Registration of the asylum application


Country Report: Registration of the asylum application Last updated: 15/05/23


Nikola Kovačević

Expression of the intention to seek asylum and registration

 The procedure

The Asylum Act envisages that foreigners within the territory of Serbia have the right to express the intention to lodge an asylum application.[1] Foreigners may express the intention to lodge an asylum application to the competent police officers at the border or within the territory either verbally or in writing,[2] including in places such as prisons, the Detention Centre for Foreigners in Padinska Skela, Dimitrovgrad and Plandište, as well as the airport transit zones or during extradition proceedings or court proceedings e.g. misdemeanour proceedings.[3] Unaccompanied children cannot express the intention to seek asylum until a social welfare centre appoints a temporary legal guardian.[4]

An authorised police officer shall photograph and fingerprint the person (identification),[5] who will thereafter be issued a certificate on registration as a foreigner who has expressed their intention to lodge an asylum application in the Republic of Serbia (‘registration certificate – registration’).[6] The manner and the procedure of registration, as well as the content of the registration certificate are defined in the Rulebook on Registration. This Rulebook prescribes the design and content of registration certificates.

Pursuant to the Rulebook, registration certificates shall be issued in two copies, one of which is handed to the foreigner and the second one to be archived in the MoI organisational unit where the officer who issued the registration certificate is employed.[7] Registration certificates issued to foreigners who expressed intention are in Serbian and in Cyrillic alphabet. Given that the majority of foreigners do not understand Serbian and do not use the Cyrillic alphabet, as well as the fact that interpreters are rarely present when the certificate is issued, the possibility of the certificates being issued in English, Arabic, Farsi or some other languages should be considered in order to avoid potential dilemmas related to understanding of the rights and obligations specified therein.[8] There were instances in practice where UASCs were issued registration certificates as adults, but were later identified as minors and registration certificates were corrected upon the request of Social Welfare Centre. This is a consequence of the lack of age assessment procedure.

Over the course of 2019, the MoI issued a total of 12,937 registration certificates, which is a significant increase in comparison to 2018 (8,436). However, this number sharply dropped to 2,830 in 2020 and 2,306 in 2021, because the police try to avoid issuing certificates automatically. In 2021, certificates were issued to citizens of: Afghanistan (1,025), Syria (466), Burundi (134), Pakistan (120), Bangladesh (107), Cuba (92), Iraq (51), Iran (35), India (35), Somalia (31), Morocco, (29),Türkiye (22), Egypt (18), Algeria (12), Armenia (11), Palestine (11), Yemen (10), Cameroon (9), Guinea-Bissau (9), Libya (8), DR Congo (6), Russia (6), North Macedonia (4), Sierra Leone (4), Unknown (4), Burkina Faso (3), Ghana (3), Guinea (3), Togo (3), Albania (2), Bulgaria (2), Croatia (2), Gambia (2), Jordan (2), Mali (2),  Nigeria (2), Poland (2), Senegal (2), USA (2) and 1 citizen from Bosnia and Hercegovina, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Mexico, Niger, South Sudan, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Sudan and 1 stateless person.

In 2022, the MoI issued the total of 4,181 registration certificates to the citizens of: Afghanistan (1,452), Burundi (943), Syria (574), Pakistan (263), Morocco (191), Egypt (81),  India (77), Iran (72), Congo (72), Guinea-Bissau (64), Cuba (49), DR Palestine (40) Iraq (36), Russia (34), Tunisia (31), Ghana (23), Bangladesh (23), Türkiye (15), Somalia (13), Cameroon (12), Congo (12), Guinea (9), Ukraine (8), Algeria (6), Sudan (5); as well as 4 registration certificates to citizens of Sierra Leone, Libya, BiH and Bulgaria; 3 to citizens of China, Comoros, Eritrea, Germany, Gambia and Cote d’Ivoire; 2 to citizens of Angola, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, Nigeria, Poland, Senegal, Tanzania and Yemen; and 1 to citizens of Albania, Benin, Bolivia, Canada, Croatia, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, France, UK, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Myanmar, Mongolia, North Macedonia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Togo and the US.

The registration certificate in Serbia is not considered an asylum application and thus, an individual who possesses one is not considered an asylum seeker, but a person who intends to become one.[9] Therefore, expressing the intention to seek asylum does not constitute the initiation of the asylum procedure. It is, however, a precondition for lodging the asylum application.

After the foreigner is registered, they are referred to an Asylum Centre or another facility designated for accommodation of asylum seekers, usually other Reception Centres. The foreigner is obliged to report to the facility within 72 hours from the moment of issuance of the registration certificate.[10] Transportation costs to reach the facility are not covered. If a foreigner fails, without a justified reason, to report to the Asylum Centre or other facility designated within 72 hours of registration, the regulations on the legal status of foreigners shall apply. Thus, the person will be considered an irregular migrant, which should not be the case for people in need of international protection or who, on the basis of their origin, have a prima facie claim.[11] They then risk being penalised in a misdemeanour proceeding[12] and served with an expulsion decision (either a decision on cancellation of residency[13] or return decision[14]). Still, practice has shown that persons issued with certificates which have expired are allowed to lodge asylum application in the vast majority of cases.

According to the MoI, when issuing registration certificates and referring persons to one of the Asylum Centres or Reception Centres, the police officers advise the persons who express the intention to seek asylum about their right to submit an asylum application and their other rights and obligations, in line with Article 56 of the Asylum Act.[15] The letter also indicates that a brochure on asylum seekers’ rights and obligations is being drafted and that will be made available in all the organisational units of the MoI which issue registration certificates, and to the facilities for accommodation of asylum seekers and migrants.[16] According to the information collected from CSOs, the said brochures in languages that asylum seekers understand have not been distributed yet. Hence, it remains unclear how foreigners are advised about their rights and obligations given the language barrier between them and the police officers, and the fact that interpreters are rarely present in these cases. However, the MoI and Asylum Office outlined that leaflets have been distributed to all police departments in Serbia in December 2022. The practice in 2023 will show to which extent potential asylum seekers will benefit from these leaflets and if they will be used in practice.[17]

There were no obstacles in the registration procedure due to COVID-19 in 2022, as it was the case in 2020.[18]

Concerns in practice

According to the Asylum Office, one person cannot be issued with two or more registration certificates, but it is possible for the same person to be issued with a copy of the registration certificate in case when it has expired or has been stolen or lost. There were also many instances in which the expired registration certificate was considered valid and an individual was allowed to submit his or her asylum application.[19] This possibility exists as long as an asylum application has not been rejected, in which case asylum seeker may lodge a Subsequent Application.[20]

The above-described approach was that taken by the Asylum Office in all cases except when foreigners receive a decision on cancellation of residency[21] or a return decision.[22] In such situations, it is still not entirely clear whether or not the Asylum Office and MoI consider that these people still have the right to apply for asylum and the practice varies from one case to another. For instance, an unaccompanied child was allowed to submit an asylum application regardless of the fact that he was served with two return decisions.[23] On the other hand, a boy from Afghanistan who was issued with a return decision was not allowed to access the asylum procedure and submit his asylum application.[24] There were no recorded instances in 2021 and 2022 where persons with decisions on cancellation of residency or return decisions were denied access to asylum procedure, which is welcome. However, in 2022, DRC and IDEAS witnessed numerous instances in which people were issued expulsion orders for not applying for asylum within the deadline of 23 days, but it remains unclear if they would be allow to apply for asylum because all these people decided to leave Serbia. In 2022, Klikaktiv reported that people readmitted from Romania were not allowed to register as asylum seekers because they were, upon their return, automatically served with expulsion orders.[25]

The lack of clarity with regard to access to the asylum procedure for people in need of international protection who are treated as irregular migrants (since they are issued with an expulsion order or penalised in the misdemeanour proceeding) gives reasons for concern. According to the Foreigners Act, they could be forcibly removed to a third country (in the vast majority of cases to Bulgaria and North Macedonia) or even to the country of origin in which they could be subjected to ill-treatment. Thus, it is very important to outline that the current practice of most police departments in Serbia regarding the issuance of expulsion decisions must be improved so that it includes procedural safeguards against refoulement. Accordingly, this procedure should be conducted in a manner that implies that the foreigner is allowed to contest their removal to a third country or to the country of origin with the assistance of a lawyer and interpreter, with the possibility to lodge a remedy for judicial review of the negative first instance decision. This remedy must have automatic suspensive effect. None of these safeguards are currently in place. Moreover, the entire procedure is based on the simple delivery of the decision to a foreigner, decision drafted in a standard template that only contains different personal data, but no rigorous scrutiny of risks of refoulement is applied.[26]

As it has been the case in previous years, the total of 4,181certificates issued in 2022 does not adequately reflect the real number of persons who were genuinely interested in seeking asylum in Serbia since only 320 of them officially lodged an asylum application. Registration certificates are mainly issued for the purpose of securing a place in one of the Asylum or Reception Centres, where asylum seekers may enjoy basic rights such as accommodation, food, health care, psycho-social support from CSOs (see Types of Accommodation). Under these circumstances, the MoI does not adequately assess an individual’s aspirations, i.e. whether or not they genuinely want to remain in Serbia.

Since 2009, a total of 65,328 registration certificates were issued. Out of that number, only 4,020 asylum applications were lodged, which is 0.6% of all foreigners registered in line with the Asylum Act in Serbia.


The correlation between the number of registration certificates and asylum applications in Serbian asylum system 2009-2021

Year No. of Registration Certificates No. of Asylum Applications
2009 272 181
2010 788 215
2011 3,131 218
2012 2,856 335
2013 5,066 89
2014 16,498 379
2015 579,507 583
2016 12,699 574
2017 6,200 233
2018 7,638 324
2019 12,918 249
2020 2,830 145
2021 2,306 175






Total 653,028 4,020

However, it is important to highlight that a person who possesses a registration certificate is not considered to be an asylum seeker, and thus is not recognised in the Asylum Act as person who is entitled to enjoy the rights enshrined in Article 48. In other words, foreigners issued with registration certificates, but also those who are not registered at all, but are accommodated in Asylum or Reception centres, are in legal limbo. They are not entitled to any of the rights, including the right to reside in reception facilities administered by the CRM, but their stay has always been tolerated. Still, this indicates that the vast majority of persons in need of international protection lack legal certainty with regards to their status. The first draft of Amendments of the Asylum Act contained a provision under which this category is to be recognised and entitled to the material reception conditions and these amendments have remained unchanged after the public debate was finalised in February 2022.

It is common practice that persons who genuinely want to apply for asylum are referred to Reception Centres[27] instead of Asylum Centres (see section on Reception Conditions), thereby postponing their entry into the asylum procedure. Consequently, CSOs providing legal assistance have to advocate for their transfer to one of the five Asylum Centres or only to the AC in Krnjača and Banja Koviljača in 2022. This process can sometimes last for several weeks, which further delays access to the asylum procedure, and can cause frustration or discouragement to the applicants. APC even highlighted that asylum seekers referred to AC Tutin have been denied access to the asylum procedure since the Asylum Office has failed to visit this Centre in 2020[28] and 2021. In 2021, Asylum Office facilitated the asylum procedure in Belgrade in more than 90% of the cases by allowing people accommodated in Belgrade to lodge asylum applications in person or by organising asylum hearings. In 2022, AC Sjenica and Turin were visited on two occasions for the purpose of lodging of asylum applications and asylum hearings. However, legal representatives, in most of the cases, successfully managed to negotiate with CRM and Asylum Office that asylum seekers be placed in AC Krnjača regardless of the reception facility to which they were referred in the registration certificate. This is an example of good practice. Another example of good practice was the fact that CRM was assisting asylum seekers in reception facilities outside Belgrade to fill out asylum applications in writing and to send them via post to the Asylum Office. Afterwards, those who stay long enough are transferred to AC in Krnjača. Due to increased number of written asylum applications in the summer of 2022, the CRM stopped referring written asylum applications to the Asylum Office, for two months. However, at the end of 2022, CRM continued with supporting asylum seekers in this process which has basically become a precondition for their transfer to Belgrade where they would reduce the waiting period for the first instance procedure to be conducted.

One of the solutions for this problem would be that all genuine asylum seekers should be placed in the Belgrade asylum centres in Krnjača and Obrenovac (designated as Asylum Centre in 2021), which have the capacity to accommodate on an annual basis all persons who are interested in staying in Serbia. The Asylum Office shares these views, however, the CRM has been declining this proposal without providing any reasonable explanation.

By placing all genuine asylum seekers in Krnjača or Obrenovac, an entire set of improvements would be achieved:

  • The time period between the issuance of the registration certificate and the first instance decision would be significantly shortened since the applicants would not be compelled to wait, sometimes, for weeks to be transferred from Reception Centres to an Asylum Centre;
  • The Asylum Office, which is based in Belgrade, would focus the majority of its limited resources on the Asylum Centre based in the same city, and thus would conduct the asylum procedure in a more effective manner, scheduling lodging of asylum applications and interviews faster and more often than it is the case now, especially in distant Asylum Centres such as Sjenica and Tutin;
  • Genuine asylum seekers would have access to more effective legal counselling since the CSOs providing free legal assistance are based in Belgrade and can be present more often in the centre;
  • The resources which are necessary to facilitate the asylum procedure in distant camps, such as travel and accommodation costs of asylum officers and interpreters, would be saved.[29]

One case from January 2022 deserves special attention and is related to a political activist from Bahrein, who was denied access to asylum procedure and extradited to his country of origin despite a request for interim measures lodged by the BCHR and granted by the ECtHR.[30] The person had been held in extradition detention in Serbia since November 2021, although he expressed the intention to seek asylum to the relevant authorities during the extradition procedure, claiming that he was at risk of being subjected to torture and political persecution if returned to his country of origin. This flagrant denial of access to the asylum procedure, and ignoring of ECtHR’s interim measure resembles the case of Cevdet Ayaz, who was extradited to Türkiye despite CAT interim measure and before his asylum procedure was concluded.[31] The case was communicated to the Government of Serbia in June 2022 and it is pending.[32]

Access to the asylum procedure for persons expelled/returned from neighbouring States

It is important to reiterate that people expelled or returned from Hungary, Croatia and Romania informally or in line with the Readmission Agreement between the EU and the Republic of Serbia on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation[33] can face obstacles in accessing the asylum procedure. It is not clear what the official stance of Serbian authorities vis-à-vis such cases is, but there were several CSOs’ interventions in the past which show that access to asylum procedures may be impeded for people who were penalised in misdemeanour proceeding or were issued with an expulsion order.[34] In particular, the denial of access to the asylum procedure is a common practice applicable to persons who are likely in need of international protection and who attempted to irregularly cross to Croatia hidden in the back of a truck or van at the official border crossing. After they are discovered by the Croatian border police and informally surrendered back to the Serbian police, they are automatically taken to the misdemeanour court in Šid or Bačka Palanka where they are penalised for a misdemeanour of illegal stay or entry and subsequently served with a decision on cancellation of residency or a decision on return.[35] Both of these decisions have the nature of an expulsion order. Therefore, if they decide to apply for asylum, they could be denied that possibility and will be further treated as irregular migrants[36] and can be also pushed to an informal system, outside reception centres. That was the case with the late Afghani USAC X. who was eventually killed by smugglers in front of the Asylum Centre in Krnjača.[37] Another case of UASC denied access to the asylum procedure[38] upon the return from Hungary is still pending before the ECtHR.[39]

Similar problems in 2022 were reported by Klikaktiv in relation to people readmitted from Romania reported the following:

‘Over the past years, most of the people on move have not had access to asylum procedure in Serbia. Police stations in the cities on the north of the country, where the majority of people reside and where they are being accepted after the readmission, refuse to register people on the move as asylum seekers and ignore their asylum claims. This practice forces people to turn to smuggling networks where they are at risk of human trafficking and different types of exploitation. Therefore, people who are in need of international protection are forced to stay in one of the transiting camps or in informal settlements run by smugglers, in very poor conditions, without access to basic necessities such as food, heating and clothes.[40]

It is necessary that the Asylum Office communicate a clear message to all police departments that every person who expresses the intention to apply for asylum should be issued with a registration certificate and that people who are in need of international protection cannot be protected by refoulement in the procedures prescribed by Foreigners Act due to the lack of capacity of immigration officers to assess risks of refoulement.

The conclusion that can be drawn from the above-described practices is that asylum seekers should not be returned to Serbia without a prior assessment of the facts related to individual’s previous legal status. Moreover, a request for individual assurances[41] should be designed in line with possible obstacles being mainly related to access to the asylum procedure. However, taking in consideration the very high dysfunctionality of the child-protection system, USAC should not be returned back to Serbia until the situation significantly improves.[42] Considering Serbia as a safe third country in the context of pushbacks or readmissions severely undermines the Article 3 of the ECtHR in its procedural limb. This was corroborated by the ECtHR in its judgment against Hungary which is related to three Syrian refugees expelled back under the automatic presumption that Serbia is a safe third country.[43] The case contains identical findings as in the Grand Chamber judgment Ilias and Ahmed v. Hungary.[44] The violation of Article 3 in this particular case was related to the lack of assessment on the risks of chain-refoulement from Serbia onwards to North Macedonia.

To summarise, before returning asylum seekers back to Serbia, Croatian, Hungarian, Romanian but also Bosnian authorities must determine the following facts and ensure such individual guarantees:

  • what kind of status has the individual enjoyed in Serbia (asylum seeker, irregular migrant or other);
  • taking in consideration the determined status, the assurances should contain strong guarantees that individual will not be referred to the misdemeanour proceeding and will not be issued with any form of the expulsion order;
  • returnee will be issued with the registration certificate or its duplicate;
  • returnees will be afforded legal representation by either BCHR, APC, IDEAS, HCIT or other lawyers who have demonstrated qualifications in asylum and migration law;
  • interpretation will be secured from the first contact with the immigration officers.

Additional facts, which must be taken in consideration from the aspect of individual assurances which must be obtained before the return to Serbia, are the following:

  • ill-treatment committee by the hands of organized criminal groups controlling the border area and reception facilities which are in poor state and which are located in the north of Serbia
  • poor, unhygienic and unsafe living conditions in the informal settlement
  • acts of extreme right-wing groups who act against impunity.

Problems regarding access to the procedure at Nikola Tesla Airport are identical (see Access to the Territory). Thus, people who are denied access to territory are simultaneously denied access to asylum procedure.

Even though APC and BCHR still have effective access to the Detention Centre for Foreigners in Padinska Skela (DC Padinska Skela), one case deserves a special attention and highlights the late reaction of lawyers, but also contentious practice of the MoI observed by NPM, which also failed to react and prevent an expulsion lacking procedural safeguards against refoulement. Namely, in August 2020, an Iranian family was forcibly removed to Bulgaria for the second time, even though they strongly objected. Thus, they were denied the possibility to access the asylum procedure or to legally challenge the expulsion decision in a procedure where they would actively participate with the help of a lawyer and an interpreter. [45] In 2022, only 4 persons were issued with the registration certificate in DC Padinska Skela out of 272 detainees. Out of 272 detainees, 90 were from Afghanistan and 40 from Syria. A total of 5 Syrians was forcibly removed to Bulgaria, as well as 58 Afghanis. Due to the lack of facts surrounding the said cases, it is not possible to assess to which extent safeguards against refoulement were respected, but it is clear that these removals were performed on the basis of expulsion orders rendered in a manner which does not take into consideration risks of ill-treatment in the receiving State with rigorous scrutiny, ex nunc and proprio motu. The fact that several forced removals were monitored by the Ombudsman and NPM does not provide for assurances taking in consideration that this body has never assessed potential instances of human rights violations. In its Report on NPM activities related to monitoring of forced removals the Ombudsman stated the following:

‘None of the foreigners outlined to the NPM team the facts which would indicate a danger that their basic human rights could be threatened in the country to which they are removed. They expressed uncertainty as to further proceedings against them in the country to which they are removed or what would happened if state officials leave them at the border crossing.’

The total number of registration certificates issued in the period 1 January 2022 – 31 December 2022

Month Total number of registration certificates  


Detention centre in Padinska Skela Police Departments  

Border Area

Asylum Office
January 201 40 0 111 35 15
February 210 37 0 118 52 3
March 277 39 0 139 78 21
April 387 40 0 240 97 10
May 529 90 0 391 42 6
June 377 39 1 302 30 5
July 672 85 2 360 225 0
August 421 62 0 227 112 20
September 297 93 1 73 108 22
October 294 90 0 158 46 0
November 214 24 0 135 55 0
December 302 50 0 244 8 0
Total 4,181 689 4 2,948 888 102


Lodging an application

The asylum procedure is initiated by lodging (“submitting”) an application before an authorised asylum officer, on a prescribed form within 15 days of the date of registration.[46] If the authorised asylum officer does not enable the person to lodge the application within that deadline, they may themselves fill in the asylum application form within 8 days after the expiry of the 15-day time limit.[47] The asylum procedure shall be considered initiated after the lodging of the asylum application form at the Asylum Office.[48]

If strictly interpreted, the deadline of 15 plus 8 days could create serious problems regarding access to the asylum procedure because the reality in Serbia is that the vast majority of persons in need of international protection do not consider Serbia as a country of destination. However, they are predominantly and automatically issued with registration certificates and are thus subject to this deadline. In case the foreigner fails to meet the deadline, Article 35(13) of the Asylum Act envisages that they will be treated in line with the Foreigners Act, which further means that they could face expulsion to a third country or even the country of origin in case of direct arrival to Serbia.

This solution is questionable on many levels. The main reason is the short period left from the moment of registration until the expiry of the 15-plus-8-day deadline for the lodging of the asylum application. There are several relevant observations to support this:

  • The capacities of the Asylum Office are still insufficient to cover the hundreds of cases in which the registration certificate is automatically issued, and the police officer of the Asylum Office is not present in any of the Asylum Centres
  • The capacities of CSOs providing free legal assistance are also insufficient to effectively cover all the Reception Centres and Asylum Centres within the set deadline and at the same time provide thorough legal counselling and preparation for asylum interviews;
  • If strictly interpreted, hundreds of people who enjoy the status of asylum seeker would be forced to submit an asylum application and then abscond from the procedure, which further means that the Asylum Office would have to render hundreds of decisions on discontinuation of the asylum procedure. This would strongly affect its regular work with the applicants who genuinely want to stay in Serbia. In other words, the time it will take for genuine asylum seekers to have an interview and receive a first instance decision would be significantly extended;
  • Those people who miss the deadline but have a prima facie refugee claim would be considered to be irregular migrants and would be treated in line with the Foreigners Act. Accordingly, they would be exposed to the risk of refoulement to one of the neighbouring countries such as Bulgaria and North Macedonia.
  • Vulnerable applicants such as SGBV survivors, torture victims and vulnerable applicants sometimes require weeks or months before they are capable of sharing their traumatic experiences in asylum procedure.

For that reason, it is encouraging that the stance of the Asylum Office still implies flexible interpretation of Article 36, as it considers that the possibility to lodge an asylum application should be provided for all people regardless of the deadline.[49] The arguments for this approach could be derived from the jurisprudence of the ECtHR and the case Jabari v. Türkiye in which the Court stated that “the automatic and mechanical application” of a short time limit (for submitting an asylum application) “must be considered at variance with the protection of the fundamental value embodied in Article 3 of the Convention.”[50] However, it is clear that as long as this kind of provision exists in the Asylum Act, the risk of its strict interpretation will continue to exist, especially if the current policy, which implies a more or less flexible approach towards irregular stay of refugees, changes. Additionally, there are academics who are occasionally hired to conduct trainings for decision-makers in Administrative Law, and who are in favour of a strict interpretation of Article 36.[51] For that reason, an amendment of this provision would dispel any doubts on possible mass denial of access to the asylum procedure in the future. IDEAS has suggested the removal of the deadline-related provision from the Asylum Act during the consultations with the MoI in November 2021 and provided a draft of potential solutions.

In 2022, a total of 320 asylum applications were submitted. Out of them, 256 applications were submitted in writing and sent to the Asylum Office, while 66 were lodged directly in person. A total of 2 applications were subsequent applications. Out of a total of 320 first-time asylum applications, 181 were submitted by Burundians, 40 by Cubans, 20 by Russians, 14 by Syrians, 7 by Afghans, 6 by citizens of Guinea-Bissau, India and Ukraine, 5 by Armenians and Tunisians, 4 by Iraqis, 3 by Congolese and Turkish, 2 by Iranians, Polish, Sierra Leoneans and Tanzanians and 1 by citizens of Cameroon, Canada, Croatia, Egypt, Eritrea, Germany, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Slovenia and 1 Stateless person.

As for the subsequent applications, 2 were submitted by 1 Turkish and 1 Kyrgyzstan nationals who have been facing extradition to their countries of origin.

In the second half of 2020, the Asylum Office started to conduct hearings based on the written asylum applications and this has now become a predominant way of initiating the asylum procedure, accepted by CSOs as well who had a practice to wait for the Asylum Office to schedule an application submission in person and in that way contribute to the prolongation of asylum procedure. This means that the lodging of a written asylum application has continued to o function in practice as the most common way of initiating the asylum process.

Also, forms for written asylum applications were translated in languages such as Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, and Pashto and were distributed to Asylum and Reception Centres, which means that foreigners can now lodge asylum applications by themselves, with the help of CRM whose staff was responsible for sending applications to the headquarters of the Asylum Office. It remains unclear how many asylum seekers lodged asylum applications by themselves because the Asylum Office does not keep track of such data. According to IDEAS field experience, at least several dozen asylum seekers lodged written asylum applications without the help of legal representatives, but most likely this number can be higher than 50% of all asylum applications lodged in 2022. The question that remains open is if asylum seekers would need support to properly fill in the forms. In the period from October to early December 2022, foreigners were denied the possibility to lodge their applications in writing due to lack of assistance of the CRM.

In 2022 there were no COVID-19 measures which in any way affected lodging of asylum application as it was the case in 2020.[52]

Month Asylum Applications submitted in persons Written Asylum Application Subsequent asylum applications
January 16 26 0
February 5 16 0
March 19 11 0
April 1 2 0
May 5 24 0
June 15 66 0
July 2 43 1
August 0 11 1
September 2 11 0
October 0 12 0
November 1 22 0
December 0 13 0
Total 66 256 2




[1] Article 4(1) Asylum Act.

[2] Article 35(1) Asylum Act.

[3] Article 35(2) Asylum Act.

[4] Article 11 Asylum Act.

[5] Article 35(5) Asylum Act

[6] Article 35(12) Asylum Act.

[7] Article 8 Rulebook on Registration.

[8] See also BCHR, Right to Asylum in the Republic of Serbia 2019, 22-24.

[9] Article 2 (1) (4) Asylum Act.

[10] Article 35(3) Asylum Act.

[11] Article 35 (13) Asylum Act.

[12] Article 71 of the Border Control Act and Article 121 and 122 of the Foreigners Act and BCHR, Right to Asylum in the Republic of Serbia -Periodic Report for January – June 2020, available at:, 15-21.

[13] Article 39 (3) Foreigners Act.

[14] Article 77 (1) Foreigners Act.

[15] The letter from the MoI-Police Directorate-Border Police Administration No. 26-1991/18.

[16] Information provided by the Border Police, 6 December 2018.

[17] Information was provided by the MoI at the UNHCR seminar on access to territory that took place in Sremska Kamenica in December 2022.

[18] AIDA, Country Report Serbia, 2020 Update, March 2021, 35.

[19] A Pakistani national represented by independent attorney at law submitted asylum application in December 2020, regardless of the fact that his registration certificate ‘expired’.

[20] Article 46 Asylum Act.

[21] Article 39 Foreigners Act.

[22] Articles 74 and 77 (1) Foreigners Act.

[23] IDEAS lawyers submitted written asylum application in December 2020.

[24] ECtHR, M.W. v. Serbia, Application No 70923/17, communicated on 26 March 2019.

[25] Klikaktiv, Formalizing Pushbacks – The use of readmission agreements in pushback operations at the Serbian-Romanian border, available at:

[26] ECtHR, Chahal v the United Kingdom, Application no. 22414/93, Judgment of 15 November 1996, EDAL, available at:, para. 96 and D and Others v. Romania, Application No 75953/16, 14 January 2020, EDAL, available at:

[27] The Reception Centres were opened during the 2015/2016 mass influx of refugees and are mainly designated for accommodation of foreigners who are not willing to remain in Serbia.

[28] APC, Azilni postupak nedostižan za izbeglice, 27 November 2020, available at:

[29] Ibid.

[30] Mohamed v. Serbia, Application No 4662/22, granted on 21 January 2022.

[31] BCHR, Serbia wrongfully extradited Bahraini national despite European Court of Human Rights interim measure, available at:

[32] ECtHR, Mohamed v. Serbia, Application No. 4662/22, 4 July 2022, available at:

[33] Available at:

[34] See more in AIDA, Country Report Serbia, 2019 Update, May 2020, 29

[35] Misdemeanor Judgment No. P 65/19 from 14 January 2019.

[36] This kind of practice was determined during the Author’s 10-day field mission in Serbian border town with Croatia in September 2019. The field mission report will be published in late February 2020.

[37] N1, ‘Ubijen migrant koji je bio osumnjičen za ubistvo Avganistanca u centru Beograda’, 6 June 2019, available (in Serbian) at:

[38] See more in AIDA, Country Report Serbia, 2021 Update, May 2021, p. 58

[39] ECtHR, M.W. v. Serbia, Application No 70923/17, communicated on 26 March 2019.

[40] Klikaktiv, Formalizing Pushbacks – The use of readmission agreements in pushback operations at the Serbian-Romanian border, available at:

[41] ECtHR, Tarakhel v. Switzerland, Application no. 29217/12, Judgment of 4 November 2014, EDAL, available at:, para. 121-122.

[42] The cases of M.W. and USAC X. are the most striking examples of this practice.

[43] ECtHR, W.A. and Others v. Hungary, Applications Nos. 64050/16 64558/16 and 66064/16, Judgment of 15 December 2022, available at:

[44] See more at HHC, Asylum seekers won at the European Court of Human Rights again, 19 December 2022, available at:

[45] The Ombudsman, Тим Заштитника грађана у обављању послова НПМ обавио надзор над принудним удаљењем иранске породице у Бугарску, 3 September 2020, available at:

[46] Article 36(1) Asylum Act.

[47] Article 36(2) Asylum Act.

[48] Article 36(3) Asylum Act.

[49] See more in AIDA, Country Report: Serbia, Update 2018, March 2019, 25.

[50] ECtHR, Jabari v. Türkiye, Application No 40035/98, Judgment of 11 July 2000, EDAL, available at:, para 40.

[51] AIDA, Country Report, 2019 Update, 31-32.

[52] AIDA, Country Report Serbia, 2020 Update, March 2021, 37.

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