Registration of the asylum application


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


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While the asylum application can be presented (“made”) either to SEF or to any other police authority that must then refer the claim to SEF, responsibility to register asylum claims lies solely with this entity.[1] If an asylum application is presented to a different police authority, it must be forwarded to the SEF within 48 hours.[2] In accordance with SEF’s internal organisation,[3] the responsibility for organising asylum files (including registration) lies with its Asylum and Refugees Department (GAR). SEF-GAR is required to inform CPR as an organisation working on UNHCR’s behalf of the registration of individual asylum applications. In 2019, out of a total of 1,849 spontaneous applicants registered by SEF, 1,714 were communicated to CPR.[4]

In accordance with the law, anyone who irregularly enters Portuguese national territory or is refused entry at the border must present his or her request to SEF or to any other police authority as soon as possible.[5] Despite not laying down specific time limits for asylum seekers to lodge their application, the law provides for use of the Accelerated Procedure in case the asylum applicant enters or remains irregularly on national territory and fails to apply for asylum as soon as possible without a valid reason.[6] This provision has rarely been applied in practice. However, failure to apply for asylum at the earliest possible time, unless the applicant can demonstrate good reason for not having done so, also constitutes a ground for not granting the benefit of the doubt.[7] This provision has been applied by SEF in practice. Additionally, it should be noted that persons refused entry at the border are liable to immediate removal to the point of their departure,[8] meaning that, in practice, they are required to present their asylum application immediately.

Upon presentation of the application, the asylum seeker is required to fill out a preliminary form that among others includes information on identification, itinerary, grounds of the asylum application, supporting evidence and witnesses. The preliminary form is available in Portuguese, English and French. However according to CPR’s experience asylum seekers are not systematically provided quality interpretation services at this stage of the procedure, which may result in the collection of insufficient and poor-quality information.

In December 2019, following an agreement between SEF and CPR, two CPR liaison officers were deployed to the premises of SEF-GAR, where the majority of applications are made, to facilitate registration, provision of initial information and referral procedures (e.g. for housing).

SEF is required to register the asylum application within 3 days of presentation and to issue the applicant a certificate of the asylum application within 3 days of registration.[9] Despite isolated delays in obtaining appointments at SEF-GAR for registration, or delays related to the registration of asylum applications presented in the SEF’s regional representations, CPR has not encountered systemic or serious problems regarding the registration of applications as opposed to some instances of delayed issuance and renewal of the certificates of the asylum application.


[1] Article 13(7) Asylum Act.

[2] Article 13(2) Asylum Act.

[3] Article 17 Decree-Law 252/2000.

[4] While slight discrepancies between the number of registered applications and applications communicated to CPR are common, such a significant difference is unusual. Please note that statistics included in this report whose source is CPR, only include applications communicated to the organisation in accordance with the communication duties established in the Asylum Act.

[5] Article 13(1) Asylum Act.

[6] Article 19(1)(d) Asylum Act.

[7] Article 18(4)(d) Asylum Act.

[8] Article 41(1) Immigration Act.

[9] Articles 13(7) and 14(1) Asylum Act.


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