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New EMN inform examines the adoption and use of digital-only identity documents and residence permits issued to third country nationals

27 March 2024

The latest EMN inform on the "Digitalisation of identity documents and residence permits issued to third-country nationals" provides a comprehensive analysis of the challenges and advantages in adopting digital-only immigration procedures based on contributions from 23 EMN Member States and two Observer Countries, namely Georgia and Ukraine.

The inform offers an in-depth examination of practices, challenges, and advantages across EMN Member and Observer Countries. The inform aims to act as a valuable resource for policymakers, practitioners and stakeholders involved in shaping the future landscape of digitalization of identity documents and residence permits issued to third-country nationals.

Overall, the majority of EMN Member, as well as Georgia and Ukraine, currently do not issue digital-only residence permits and identity documents to third-country nationals. Notably, the only countries, who have started issuing digital-only residence permits and identity documents are Italy, Lithuania, and Poland. 

Several EMN Member and Observer Countries recognise the benefits related to issuing digital-only documents to third-country nationals. Digital documents are considered more secure, while digitalised production and procedures have the potential to save resources, time and finances of national authorities.

As only a few EMN Member Countries issue digital-only residence permits and identity documents, thus the evidence on their use is limited. However, authorities, who are using digital-only documents reported several advantages. This includes following:

  • Digital-only documents are reported to be easier, cheaper and faster to create;
  • Require fewer resources to produce and deliver;
  • Enable capacity savings stemming from digital-only documents and procedures;
  • Heighten security and verifiability;
  • Harder to falsify and less susceptible to fraud than their physical equivalent.

There are some key considerations to be taken into account for using digital-only documents. Some EMN Member and Observer Countries reported following challenges:

  • Social acceptance or hesitancy from the public, stakeholders, and national law enforcement authorities;
  • Operability and reliability of these IT systems;
  • Information-sharing and access to nationally held data to be a key issue when trying to verify digital-only documents.

EMN Coordinator for Slovakia

International Organization for Migration (IOM) – Office in the Slovak Republic

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EMN Coordinator for the EU

European Comission - Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs 

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