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4 - Legal identity and documentation

GCM Objectives
4 - Legal identity and documentation

Ensure that all migrants have proof of legal identity and adequate documentation

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) sets out 23 objectives. Each objective consists of a commitment, followed by relevant policy instruments and best practices that are intended to support its implementation. This page provides resources for objective 4 (Ensure that all migrants have proof of legal identity and adequate documentation):

“20. We commit to fulfil the right of all individuals to a legal identity by providing all our nationals with proof of nationality and relevant documentation, allowing national and local authorities to ascertain a migrant’s legal identity upon entry, during stay and for return, as well as to ensure effective migration procedures, efficient service provision and improved public safety. We further commit to ensure, through appropriate measures, that migrants are issued adequate documentation and civil registry documents, such as birth, marriage and death certificates, at all stages of migration, as a means to empower migrants to effectively exercise their human rights.


To realize this commitment, we will draw from the following actions:

(a) Improve civil registry systems, with a particular focus on reaching unregistered persons and our nationals residing in other countries, including by providing relevant identity and civil registry documents, strengthening capacities, and investing in information and communications technology solutions, while upholding the right to privacy and protecting personal data;

(b) Harmonize travel documents in line with the specifications of the International Civil Aviation Organization to facilitate interoperable and universal recognition of travel documents, as well as to combat identity fraud and document forgery, including by investing in digitalization, and strengthening mechanisms for biometric data-sharing, while upholding the right to privacy and protecting personal data;

(c) Ensure adequate, timely, reliable and accessible consular documentation to our nationals residing in other countries, including identity and travel documents, making use of information and communications technology, as well as community outreach, particularly in remote areas;

(d) Facilitate access to personal documentation, such as passports and visas, and ensure that relevant regulations and criteria for obtaining such documentation are non-discriminatory, by undertaking a gender-responsive and age-sensitive review in order to prevent increased risk of vulnerabilities throughout the migration cycle;

(e) Strengthen measures to reduce statelessness, including by registering migrants’ births, ensuring that women and men can equally confer their nationality on their children, and providing nationality to children born in another State ’s territory, especially in situations where a child would otherwise be stateless, fully respecting the human right to a nationality and in accordance with national legislation;

(f) Review and revise requirements to prove nationality at service delivery centres to ensure that migrants without proof of nationality or legal identity are not precluded from accessing basic services nor denied their human rights;

(g) Build upon existing practices at the local level that facilitate participation in community life, such as interaction with authorities and access to relevant services, through the issuance of registration cards to all persons living in a municipality, including migrants, that contain basic personal information, while not constituting entitlements to citizenship or residency.”
(GCM ‘Objectives and commitments’, 2018: 11-12)

In many cases, the right to legal identity underpins other GCM objectives such as access to basic services, recognition of skills and qualifications, and ability to contribute to sustainable development. It is an obligation of both sending and receiving states to ensure that individuals can have appropriate documentation that allows for safe mobility and inclusion in societies. Even though the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness was adopted in 1961, stateless populations continue to exist around the world. Therefore, particular focus needs to be paid to the importance of access to civil registry systems, particularly for birth certificates where children may otherwise become stateless.

The Global Compact for Migration (GCM) report is available in AR, ZH, EN, FR, RU, ES.


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