2. Key provisions concerning the duty to provide documentation in connection with applications for visas, residence permits or protection
3. How to carry out control of persons and documents
3.1 Who will carry out the control
3.2 What documents are to be checked
3.3.The role of the police districts
3.4 The role of the foreign service missions
3.4.1. Minimum control
3.4.2 Extended control
3.5 Procedures when a document is deemed to be suspicious or false
4. Work following the control of persons and documents
4.1. Registrations and remarks relating to controls in the first-line service
4.2. Information that is to be presented to the applicant for comment
4.3. Forwarding information to Landinfo, NID and Kripos
4.4. Assessment of information obtained through control of persons and documents
4.5. Information about the UDI's assessment relating to the control of persons and documents
Everyone who applies for a visa or a residence permit in Norway or who is covered by the registration system for EEA nationals shall, as a rule, present a passport or another approved travel document as proof of his/her identity. In the immigration authorities’ experience, such documents can be forged, and some people try to use documents that belong to someone else. That is why it is important to carry out control of persons and documents. This circular contains guidelines for how the first-line services, i.e. the police or the foreign service missions, are to check whether the applicant's identity documents are genuine (document control) and whether the applicant is the rightful owner of the documents (control of person). The guidelines also apply to visa cases in which the applicant is required to appear in person, but they do not regulate which visa cases such a requirement will apply to.
This circular only concerns checking documents against the person who is applying and checking whether the documents are genuine. In this connection, that a document is genuine means that it has been issued by the proper authority in the correct manner. However, a document that has been issued by the proper authority in the correct manner is not deemed to be a genuine document if parts of the document have been changed without the authorisation of the proper authority. This circular does not regulate other types of investigations, such as checking whether the content of the document is based on correct information or whether other information provided by the applicant is correct; see the circular concerning verification, RS 2010-155. Moreover, the circular does not discuss the issue of whether the documents are generally credible. Here, reference is made, for example, to Landinfo’s studies as regards the general notoriety of documents from different countries in the Country of origin information database. Nor does the circular apply to the document control carried out by the National Police Immigration Service (PU) in asylum cases.
The objective of this circular is to establish common procedures for how the control of persons and identity documents shall be carried out in visa and residence cases. The guidelines apply to the first-line services in immigration cases, i.e. the police and the foreign service missions. There are some differences between the requirements for document control carried out by the police and that carried out by the foreign service missions, and also between the different foreign service missions.
The following definitions apply in this circular:
- Control of persons: Checking the identity document against the applicant, for example checking that the photo, hair colour, eye colour etc. match the applicant, and that the applicant is familiar with and can elaborate on the information contained in the document.
- Document control: Investigations carried out to check whether a document has been issued by the proper authority in the correct manner, that the necessary fields have been completed, that the document does not appear to have been altered (without authorisation) etc., and that it otherwise appears to be genuine. This control is not the same as verification; see the next section.
- Verification: Investigations carried out to check the stated identity against a register, by contacting the issuing authority, interviewing neighbours or in some other manner, cf. circular RS 2010-155 concerning verification in immigration cases (the verification circular).
- Genuine document: A document that has been issued by the proper authority in the correct manner.
- Identity: A set of characteristics that, together, define a unique reference to a specific person; see circular RS 2010-146 concerning registration, assessment and changing of information about identity in cases pursuant to the Immigration Act (the ID circular – only in Norwegian), Chapter 2.3.
- Notoriety: The credibility of the information (contents) in the documents. Credibility is related to the extent to which the documents in question have been issued on the basis of registered and verifiable information and in accordance with satisfactory procedures.
One of the conditions for being granted a Schengen visa is that the applicant holds a valid travel document or a document that permits border crossings, cf. the Immigration Act section 10 first paragraph letter a) and the Immigration Regulations section 3-17 fourth paragraph.
The Immigration Regulations section 10-2 second paragraph states that foreign nationals who apply for a residence permit must document their identity by means of a passport or another identity document issued by a public authority. For those applying for protection, the Immigration Act section 93 first paragraph second sentence states that the applicant must submit his/her passport or other travel document they are in possession of together with the application. These conditions also entail a requirement that the documents presented are genuine, cf. the General Civil Penal Code section 182.
The Immigration Act section 83 second paragraph and the Immigration Regulations section 17-7 contain provisions concerning the duty of foreign nationals to provide information. These provisions apply both to applications for residence permits and to applications for protection. It follows from the Immigration Act section 83 second paragraph that, when the immigration authorities so require, a foreign national must contribute to clarifying his/her identity stated upon entry and until such time as the correct identity is registered. The foreign national can also be subject to such a duty at a later point if there is reason to believe that the registered identity is not correct. The Immigration Regulations section 17-7 contains provisions about what may be required of the foreign national in such cases. The foreign national can be required to provide information, present documentation and obtain or contribute to obtaining information from the authorities in Norway and abroad that can help to clarify his/her identity. In connection with the preparation of cases pursuant to the Immigration Act, applicants may be required to appear in person and provide information that may have a bearing on the decision, cf. the Immigration Act section 83 first paragraph. An EEA national who is required to register pursuant to section 117 must present a valid passport or identity card, cf. the second paragraph of the provision. Persons who are entitled to a residence card pursuant to the Immigration Act section 118 (family members of EEA nationals) must also present a passport.
A fine or imprisonment may be imposed on a foreign national who fails to comply with an order to contribute to clarifying his/her identity, or who provides materially incorrect or obviously misleading information about his/her identity, cf. the Immigration Act section 108 first paragraph letters a) and c). Moreover, making a false statement and using false documents is punishable pursuant to the General Civil Penal Code sections 166, 182 and 333. A foreign national who is ordered to contribute to clarifying his/her identity pursuant to the Immigration Regulations section 17-7 first or third paragraph, must be informed of the fact that it may be a criminal offence not to comply with such an order, cf. section 17-7 fourth paragraph of the regulations.
The Immigration Act and the regulations contain a number of provisions empowering the police to use various methods to uncover a foreign national’s correct identity, including taking the fingerprints of the person in question and using various coercive measures such as arrest, house searches and seizure; see the Immigration Act Chapter 12 and the Immigration Regulations Chapter 18.
It is the agency to which the foreign national submits the application (the first-line service) that is responsible for checking persons and documents. This means it is the case officer at the foreign service mission or the police who must carry out the initial control.
The first-line service at the police or the foreign service mission shall carry out controls of persons and documents in accordance with the guidelines in Chapters 3.3 and 3.4 in connection with the following identity documents:
- national passports and other travel documents, cf. the Immigration Act section 8 and the Immigration Regulations Chapter 2. This comprises
national passports, cf. the Immigration Regulations section 2-4
national ID cards from EU countries, cf. Appendix 4 to the Immigration Regulations
laissez-passer (emergency passports)
travel documents for refugees, cf. the Immigration Regulations section 2-5
immigrant passports, cf. the Immigration Regulations section 2-5
The first-line service can also check other types of identity documents than those mentioned in the first paragraph, including national ID cards for some countries outside the EU. The first-line service is only obliged to do this if so requested by the Directorate of Immigration (UDI) or the Immigration Appeals Board (UNE) in connection with the consideration of individual cases or groups of cases. Which identity documents are to be checked in different types of cases and what type of control is to be carried out are decided by the police or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (UD) and the foreign service missions in consultation with the UDI and UNE. In such cases, the UDI can, in consultation with the police or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the foreign service missions, issue specific guidelines for what type of control the police or the foreign service missions are to carry out in relation to the different identity documents.
When a person applies for a residence permit from Norway, the police district must always carry out a minimum control (control of person and document); see below. What documents are to be checked is described in Chapter 3.2. The minimum control must be carried out regardless of who the applicant is and what type of case it concerns.
Persons who apply for protection must submit the identity documents they are in possession of together with the application. These documents will be checked by the National Police Immigration Service. Some applicants will nonetheless sometimes submit documents to the local police district later on. In such cases, the police district must check that the applicant is the rightful holder of the document; see letter a) below. The document must then be sent to the National Police Immigration Service to check its authenticity. If persons who have been granted a residence permit after applying for protection present identity documents in connection with renewal of the permit, the local police district must check the person and the documents in accordance with the guidelines in this circular. More information about renewal is available in circular RS 2013-017 (only in Norwegian). Renewal of permits pursuant to the Immigration Act section 38 that are limited due to doubt about the person’s identity or undocumented identity.
A minimum control involves:
a) matching the passport or other identity document with the applicant (control of person)
The person at the police who receives an application for a residence permit must always check that the passport or other ID document, cf. Chapter 3.2, actually belongs to the applicant. The same applies when the police issue a residence permit to a person who has submitted an application to a foreign service mission, if it is clear from the UDI’s letter to the police that the applicant has not been required to appear in person at the foreign service mission.
This must be checked by comparing the photo with the applicant, looking at his/her hair colour, eye colour and height (if this is specified in the document) and by comparing the applicant's signature with the signature on the document. They should also check whether the stated date of birth appears to correspond with the person’s age. If a female applicant appears with her face completely or partially covered, she must be asked to show her face. If the applicant finds this problematic, she must be given an opportunity to show her face in a room protected from public view, and to a female staff member if practically possible.
It may also be expedient to ask a few control questions if the police are in doubt about anything in the documents, for example whether the applicant comes from the country stated in his/her passport. If practically possible, endeavours can be made to clarify whether the applicant speaks or understands a language he/she must be assumed to understand based on the stated nationality etc. Other control questions can concern journeys that have been made as shown by stamps or visas in the passport.
For more detailed information about how the control of persons is to be carried out, see the brochure from the National Identity and Documentation Centre (NID).
b) a simple check of whether the document is genuine (document control)
The person who receives an application for a residence permit must always carry out a simple check of the document. In connection with applications for the renewal of a residence permit, where the applicant submits the same identity document as before, it is not necessary to check the document again.
A simple check of a document’s authenticity includes checking
- that the document does not appear to have been manipulated or ‘tampered’ with, for example that information seems to have been altered
- that necessary stamps, control digits (in machine-readable passports), watermarks etc. seem to be genuine
- that the paper quality feels genuine compared with corresponding documents with which the case officer has experience
- whether the document contains other elements, or lacks information, that a genuine document should contain
- that the passport has been signed by the applicant. If the passport was issued while the applicant was living in Norway, it must be checked whether the applicant appeared in person before the authorities in his/her country of citizenship.
For more detailed information about how the control of documents is to take place, see the brochure from NID.
In many cases, the police must carry out a more comprehensive control of the documents:
a) when the case officer is unfamiliar with the type of document presented
If the police’s case officer is not familiar with the type of document presented, it must be checked whether the document is listed under the Council of the European Union’s ‘Table of travel documents entitling the holder to cross the external borders and which may be endorsed with a visa’ (the table of travel documents). Furthermore, the document must be checked against the reference databases available at the individual police station. Examples of such databases are Keesing Document Checker, Prado, Edison or other databases that contain specimens of the document in question.
b) in cases of concrete suspicion
A thorough check must always be carried out if the police, following the initial check, suspect that the document may be false, or if they are in doubt about whether the applicant is the rightful holder of the document. Such investigations may for example include checking against relevant registers that are available in the individual police district (Passcheck, reference databases, Elys or others). The document must also be inspected using a UV lamp and a magnifying glass.
In cases of concrete suspicion that a document is false, the applicant’s fingerprints must be taken. A fingerprint can, for example, uncover whether the applicant has previously applied for a residence permit using a different identity.
If the case officer who receives the application lacks the competence or equipment required to carry out the investigations him/herself, the case officer must ask for assistance, for example from other departments in the police. It may also be relevant to confiscate the document; cf. also Chapter 3.5. If the case officer is not authorised to do so, he/she may ask for the applicant's consent or contact a colleague with police powers. In cases where there is doubt about whether a document is false or has been issued in an irregular manner, it may also be relevant to consult the National Police Immigration Service.
c) following a risk assessment
Experience shows that there is a greater risk of documents from certain countries being forged, or that some types of documents may be more liable to forgery. It may also be the case that some types of applications from certain countries are commonly accompanied by false documents. The factors that require particular attention in this connection are constantly changing.
In risk cases, the police must always carry out technical investigations to check whether the document is genuine, i.e. check the document using a UV lamp, a magnifying glass or a microscope and any other equipment the police may have at their disposal. The document can also be checked against the reference registers to which the police have access, and, for example, Passcheck. It must be assessed which technical investigations are expedient for each risk type.
When the police assess the risk in a case, they may decide to check cases from countries in which documents have good notoriety even more thoroughly, since travel documents from such countries can confer better rights on their holder, such as freedom from visa requirements etc. For example, it is very important that a thorough check is carried out of ID documents for persons who wish to register or to be issued a residence card pursuant to the EEA Regulations. It is the police’s responsibility to administer the registration. They must carry out a control of the person and documents and then issue a registration certificate after assessing whether the person has legal residence in the country. The most important reason for this is that this group is granted residence for an indefinite period. This means that the foreign national's identity is checked only once. Another consequence is that family members of an ‘alleged EEA national’ from a third country will be entitled to enter and stay in Norway pursuant to the EEA Regulations. It is therefore very important that this check is thorough.
However, this does not mean that documents with low notoriety shall not be checked for authenticity.
Regular risk analyses must be conducted based on experience from all relevant agencies, e.g. Kripos (the National Criminal Investigation Service), the National Police Immigration Service, the UDI, UNE, foreign service missions, liaison officers and police districts, in addition to experience from other countries. Experience from other agencies, such as the Norwegian Tax Administration and the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Service (NAV), may also be relevant. NID has a particular responsibility for carrying out such risk assessments.
For more detailed information about the control of documents, see the brochure from NID.
When someone applies for a residence permit or a visa, including an entry visa, from abroad, it is the foreign service mission that must carry out the control of persons and documents. If the foreign service mission has entered into an agreement with external service providers for the receipt of applications, see Chapter 3.4.1, the agreement must state that they shall carry out the control of persons on behalf of the foreign service mission. In such cases, the documents must normally also be checked by the foreign service mission. When applications are submitted to honorary consulates, the consulate will check the person on behalf of the Norwegian foreign service mission, while the documents are sent to the foreign service mission, where they are checked for their authenticity, among other things.
In places where Norway is represented by another country's foreign service mission, the other country’s foreign service mission will carry out controls of persons and documents if this is part of the agreement between the countries. The other country’s foreign service mission will in such case carry out the control in accordance with its own procedures.
As the police do when the applicant is in Norway, the foreign service missions shall carry out a minimum control in all cases, with a possible exception for applications that, based on their content, will obviously not be approved. Reference is made to Chapter 3.3.1 concerning how to carry out a minimum control. Further reference is made to the brochure from NID, which is available here (link). The foreign service missions will often be relatively familiar with what a genuine document from the country looks like, and what the issuing procedures are for the document in question.
Not all applicants appear in person at the foreign service mission. In visa cases, this often applies to persons who apply through accredited travel agencies, or who are business travellers. These applicants are regarded as unproblematic (bona fide) by the foreign service missions. In such cases, it is not necessary to carry out a minimum control.
Moreover, some foreign service missions have entered into agreements with external service providers, for example for the receipt of applications for residence permits (outsourcing). In such cases, the foreign service mission must also delegate the task of carrying out controls of persons to the external service provider. The foreign service missions stipulate guidelines for the level and content of the controls that must be carried out in the contract with the relevant service provider. The foreign service missions also have procedures for checking that the controls are of the agreed scope and quality. In such cases, the documents will be sent to the foreign service missions, which will check, in accordance with the rest of Chapter 3.3.1, whether the documents are genuine. When applications are submitted to honorary consulates, the consulate will check the person on behalf of the Norwegian foreign service mission, while the documents are sent to the foreign service mission to check their authenticity.
The foreign service missions may also – by agreement with the UDI – exempt certain groups of applicants from appearing in person. In such cases, no control of persons will be carried out. In cases where the original passport or other travel document is sent to the foreign service mission in connection with the introduction of entry visas, the foreign service mission must nonetheless check whether the document is genuine.
In some cases, the foreign service missions must carry out a more comprehensive control of the documents:
a) when the case officer is unfamiliar with the type of document presented
If the case officer at the foreign service mission is not familiar with the type of document presented, it must be checked whether the document is listed in the table of travel documents, and it must be checked against the reference databases available at the foreign service mission (databases that contain specimens of the relevant document), cf. Chapter 3.3.2.
b) in cases of concrete suspicion
A thorough check must always be carried out if the foreign service mission, following the initial check, suspects that the document may be false, or if there is doubt about whether the applicant is the rightful holder of the document. This can be done by checking the document against relevant reference databases or registers to which the foreign service mission has access. Furthermore, it must be checked using a UV lamp and a magnifying glass and any other equipment at the mission's disposal. An alternative is to contact the issuing authority concerned to verify that it has actually issued the document. Moreover, in cases where there is doubt about whether a document is false or has been issued in an irregular manner, it may also be relevant to consult the local foreign service missions of other countries. In special cases, the foreign service mission can also contact NID for advice.
c) following a risk assessment
Experience shows that there is a greater risk of documents from certain countries being forged, or that some types of documents may be more liable to forgery. It can also be the case that some types of applications from certain countries are commonly accompanied by false documents. What factors require particular attention in this connection is constantly changing. The foreign service missions should – in collaboration with other agencies such as other foreign embassies, liaison officers, the UDI and the police – define risk areas for residence cases based on the situation in their own region. As mentioned in Chapter 3.3.2, NID will have a particular responsibility for carrying out risk assessments. In visa cases, the joint Schengen guidelines set out in the Visa Handbook must be followed.
In risk cases, the foreign service missions must always carry out technical investigations to check whether the document is genuine, i.e. to check the document using a UV lamp, a magnifying glass or a microscope and any other equipment the foreign service mission has at its disposal. The document can also be checked against the reference registers at the foreign service mission's disposal. Which technical investigations it is expedient to carry out must be assessed for each type of risk.
For more detailed information about how to check whether a document is genuine, see the brochure from NID.
There are several leads that can be followed when a document is deemed to be suspicious. Many considerations can affect the assessment of how suspicion should be followed-up, for example how important the document in question is in relation to deciding the application, and whether it is possible to verify the document in the country in question. How the first-line service follows up a specific case will therefore often depend on a concrete overall assessment. In cases that will clearly result in rejection, for example, it will not be necessary to verify information. Read more about verification and the procedures concerning verification in the verification circular, RS 2010-155.
The case officer at the foreign service mission or the police must decide whether there are grounds for further investigation before a decision is made (where the first-line service is competent to do so) or the case is sent to the UDI. Such investigations can include checking against registers in the [applicant's] home country, or seeking advice from the National Police Immigration Service, Landinfo, foreign service missions in other countries, liaison officers and, in special cases, NID. If the police are the first-line service, it may also be relevant to confiscate the presumed false document and, if applicable, pursue the matter further in the form of expulsion or rejection or prosecution.
When the case is forwarded to the UDI, the police or foreign service mission must register what investigations have been carried out, and whether the document is suspected of being false, and if so, on what basis. More information about the registrations that must be carried out is available in Chapter 4.
The controls of persons and documents and assessments carried out by the first-line service are important to the other agencies in the immigration administration. They are particularly important to those who are to decide the case after the application has been received, either by the police, the foreign service mission, the UDI or UNE. It must therefore be clear from the registrations made by the first-line service in the case what type of controls have been carried out of the person and the document, and the result of this control. If the person and document have not been checked in cases where it follows from Chapter 3.3.1 and 3.4.1 that such control shall, as a rule, be carried out, it must be clearly stated in the letter that this has not been done, and the reason must also be given. If the applicant has not been required to submit his/her application in person at the foreign service mission, cf. Chapter 3.4.1, this must be clearly stated. It must also be clearly stated in the registration if someone other than seconded personnel or local staff at a foreign service mission has carried out the control. This will be the case if responsibility has been outsourced to external service providers.
Minimum control, cf. Chapters 3.3.1 and 3.4.1
In cases where, in accordance with Chapters 3.3.1 and 3.4.1, a mandatory minimum control has been carried out to check whether an original document is genuine, this must be clearly stated when the case is forwarded to the UDI. If such control uncovered circumstances that have a bearing on the assessment of whether the document is genuine, the circumstances uncovered must be specified, for example:
- the document does not seem to belong to the applicant
- information in the passport has been altered
- the document does not seem to have been issued in accordance with the guidelines for such documents
- other reasons that can indicate that it is false/forged, or that it has been altered.
Extended control, cf. Chapters 3.3.2 and 3.4.2
In cases where, in accordance with Chapters 3.3.2 and 3.4.2, an extended control has been carried out because of risk assessments etc., it must be clear from the forwarding letter to the UDI what investigations have been carried out, for example technical control using a UV lamp and/or a magnifying glass, or whether it has been checked against relevant reference databases. Moreover, the result of the investigation must be stated, including whether the investigations indicate that the document
- is genuine
- is false
- has been altered – for example information or stamps
- has not been issued in accordance with the guidelines for the issuing of such documents.
The registrations concerning controls of persons and documents carried out by the first-line service, shall, at the agency’s own initiative, be presented to the applicant or his/her authorised representative for comment, if the information is of material importance to the outcome of the case, cf. the clarification and information duty in the Public Administration Act section 17. For a more detailed explanation of the duty to provide information pursuant to the Public Administration Act section 17 second and third paragraphs, see the UDI's circular RS 2010-154 section 9.
The immigration administration, for example, has a duty to present to the party concerned the result of any controls that do not confirm the information about identity that is otherwise registered in the case, e.g. because an identity document has been found to be false or forged. It is the first-line case officer who is responsible for deciding whether information from such controls shall be presented to the applicant, and for communicating this information to the applicant or his/her authorised representative. The result of the presentation shall be written down and included in the case documents.
It is the first-line case officer who is responsible for forwarding information that may be of interest to other entities or departments, the National Police Immigration Service, Landinfo, NID and Kripos. This could be reports that a special representative for immigration cases has prepared in connection with document control, or general information that has emerged in connection with individual cases. Examples of information that may be worth forwarding are trends as regards forgeries of one type of document or risk assessments for different countries and document types. Among other things, this type of information can affect the risk assessments that NID is responsible for carrying out. If the case officer is in doubt about whether to forward something, he/she must consult NID or Landinfo.
The UDI's case officer must be critical in his/her attitude to sources of information that can be of importance to the outcome of a case. This also applies to information obtained through the control of persons and documents and other information obtained via the police of foreign service missions. This is especially important when feedback to the UDI from sources abroad has only been passed on by the foreign service mission without it assessing whether the information is valid.
Registrations or remarks in cases where control of persons and documents shall, as a rule, be carried out must state whether the first-line service has carried out such control, and the result of the control, or, alternatively, why such control has not been carried out by the first-line service. When the UDI forwards a case to the police to inform them about a first-time permit upon [a foreign national’s] entry into the realm, it must be clear from the forwarding letter if the applicant has not been required to appear in person at the foreign service mission to submit the application. This is because, in such case, the police should carry out a more thorough check of the applicant's identity documents when he/she turns up to be notified of the decision.
If the UDI has carried out any investigations in addition to the first-line service, this must also be stated in the registrations or remarks in the case. This is information that may be important in relation to subsequent case processing by the police, a possible future appeal or future applications for a permanent residence permit or citizenship. The case officer should consider whether this information should be written in a memo and included in the case documents, so that it becomes available to the police in future cases, such as renewal of the permit and an application for a permanent residence permit. The decision must also state whether such control of persons and documents has been carried out, cf. the ID circular Chapter 4.3.
Head of Department
Contact: Analysis and Development Department