Registration and Identity management
When people are forced to flee their homes to escape war, persecution or violence, the registration and documentation by States or by UNHCR is a key first step in ensuring their protection.
Registration and identification of refugees is key for the people concerned, as well as for States to know who has arrived, and facilitates access to basic assistance and protection. The process of registration enables the early identification of individuals with specific needs within a population and their referral to an available protection response. The very fact of being registered can protect against refoulement (forced return), arbitrary arrest and detention. It helps keep families together and assists UNHCR in reuniting separated children with their families.
The individual data collected during registration provides the comprehensive population data needed for programme planning, including for shelter, food, water, health and sanitation facilities, cash-based interventions and other forms of targeted assistance. Registration data is also an important tool in ensuring the integrity of refugee protection systems and preventing and combating fraud, corruption and crime, including trafficking in persons.
Increasingly, identity documentation is issued by government authorities, even where registration is still carried out by UNHCR. Government-recognised identity documentation can constitute proof of legal identity which is key to the legal, socio-economic and digital inclusion of persons of concern within their host communities. For example, a proof of identity credential, such as an ID card, can facilitate greater freedom of movement in the host country, empower refugees to open bank accounts, register for a SIM card and access online services and opportunities available to citizens everywhere.
As part of the Global Compact on Refugees, UNHCR has undertaken to share resources and expertise to strengthen national capacity for individual registration and documentation, including support for digitalization, biometrics and other relevant technology, as well as the sharing of quality registration data, disaggregated by age, gender, disability, and diversity, and in line with data protection and privacy principles.
For more in depth information about registration and identity management practices at UNHCR, please visit our Guidance on Registration and Identity Management.
Registration Tools: PRIMES
At the center of UNHCR’s work with registration and identity management, lies PRIMES, UNHCR’s digital Population Registration and Identity Management Ecosystem. PRIMES brings together all of UNHCR’s digital registration, identity management and case management tools into one internally connected and interoperable ecosystem.
PRIMES is comprised of several repositories for personal data (biographic and biometric) and supporting information, along with multiple tools which safely make use of the data to deliver targeted protection, assistance, and solutions to refugees and other displaced populations. PRIMES is an enabler for:
- Identity management (including registration and biometric enrolment) and documentation
- Case management (including the principal Protection aspects: Refugee Status Determination, Resettlement, Statelessness, Repatriation, Legal and Physical Protection, Child Protection, SGBV and others)
- Assistance (cash and in-kind)
- Data management, including reporting and analysis for evidence-informed action for quality protection outcomes
PRIMES has been designed with cooperation and interoperability in mind so that refugee supporting governments and partners can make use of the data and technology which UNHCR has developed to enhance their ability to deliver services often together with UNHCR, in a safe and secure manner. PRIMES is fully aligned with the Policy on the Protection of Personal Data of Persons of Concern to UNHCR.