Rules for the registration and lodging of applications
Article 69 of Asylum Code transposes Article 6 of the recast Asylum Procedures Directive relating to access to the procedure.
As outlined below, Greek law refers to simple registration (απλή καταγραφή) to describe the notion of “registration” and full registration (πλήρης καταγραφή) to describe the notion of “lodging” of an application for international protection under the Directive.
Registration of applications for international protection (“Καταγραφή”)
Article 69(1) of the Asylum Code provides that any foreigner or stateless person has the right to “make” an application for international protection. In this case, the application is submitted before the competent receiving authorities, i.e. the Regional Asylum Offices (RAO), the Autonomous Asylum Units (AAU) or the Mobile Asylum Units of the Asylum Service or the Regional Reception and Identification Services, depending on their local jurisdiction, which shall immediately proceed with the “full registration” (πλήρης καταγραφή) of the application.
The Asylum Code provides that the time limit for such full registration to take place, is no more than 15 days. More precisely, according to the Asylum Code, where “for whatever reason” full registration is not possible, following a decision of the Director of the Asylum Service, the Receiving Authorities may conduct a “basic registration” (απλή καταγραφή) of the asylum seeker’s necessary details within 3 working days, and then proceed to the full registration by way of priority within a period of not exceeding 15 working days from “basic registration”. In such a case, the applicant receives upon “basic registration”, a document indicating his or her personal details and a photograph, to be replaced by the International Protection Applicant Card upon the lodging of the full application.
According to the Asylum Code, if the application is submitted before a non-competent authority, that authority is obliged to promptly notify the competent receiving authority and to refer the applicant thereto. However, in practice, for an asylum application to be properly lodged, the applicant should lodge an application in person before the Asylum Service.
For third-country nationals willing to apply for asylum while in detention or under reception and identification procedures, the detention authority or RIS must register the intention to apply on an electronic network connected to the Asylum Service no later than 3 working days under the Asylum Code.
Moreover, according to the Asylum Code, the lodging of the application with the Receiving Authorities must be carried out within 7 working days after the “basic registration” by the detention authority or the RIS. In order for the application to be fully registered, the detainee is transferred to the competent RAO or AAU.
Lodging of applications (“Κατάθεση”)
No time limit is set by law for lodging an asylum application. Article 83 of Asylum Code transposes Article 13 of the recast Asylum Procedures Directive that refers to applicants’ obligations and foresees that applicants are required to appear before competent authorities in person, without delay, in order to submit their application for international protection.
Applications must be lodged in person, except under force majeure conditions. According to the Asylum Code, the lodging of the application must contain inter alia the personal details of the applicant and the full reasons for seeking international protection.
As a general rule, the Asylum Code provides that the asylum seeker’s card, which is provided to all persons who have been fully registered i.e., lodged their application, is valid for 1 year, which can be renewed as long as the examination is pending. However, the Asylum Code provides for a number of cases where the asylum seeker’s card can be valid for shorter periods. Thus, the validity of an asylum seeker’s card can be set for a period:
- No longer than 3 months, where the applicant belongs to a nationality with a recognition rate lower than 35% in accordance with the official EU statistics and by taking into consideration the period for the issuance of a first instance decision expected;
- No longer than 30 days, where the communication of a decision or a transfer on the basis of the Dublin Regulation is imminent;
- No longer than 30 days, where the application is examined “under absolute priority” or “under priority”, under the accelerated procedure, under Art. 84 (inadmissible) or under the border procedure.
In 2022, the Asylum Service registered 37,362 applications for international protection, mainly lodged by Afghans (5.624) and Syrians (5.050).
Role of EUAA (previously EASO) in registration
EUAA (previously EASO) deploys Registration Assistants to support the Greek Asylum Service in charge of registration across the territory. Registration Assistants are almost exclusively locally recruited interim staff, not least given that, in countries such as Greece, citizenship is required for access to the database managed by the police (Αλκυόνη) which is used by the Asylum Service.
In 2022, the number of registrations carried out by the EUAA in Greece increased to 18,162 registrations for international protection. Of these, 83% related to the top 10 citizenships of applicants and in particular Afghans (3,547), Palestinians (2,290), Somalis (1,914), Iraqis (1,507), Bangladeshis (1,458), and Syrians (1,439). In 2022, the EUAA carried out 14,986 registrations for temporary protection in Greece.
Access to the procedure on the mainland
Access to the asylum procedure remained a structural and endemic problem in Greece for many years. Difficulties with regard to access to the asylum procedure have been observed since the very start of the operation of the Asylum Service in 2013, in particular due to Asylum Service staff shortages and the non-operation of all RAO provided by law. A previous system for granting appointments for registration of asylum applications existed since 2014 through Skype, but proved to be ineffective in allowing access of persons applying for asylum to the procedure. Deficiencies in the Skype appointment system stemmed from limited capacity and availability of interpretation, and barriers to applicants’ access to the internet. Consequently, prospective asylum seekers frequently had to try multiple times (often over a period of several months) before they managed to get through to the Skype line to obtain an appointment for the full registration of their application, while facing the danger of a potential arrest and detention by the police. They were deprived of the assistance provided to asylum seekers, including reception conditions and in particular, access to housing.
On 13 July 2022, the Ministry of Migration and Asylum published a new online platform for the electronic pre-registration of asylum seekers in Greece. The procedure applies for all third country nationals arriving in Greece and wishing to claim asylum, as well as for those already residing in Greece and who have not been through reception and identification procedures. The platform is available in nine languages (Albanian, Arabic, Bengal, Dari, English, Farsi, Pashto, Turkish and Urdu), and after applicants have provided their personal information, they are asked to choose one of two registration facilities: in Diavata (Thessaloniki) or Malakasa (Attica). Once the electronic form is completed, a registration appointment will be assigned to the applicant and communicated via email. The first appointments took place on 1 September 2022, and it is understood that the facilities reached full capacity on the same day. Until the end of December 2022, 14,942 registration appointments were delivered through the platform (7,516 in Malakassa and 7,426 in Diavata).
The appointment process mandates a maximum 25-day detention period in order for the procedure to be completed, restricting the freedom of movement of those who have registered for asylum. Pursuant to Article 8 of the EU Reception Conditions Directive (RCD), Member States ‘shall not hold a person in detention for the sole reason that he or she is an applicant for international protection’. Despite this, the new platform utilises detention as the status quo for the registration of an asylum application, violating the RCD’s conditions of exceptional implementation. During this detention period, asylum seekers complete their asylum interview and wait for the first instance decision on their case. If the individual’s decision is negative, they are permitted to leave the camp, yet no specific instructions are provided regarding the competent Regional Asylum Office for submission of their appeal or their right for free legal aid in the second instance of their asylum procedure, further obstructing individuals’ effective access to asylum and due process.
The new camps in Diavata and Malakasa are far from the urban centres where most asylum seekers live and are extremely difficult to reach as no financial or logistical provisions have been made for asylum seekers’ transport, resulting in an increased risk for individuals to miss their registration appointments and consequently their access to international protection. Furthermore, the camps began operating with understaffed and under resourced Mobile Units of the RIS, lacking the medical and psychosocial personnel required for first reception procedures. The failure to provide first reception services and adequate registration procedures for refugees and migrants has left hundreds of people unregistered and vulnerable to detention.
In addition, there have been reports of an irregular distribution of appointments and extensive delays of appointment dates, with several appointments being assigned over twelve months after the initial pre-registration application was submitted. In many cases, appointments were not available at all, further highlighting the lack of capacity of the facilities and resources available, forcing people to remain undocumented for extensive periods of time, without basic medical care, accommodation or essential services.
Consequently, the issues that existed during the previous Skype pre-registration system persisted, where people were forced into a legal limbo without any official documentation or legal status and remain unsupported by appropriate structures to provide for their essential needs.
Access to the procedure from administrative detention
Access to the asylum procedure for persons detained for the purpose of removal is highly problematic. The application of a detained person having expressed his or her wish to apply for asylum is registered only after a certain period of time. The person remains detained between the expression of the intention to seek asylum and the registration of the application, by virtue of a removal order. He is deprived of any procedural guarantees provided to asylum seekers, despite the fact that according to Greek law, any person who expresses his/her intention to lodge an application for international protection is an asylum seeker. Since the waiting period between expression of intention and registration is not counted in the Duration of Detention, asylum seekers may be detained for a total period exceeding the maximum detention time limit for asylum seekers.
The findings of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in 2019 are still valid:
‘many detainees did not understand their right to apply for asylum and the corresponding procedure, with some individuals incorrectly believing that the process was initiated when they were fingerprinted. There was no established scheme for providing legal aid during the first-instance asylum application, and interpretation was not consistently provided, with asylum seekers relying on second-hand information from fellow applicants. The Working Group was informed that no information was provided by the police to detainees on their right to apply for international protection or on the procedural stages, and that such information was provided by non-governmental actors only.”
The time period between the expression of intention to apply for asylum and the registration varies depending on the circumstances of each case, and in particular the capacity of the competent authority, the availability of interpretation, and the number of people wishing to apply for asylum from detention.
 Article of Asylum Code.
 Article 69(1) of Asylum Code.
 Article 69(3) of Asylum Code.
 Article 69(2) of Asylum Code.
 Article 69(9) of Asylum Code.
 Article 69(7) (b) of Asylum Code.
 Article 83(3) of Asylum Code.
 Article 83(4) of Asylum Code.
 Article 69(1) of Asylum Code.
 Article 75 (1) of Asylum Code.
 Article 75 (2) of Asylum Code.
 Article 75 (3) of Asylum Code.
 Article 75 (4) of Asylum Code.
 It should be noted that Regulation 2021/2023 entered into force on 19 January 2022, transforming EASO into the EU Agency for Asylum (EUAA).
 Information provided by the EUAA, 28 February 2023.
 Information provided by the EUAA, 28 February 2023.
 Statement published by Mobile Info Team, New asylum seeker registration procedure begins today and is already at capacity: People will be forced to remain undocumented for 14 months as they wait for an appointment in Diavata or Malakasa, 1 September 2022, available at Statement on New Registration Procedure — Mobile Info Team.
 Reply of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum of 16 March 2023 following a relevant question (hereinafter Reply of the Ministry to the Greek Parliament).
 Article 8 (1) RCD
 Greece // Bimonthly Bulletin on Refugees and Migrants, October 2022, available https://www.gcr.gr/media/k2/attachments/GCR_OXFAM_STC_Advocacy_Update_October_2022.pdf
 Global Detention Project & Greek Council for Refugees, Joint Submission to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in Preparation for its Mission to Greece in December 2019, Submitted in October 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/2TRYmna.
 Communication from the UNHCR (15.5.2019) in the M.S.S. and Rahimi groups v. Greece (Applications No.30696/09, 8687/08).