining accurate population statistics for effective advocacy, protection and assistance delivery.

    As such, new-borns should be duly added to the family’s registration group, based on an interview and review of any relevant documentation, according to SOPs. New-borns are recorded in proGres by creating a new individual record in the relevant registration group and entering all data required by the data set applied in the operation. The staff member adding the new born should take the opportunity to record any other changes related to the members of the registration group present, in addition to recording the birth.

    4 In accordance with UNHCR’s Policy on Data Protection

    5 This may due to a number of context-specific factors, including where the child was not born in a recognised health-care structure, or not within the borders of the host State, or where the parents do not meet the legal requirements for birth registration, e.g. they were undocumented at the time of the birth.

  • SOPs should explain:

    • The procedures for informing UNHCR of a birth, depending on the context;

    • Which individuals should be present to record the birth (e.g. both parents, where possible, in order to verify the family relationship; the presence of the parents is less important where an official birth certificate is presented);

    • The tasks at interview, including verifying the claimed relationships between infant and parents, recording the infant’s biodata according to the dataset applied in the operation, including the birth certificate number, or failing that, the birth notification number or other detail;

    • The documentation required, depending on the local context (e.g. birth certificate, birth notification or other document), in order to record the birth in proGres, as well as how to proceed in the absence of such documentation;

    • Processes in place to refer births recorded in proGres to the civil registrar, if relevant.

  • Update marital status

    Marital status changes should be updated and recorded in proGres. Supporting documentation may be requested, depending on the operational context. Alternatively, the change may be recorded based on simple declaration by the individuals concerned.

    In the case of same-sex relationships, registration staff should ask the concerned individuals if and how they wish their relationship to be recorded in proGres and therefore reflected on identity documentation. Depending on the context, the individuals should be referred for counselling on any associated protection risks.

  • Marriage and Common Law Marriage

    Marriage refers to the traditional union between two people, formalized by a religious or civil ceremony. Married persons include those who are re-married (after a divorce or death of spouse), as well as those cases in which the whereabouts of the spouse is unknown.

    Common law marriage is a marriage that is considered valid by both partners but has not been formally recorded with a state or religious registry or celebrated in a formal religious service. The act of the couple representing themselves to others as being married, and organizing their relations as if they were married, acts as the evidence that they are married. Common law marriage is recognized in some jurisdictions.

  • SOPs should explain:

    • Whether, in a given operational context, marriage documentation should be requested;

    • What reasonable efforts should be made to verify the genuineness of the claimed marriage, including in the absence of such documentation;

    • The process steps involved for grouping the two parties recently married (e.g. creation of new registration group, merging existing registration groups to reflect changes in family composition);

    • Documentation to be re-issued reflecting the marriage, including to children and other dependents, as appropriate.

  • Specific cases: SOPs should explain the process for registering polygamous marriages, marriages where one or both parties is/are minor(s), marriages involving different nationalities and other specific cases.

  • proGres v4 data entry guidance on marriages is available here

  • Partnership

    A partnership describes the relationship of an established couple who share a common life and which cannot be described by the other values (i.e. engaged, marriage, common law marriage). The relationship may be a same-sex or different sex and may have been registered as such by a competent authority or may not have been registered or declared at all. A partnership may be recorded as such based on simple declaration of the individuals and in the absence of related documentation.

  • SOPs should explain:

    • What may be understood as a “partnership” in the operational context, and whether the concerned individuals should be asked if they wish to be recorded as such. Alternative values may, depending on the context, be “single”, “engaged” or “common law marriage”;

    • What reasonable efforts should be made to verify the genuineness of the claimed partnership;

    • The process steps involved, if any, for grouping the two parties (linking registration groups, creation of new registration group, merging registration group to reflect changes in family composition);

    • Documentation to be re-issued, including to children and other dependents, as appropriate.

  • proGres v4 data entry guidance on partnerships is available here

  • Engaged

    An engaged person is an individual who has formally agreed to marry.

  • SOPs should explain:

    • What relationships may be understood as a “engaged” in the operational context, as relevant;

    • What reasonable efforts should be made to verify the genuineness of the claimed engagement;

    • The process steps involved, if any, to register an engagement and documentation, as appropriate.

  • Divorce and separation

    A divorced person has legally dissolved his or her marriage and is presently unmarried. In cases where a couple is unable to access a procedure to formalize their divorce, or where the divorce is not mutually agreed between the parties, UNHCR can separate the file to reflect the wishes of the individual seeking to end the relationship. Separation refers to a married couple who is estranged but not divorced; this is normally evidenced by the individuals no longer living together as a couple.

  • SOPs should explain:

    • Whether a given estrangement between the parties should be understood as a “divorce” or a “separation” in the operational context;

    • The process steps involved, if any, for grouping the two parties (e.g. splitting registration groups, creation of new registration group, merging registration group to reflect changes in family composition);

    • Protection referral procedures in the event of legal or protection issues arising out of the divorce, for example, custody issues, potential loss of nationality or other impact of file separation on assistance and solutions;

    • Documentation to be re-issued, including to children and other dependents, as appropriate.

  • Widowed

    A widowed person is a person who has lost their spouse by death and who is presently unmarried.

  • SOPs should explain:

    • Whether, in a given operational context, documentation related to the death of a spouse should be requested;

    • The process steps involved to reflect the change in marital status and the related death, including change in focal point, if relevant;

    • Documentation to be re-issued, including to children and other dependents, as appropriate.

  • Record deaths

    In many contexts, individuals may not see any particular value in approaching UNHCR specifically to report a death, therefore, it is all the more important to capture this data during scheduled document renewal or other interaction in which this information is volunteered. Depending on the national context, a death certificate may or may not be accessible and the death may be recorded based on simple declaration, according to SOPs.

  • SOPs should explain:

    • Whether, in a given operational context, supporting documentation should be requested before recording the death and closing the record;

    • What reasonable efforts should be made to verify the claimed death and ascertain its cause and circumstances, including in the absence of documentation;

    • Which circumstances may be understood to be suspicious or otherwise requiring follow-up, including referral to protection colleagues;

    • The process steps involved to reflect the death in proGres, including whether the registration record should be ‘closed’ or ‘inactivated’ (see below);

    • Documentation to be re-issued, including to children and other dependents.

Update legal status

  • Once the legal status is initially entered by registration staff, for example, as an ‘asylum seeker’ (or as a ‘refugee’ in the case of merged Registration-RSD procedures), the legal status fields may be subsequently updated only by creating a legal status change record related to the given Individual. Only users with certain access rights are able to create a legal status change record,6 and this is not normally a role for registration staff.

    6 Access to legal status change is restricted to users with following user access roles: RSD Extended Advanced, RSD Extended Intermediate, RSD Status Updater and System Administrator.

Update process status of registration groups and individuals

  • Registration group and individual process status reflects events and changes such as arrivals and departures, returns and re-openings, death and other absences that have an impact on the status of the registration record. There are five process statuses. Registration records with process status Active, Hold, or Inactive can be updated and changed. Closed or Erroneous records cannot be updated or changed in any way before first re-activating them. Descriptions of the different process status change reasons in proGres are provided in the v4 data entry guidance.

  • proGres v4 data entry guidance on process status is available below

  • Active -> Records with this process status signify that the related individual is understood to be present in the country of asylum and of concern to UNHCR. During initial registration, the process status is automatically set to Active. Individuals with an active process status are counted as part of the “active” population and are included in statistics. See also Re-activating records below.

    Hold -> Placing an individual on Hold is an exceptional measure to alert each functional unit in a UNHCR country operation that processes in respect of that individual may need to be temporarily suspended pending further inquiries, including on the individual’s whereabouts, or a policy decision. Individuals who are on Hold should have their situation regularly reviewed to check that the process status is still warranted; it should not be an indefinite process status. Individuals with this process status are counted in statistics and may be eligible for assistance, depending on SOPs.

  • SOPs should explain:

    • The reasons justifying Hold process status in the operation, if any;

    • The required grounds for changing process status to Active or other process status, as appropriate;

    • The rights, services and assistance available to individuals with Hold process status.

  • Inactive -> This process status signifies that an individual has not been verified as present and whose whereabouts is not yet confirmed. When the individual’s location is determined, the record should either be activated (if the person re-establishes contact) or closed with appropriate reason for closure provided. An individual whose process status is Inactive is not counted as part of the “active” population and not included in statistics.

    A common reason for inactivating a record is where the individual fails to appear for document renewal or verification or is absent during assistance distribution on successive occasions and it is reasonably believed that she or he may have left the country. An individual’s record should not be inactivated until all necessary enquiries about his or her safety and wellbeing have been carried out – an individual who has lost contact with UNHCR may in fact be in detention or otherwise in urgent need of protection intervention.

    Inactive process status is not intended to have a punitive affect in any way. Importantly, an individual whose process status is inactive does not lose their refugee status (process status and legal status being two distinct data fields) and may be re-activated when contact has been re-established with UNHCR and, according to SOPs, a brief interview conducted (see Reactivating records below). Furthermore, inactivating the record of one individual does not effect the process status of other members of the registration group, with the exception of a possible change to the group focal point and/or assistance collector.

  • SOPs should explain:

    • The ‘grace period’ during which an individual may confirm their presence before his or her process status is changed to Inactive (typically 6 weeks depending on the operational context);

    • What actions should be taken prior to inactivating a record, (e.g. referral to protection colleagues) in the case of an unexpected no show or report that a person has disappeared, in particular in the case of children and other vulnerable individuals.

  • Closed -> Closed is used to signify that an individual is confirmed to have returned, departed, died, is no longer present in the country or is no longer of concern. Note that just because an individual record has been closed does not necessarily mean that she or he is no longer of concern to UNHCR. For example, a refugee who is resettled will remain a refugee of concern to UNHCR even though his/her registration record should be closed in the first country of asylum. In many situations, however, an individual whose record is closed will indeed no longer be of concern to UNHCR, for example, when an asylum seeker’s application for refugee status is rejected at final instance, or if an individual loses refugee status as a result of cessation, revocation or cancellation.

  • SOPs should explain:

    • The procedure for closing an individual record, the required staff authorization and other due process requirements.

  • Erroneous: This process status is used to flag records that were created in error (e.g. duplicate records) since it is not possible to delete a record once created. All erroneous records should be disregarded. Records with process status “erroneous” may not be changed, updated or edited in any way before first being changed to an editable process status, i.e. “Active”, “Hold” or “Inactive”.

Reactivating records

  • Reactivating an “Inactive” record

    An inactivated record may be re-activated following a short verification interview by registration or protection staff to identify any specific protection and assistance needs. Inactive records can be reactivated by individual or by group.

  • SOPs should explain:

    • The procedure (e.g. verification/ protection interview) for activating a “Inactive” record;

    • Scenarios for which specific authorization is required to change process status from “inactive” to “Active”, for example, where protection or integrity concerns are triggered.

  • Reactivating a “Closed” record

    A record that has been closed may be reactivated following a verification interview by registration or protection staff to understand the related circumstances and identify any specific protection and assistance needs. In some cases, a request to reactivate a closed record may trigger integrity concerns. Closed records may be reactivated by individual or by group.

    Note that individuals whose records were closed records should not be subject to a new registration.

  • SOPs should explain:

    • The procedure (e.g. verification/ protection interview) for activating a “closed” record;

    • Scenarios for which specific authorization is required to change process status from “closed” to “active”, for example, where protection or integrity concerns are triggered.

Update addresses and contacts

  • Address and contact information should be updated by UNHCR staff (and partners, where possible) upon declaration by the individual(s) concerned. Where technology permits, Offices should pursue digital approaches (e.g. self-service kiosk or mobile application) to allow individuals to conveniently and efficiently report address and contact updates, since they can change frequently, depending on the context. It is particularly important to track and record address changes for individuals in detention centres, for example, should they be transferred from one detention centre to another or released from detention to community accommodation.

  • proGres v4 data entry guidance on addresses and contacts is available here

Update Specific Needs

  • Specific needs are often time-sensitive: they can improve or deteriorate over time, or they may be time-bound by nature, for example, pregnancy-related needs or age-related situations. A key objective of continuous registration is to ensure new specific needs are identified, and the process status of already recorded specific needs is updated, where applicable. This ensures specific needs data remains accurate over time, enabling the delivery of targeted interventions and informing protection programming.

    SOPs should define which staff are able to record/update which types of specific needs data. For example, certain specific needs should be systematically referred to protection or specialized staff to be confirmed or updated (e.g. SGBV-related specific needs), while other specific needs may be updated by registration staff based on declaration or evidence presented (e.g. single parent). To the extent possible, all staff involved in case management should be responsible for updating specific needs data in PRIMES or referring individuals to protection or specialised staff for this purpose. General guidance on identifying, recording and updating specific needs can be found in Module 5.1. and 5.3.

  • proGres v4 data entry guidance on specific needs is available here

  • In the case of persons with disabilities, under-identification is a challenge that impacts all other aspects of protection, assistance and solutions. The purpose of identifying persons with disabilities is to flag individuals who may be at heightened protection risk and/or who may need specific support in order to have equal access to protection, assistance and solutions. At the Global Disability Summit in 2018, UNHCR committed to improving the identification and recording of persons with disabilities and has since undertaken to ensure disability data is collected in all operations, and disaggregated along with age and sex.

    One way of promoting a more effective recording of disability-related specific needs and reducing the stigma associated with declaring disabilities is to apply the Washington Group (WG) short set of questions7 during continuous registration and verification. The WG questions aim to identify the ways in which an individual’s disability impacts their access to rights and assistance on an equal footing with others. They should be asked to all members of the household, where possible. Where operational exigencies do not allow, the questions should be posed to the focal point of the registration group or the adult members of the family, on behalf of the individuals within the family. For individuals who have difficulties communicating, it is important to first ask how they prefer to communicate (e.g. in writing, using sign language, or with assistance from a support person). No screening questions should be asked prior to asking these questions (e.g. “do you have a disability?”), since disability is understood differently in different contexts and often carries stigma. Furthermore, asking questions about disability may create expectations for assistance that cannot be met. If an introductory statement is made, then it should be: “the next questions ask about difficulties you may have doing certain activities because of a health problem”.

    The WG short set are composed of six questions which broadly correspond to the existing specific needs disability sub-categories found in proGres:

    • Do you have difficulty seeing, even if wearing glasses?
    • Do you have difficulty hearing, even if using a hearing aid?
    • Do you have difficulty walking or climbing steps?
    • Do you have difficulty remembering or concentrating?
    • Do you have difficulty (with self-care such as) washing all over or dressing?
    • Using your usual (customary) language, do you have difficulty communicating, for example understanding or being understood?

    Where the answer(s) to the above questions are either:

    – Yes, a lot of difficulty, or
    – Cannot do at all

    then the specific need should be recorded in proGres by using the relevant specific needs codes, in combination, as necessary, with the comments field to explain the impact of the disability.

    7 Refer to UNHCR Guidance: Identification of Persons with Disabilities at Registration and other data collection efforts,

    UNHCR Specific Needs Codes Disability Interview Guide

    and Washington Group’s short set of questions.

Update relatives

  • SOPs should determine, as part of the data set defined for a particular population, which relatives should be recorded at continuous registration. For example, nuclear family or other close relatives will often be relevant to record, while all minor children should be systematically recorded, even if they remain in the country of origin. Similarly, absent parents of unaccompanied or separated children should be recorded in order to help determine a child’s nationality, facilitate family reunification and inform case management and solutions. Depending on the operational context, there may be other case management purposes for recording specific relatives, for example, those residing in a resettlement country.

Update education, languages, skills and work experience

  • Updates to education, language, skills and occupation data should be updated in proGres whenever this information comes to light. Operations are encouraged to record this and other socio-economic data at continuous registration and verification, where feasible and appropriate, in collaboration with Livelihoods colleagues. Socio-economic data provides information on poverty (household consumption against a poverty line) and living standards (education, employment, housing, assets, health status) and is relevant for UNHCR programming and advocacy, for example, on skills development and training, access to services and other pathways to inclusion, depending on the national context. Furthermore, advocacy and policy development at the humanitarian-development nexus requires socio-economic data and UNHCR is well-placed to collect it as part of registration activities, by applying an expanded dataset (e.g. ICR) and by working with colleagues involved in the design and implementation of socio-economic surveys, questionnaires and other data collection methodologies that can be undertaken in parallel with the registration activity.

    Work experience codes in proGres are based on the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO). This classification focuses on capturing information about the skills and tasks of a given job rather than the specific industry in which the job exists, which may be of less relevance. For example, if a refugee worked as a night guard at a textile factory, the occupation of this person is the relevant information (security guard), not the industry of the establishment employing the person (textile factory). Similarly, skills, when understood as past or present work experience, should also be captured by the ISCO classification codes in proGres.

Update consent

  • Generally speaking, the ‘consent’ fields in the individual data form do not need to be updated on a regular basis. For instance, renewed consent is not required every time previously provided identity and specific needs information are verified and updated. In many operational contexts, consent to process data for the purposes of protection and assistance delivery may be considered “open-ended” in the sense it may be implicit in the ongoing consent of a given individual to remain registered with UNHCR and benefit from ongoing access to services and assistance.

    In certain contexts, however, circumstances may be such that open-ended consent should not be presumed, and individuals should be given an opportunity to provide renewed consent and receive counselling on their right to withdraw consent. For example, consent may not necessarily be assumed when:

    • The initially provided consent to share personal data with partners for assistance purposes was not “free and informed” due to the circumstances at the time (e.g. refugee emergency);
    • The consent relates to participation in an ad hoc activity, such as a survey or other service that the individual would not reasonably expect to continue for an extended duration;
    • The consent initially provided related to a reduced dataset, whereas the individual is now requested to share additional personal data;
    • The initial consent was provided by a parent/caregiver when a person was under 18, and that person is now an adult; in this case, the individual should be asked to update the consent field related to data-sharing;
    • Since the consent was initially provided, there has been a substantial change of circumstances linked to data processing and data sharing arrangements as a result of which it would be reasonable to request individuals to renew their consent or to provide individuals with the opportunity to withdraw their consent.

Update photographs and biometrics

  • Photographs

    Adults should have their photographs updated during document renewal. In general, it is good practice to update photographs every three to five years. For children, photographs should be updated more regularly where feasible, as their appearance may change considerably in a shorter interval of time. When re-issuing identity documents, staff should ensure that the individual is well recognizable in their ID photo, and that photographs are re-taken where necessary. Refer to Module 5.2 (Registration as an identity Management Process) for general guidance on taking photographs.

  • Biometrics

    Continuous registration activities should be used as an opportunity to update the biometrics of children as well as adults according to the following BIMS guidelines:

    • Children aged between 5 and 17 should have their biometric records updated every two to three years to account for growth. While biometric records belonging to children which were captured more than three years prior are still valid for matching against, they may be somewhat less effective for one-to-many searches. Children under the age of 5 years are not biometrically enrolled and should instead have their photograph taken only;

    • For adults aged 18 years and above, biometrics do not need to be updated unless they become difficult to match against, are scarred, damaged or in any other way changed from the images that were originally recorded. If it is difficult to identify a person with their biometrics at continuous registration, consider updating their biometrics after confirming their identity.

  • Registered asylum seekers and refugees 5 years and older who are not yet biometrically enrolled and who approach the Office for any reason should be referred to Registration colleagues for biometric enrolment before they leave the Office.

    In cases where a biometrically enrolled individual cannot be found in BIMS during an identification check or their biometrics is wrongly match against another individual, colleagues should refer to the BIMS User Reference Guide (PRIMES users only) or refer the case to the BIMS focal point in the operation.

    For further guidance, refer to Module 5.2 (Registration as an identity Management Process) and to the BIMS Support page on SharePoint (PRIMES users only).

Add an individual to an existing registration group

  • New arrivals who are nuclear family members of registered individuals – or other family members who are dependent on the registration group8 may request to be added to an existing registration group. Non-dependent new arrivals approaching UNHCR in the context of continuous registration activities should be registered according to procedures for initial registration set out in Module 5. SOPs should explain which family members may be added to a registration group and which should be registered in a separate registration group and linked to the other group.

    When adding new individuals to a registration group, registration staff should make reasonable efforts to verify the genuineness of claimed family relationship and/or social, economic or emotional dependency between the concerned individuals. This means asking questions as needed and considering available documentary or other information as well as taking into account relevant social and cultural norms. Except where protection colleagues or partners have assessed and determined that it is not in the best interests of the child, all children should be added to the registration group of their family members.

    8 Refer to the agreed definition of ‘Registration Group’ in the operation. Module 5.2 of the guidance refers to a Registration Group as a family (nuclear or extended) who lives together and identifies as a family and for whom a relationship of either social, emotional or economic dependency is presumed. (e.g. grandparents, parents, minor siblings, dependent adult children)

Managing registration groups: merge, split, create, transfer groups

  • One or more members of a registration group may request:

    • To merge their registration group with another registration group;
    • To split their registration group into two (or more) registration groups;
    • To transfer one (or more) individuals to another registration group, or
    • To change the focal point of their registration group

    Changes in registration group composition are commonly a result of vital events, such as changes in marital status (see guidance on marriage, divorce and separation above, for example), or other events such as departure to a third country or return to country of origin. In addition, some operations may systematically implement certain group composition changes, for example, creating a new group for individuals who have reached majority age, splitting them from the parents’ registration group.

  • SOPs should explain:

    • the channels through which an individual may submit a request to change the composition of his or her registration group, depending on the capacity to receive and process requests (e.g. in writing, in person, via self-service application, during document renewal or case management activity); and

    • the elements of information required to approve a change and which change requests should be referred for further assessment.

Document renewal, replacement, reissuance and cancellation

  • Identity documents are subject to renewal, usually every two years, although validity periods may be longer or shorter depending on the exigencies of the operational context. For example, for highly mobile populations (e.g. mixed movements) shorter validity periods may be necessary to ensure data quality and accuracy. Key considerations regarding document validity duration are discussed in Module 5.3. (Documentation).

    The document renewal schedule is determined by the expiry date of documents previously issued. As such, document expiry should be staggered in view of predicted future capacity to process the renewals. Individuals should be informed during their registration interview and reminded, through appropriate channels, that they should approach UNHCR to have their documents renewed before they expire. Document renewal is carried out following an interview in which registration and identity data are verified and updated, and any changes to family composition recorded. An individual should be biometrically verified to ensure the document is issued to the right person.

    The cancellation and replacement of lost, damaged and expired identity documents is discussed in Module 5.3. (Documentation). Procedures should be informed by and consistent with local RSD SOPs, as relevant, and aligned with the RSD Procedural Standards on issuing and cancelling documentation.

    Entitlement cards may or may not have an expiry date. Ration cards do not have an expiry date; they are exchanged when a correction has to be made on the family size, or when all numbers have been punched or if they have become illegible due to wear and tear. If lost, ration cards can be replaced and updated in proGres, with the old cards inactivated. Invalidated ration cards reappearing at distribution should be retrieved. See Module 5.3.(Documentation) for more guidance.