Registration of the asylum application


Country Report: Registration of the asylum application Last updated: 30/11/20


JRS Malta Visit Website

The authority responsible for registering asylum applications in Malta is the Office of the Refugee Commissioner (RefCom). RefCom is also the authority responsible for taking decisions at first instance on asylum applications (see: Number of staff and nature of the determining authority). [1]

The law no longer provides for time limits for an asylum seeker to apply for international protection and it also specifies that the Commissioner shall ensure that applications are neither rejected nor excluded from examination on the sole ground that they have not been made as soon as possible.[2]

In 2019, the registration process by RefCom was severely affected due to an increase in new arrivals and the vast majority of applicants for international protection being detained upon arrival. This created major delays whilst asylum-seekers remained detained in the IRC or Safi barracks for up to several weeks or months pending registration of their applications.

Since July 2019, EASO has been providing support to RefCom following an Operating Plan signed on 24 June 2019, outlining the deployment and operation of experts.[3] EASO is providing support in the registration of applicants, the Dublin procedure and refugee status determination.

For the registration and lodging phases, support is given through the deployment of experts. In particular, RefCom is supported by EASO to register applicants within the premises of the detention centres, the closed section of the IRC and Safi barracks. However, it seems that some detained applicants need to be taken to RefCom for the final registration. EASO also assists RefCom in the implementation of an ad hoc relocation through the matching process and it appears that asylum-seekers to be relocated are prioritised for registration.

With respect to asylum seekers who arrive documented but who do not express a wish to apply for asylum to the immigration officials present or who become refugees sur place, problems may arise as a result of the fact that they could not readily know how or where to apply for asylum.

Applications must be made at RefCom premises. Any person approaching any other public entity, particularly the Malta Police Force, expressing his or her wish to seek asylum, will be referred to the RefCom.

Unaccompanied children need legal guardians to submit an asylum application. Due to the limited capacity of the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers (AWAS) – whose Head is acting as the only legal guardian for all applicants and who delegates his responsibility to social workers – and the large number of unaccompanied minors in 2019, children often faced delays – up to several months – until they were assigned a legal guardian and were able to lodge their application and receive assistance. This also applied to minors who have been recognised as such pursuant to an age-assessment procedure. In most cases, these months were spent in detention either at the IRC or Safi barracks whilst a space was found in a dedicated centre (Dar-il-Liedna or Balzan open centre) for them.   


[1] Article 4(3) Refugees Act.

[2] Regulation 8(1) Procedural Regulations.

[3] EASO Operational and Technical Assistance Plan 2019, accessible at:


Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation