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About UsHistory and Background

Ministry of Interior


One of the newest Immigration Services in the world, the Migration Service of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (Serviço de Migração) was established in its current form in early 2003 as a Department of the Timor-Leste National Police (PNTL). In August 2008, it assumed its current name and became a separate Service in its own right within the Ministry of Defense and Security with the promulgation of the Ministry’s organic structure decree law 31/2008 and in 2009 the promulgation of Migration Service Organic law nr 30/2009.

Currently the Migration Service is integrated into the Ministry of the Interior under the terms of Decree Law nr. 14/2019 of 10th July, which establishes the structure of the Ministry of the Interior.

The Migration Service has over one hundred and sixty four (164) staffs, and is responsible for civilian immigration control functions at all land border crossing points, airports and ports. The Service decides visas that may be granted on arrival at a border crossing, and at the Embassies/Consulates and processes applications for further visas that may be granted to people after arrival in Timor Leste.

The Service is also responsible for administering other functions of the Migration and Asylum Law nr. 11/2017, including registration of foreigners and legislated enforcement powers according to its.

Organizational Chart Of Immigration Service

Organizational Chart


UNTAET Regulation No. 2000/9 established the first border regime for Timor-Leste post-1999. The resultant Service administered both Customs and Immigration.

A subsequent review of this function resulted in a decision of Government to separate the Customs and Immigration functions. The result Decree Law (4/2002) published on 12 November 2002 transferred Immigration control inside the country, as well as the control of the movement of persons across the borders, to the PNTL. A Department of Immigration was created within the PNTL as a result.

immigration service team

The transfer of responsibility for Immigration functions to the PNTL was performed in 3 phases:

  1. 13/01/2003 (Dili International Airport )
  2. 21/01/2003 (Visas, Dili Seaport and Baucau Airport )
  3. 01/03/2003 (Land borders)

Between 13/01/2003 and 15/10/2003 immigration function was subject to a combination of 2 pieces of legislation (UNTAET Regulation 2000/9 and Decree Law 4/2002), until the promulgation of relevant statutes of the PNTL, and the Immigration and Asylum Law of 2003.

In 2009, two legal instruments were promulgated, namely Decree Law 30/2009 and Decree Law 31/2009, regarding the Organic Law of the Migration Service and the Staff’s statute Regulations. The Migration Service then became a General Directorate under the Ministry of the Interior having a staff with its own characteristics and competencies.

On 19th of May 2017, a new Migration and Asylum Law 11/2017, has been promulgated by the President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.


To build a security service close to the citizens, active and effective in the management and control of migratory flows and in the construction of the extended space of freedom, security and justice to secure our borders and to safe Timor-Leste.


Our values:

  • Integrity, Commitment and Accountability
  • Proximity to foreign citizens
  • Modernization and effectiveness
  • Safeguarding public interest


We secure our borders and uphold our laws on immigration.

The Migration Service of Timor-Leste (SM) is a security service integrated into the Ministry of Interior (MI) which, within the framework of the internal security law nr 2/2010, has the mission, of ensuring the control of people at borders, of foreigners in national territory, preventing and combating crime related to illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings, issuing visas, resident permits, emergency travel documents and identifying foreigners and proceeding with the investigation of asylum applications, in order to safeguard internal security and individual rights and freedoms in the global context of the migratory reality.

As a criminal police body, Migration Service acts in the process, under the terms of criminal procedural law, under the direction and in functional dependence of the competent judicial authority, carrying out the determined actions and acts delegated by the competent authority.

Migration Service is responsible for promoting, coordinating and executing measures and actions related to these activities and migratory movements and, at the international level, to ensure, by determination of the Government, the representation of Timor-Leste in the CPLP, ASEAN working groups, as well as in international organizations or events related to its area of expertise.

Attributions and competences

The Migration Service (SM) of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste was assigned the following immigration goals, under the Article 2 number 1 and 2 of the Decree-Law 30/2019, of Migration Service Organic Law.) :

Assignments and Competences of SM at national level:

  1. Survelillance and inspection of the border crossing posts, including the international area of ports and airports, a movement of can prevent passengers from disembarking and crew of vessels and aircraft, documents or risky ports or airports are proven without prior consent from the competent health authorities;
  2. Making definite decisions on arrival or departure of passengers, preventing the entry or exit of the national territory of people who do not meet the legal requirements for the It is made;
  3. Give clearence to and check the entry of persons on the vessels and aircraft;
  4. Control and supervise the permanence and activities of foreigners throughout the national territory, ensuring realization of furniture and joint operations with other services or security forces;
  5. Proceed with the investigation of the crimes provided for in the Immigration and Asylum, namely aid to illegal immigration, trafficking in persons, and other related crimes, without prejudice to the competence of other entities;
  6. Ensure compliance with the provisions of the law, relating to the entry, exit, stay and removal of foreigners.
  7. Issue opinions on consular visa applications and requests for acquisition of nationality;
  8. Grant visas, extensions of stay, residence, asylum, family reunification, employment status equality and requests for emergency travel documents; under the law;
  9. Collaborate with the competent entities in the inspection of the compliance with the law regulating the work of foreigners;
  10. Introduce and instruct expulsion proceedings for foreigners without the right to remain in national territory, and enforcement of judicial expulsion decisions, making whenever necessary escorts of foreign citizens subject to expulsion measures;
  11. Ensure the management and communication of data related to the Border Management System (BMS), including information on movements, visa applications and their results, as well as on the activities of foreigners in the country.
  12. Coordinate cooperation between security forces and national services and other countries' security policies movement of persons, asylum, control of foreigners and investigation of crimes of aid to illegal immigration, trafficking of people and others related to them.
  13. Develop research and advise the Government on the economic and social impact of migration policies.
  14. Authenticate the identity of people entering the territory national level and maintain a register of foreigners identity
  15. Prevent and combat violations of the Immigration and Asylum Law, namely by detecting and reducing irregular migration, aid for illegal immigration, human trafficking.

Assignments and Competences of SM at international level:

  1. Participate, as determined by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, in the representation of the Timorese State in International level with regard to migration, borders and asylum, as well as participating in working groups dealing with matters related to the attributions of the SM;
  2. Ensure, through liaison officers, the commitments undertaken in the context of cooperation international as required by law;
  3. Collaborate with similar foreign services.
  4. Provide visa services through migration attachés with the Embassies and Consulates of Timor-Leste.
  5. Pursue the other attributions established in the Law.