This study presents an overview of the challenges faced by national authorities in their efforts to reliably establish and verify the identity of third-country nationals within the context of various migration procedures – namely those related to asylum, return and legal migration channels (including both short-stay and long-stay visas and residence permits). In addition, this study reports on national practices to address those challenges.
The establishment of identity is a crucial factor in determining the legitimacy of applications in all migration processes. However, Member States face a two-fold challenge in establishing and verifying identity, mainly as a result of missing or false/invalid identity documents. Most Member States reported that the number of applicants for international protection not able to provide neither an official travel document nor identity document, has increased since 2013, and has caused national authorities to turn to other means of identity establishment, such as comparison of fingerprints and DNA analysis.
The number of return decisions also increased in past years, bringing to the fore specific challenges related to a lack of (valid) identity documents in return procedures and the refusal of countries of origin to accept returnees as a result. Member States reported such challenges to relate to both a lack of cooperation from third-country nationals, as well as the degree of cooperation from authorities in the presumed country of origin.
Although the responsibility of providing credible and verifiable documentation for long-stay visa and/or residence permits generally lies with the applicant, the need to verify this documentation also creates challenges for the responsible authorities in legal migration procedures. These mainly relate to forged or counterfeit documents, while six Member States also highlighted specific challenges in family reunification procedures.
Some Member States reported changes in the legislative and institutional framework for identity establishment, which can mainly be attributed to the need of transposing relevant EU Directives and/or the need for more efficient procedures as a result of the significant rise in applications for international protection in recent years.
- Challenges and practices for establishing the identity of third-country nationals in migration procedures: EMN Inform
- Establishing identity of non-EU nationals in Irish migration processes
 This Synthesis Report was prepared on the basis of national contributions from 26 EMN NCPs (AT, BE, CY, CZ, DE, EE, EL, ES, FI, FR, HR, HU, IE, IT, LT, LU, LV, MT, NL, NO, PL, PT, SE, SI, SK, and UK)