Source description last updated: 8 December 2020

In brief: The Country of Origin Information Unit “Staatendokumentation” of the Austrian Federal Office for Immigration and Asylum is in charge of collecting and preparing country of origin information.

Coverage on

Query responses, reports, maps

Covered weekly on, for countries of priorities A–E (all available countries).


“The Country of Origin Information Unit (COI) was established with the introduction of the asylum Act 2005 in the former Federal Asylum Office. As of 1 January 2014 the COI unit is part of the Federal Office for Immigration and Asylum.

In particular, the purpose of country records [by the Country of Origin Information Unit] shall be to gather relevant facts for:

  1. assessing whether facts exist which allow for the conclusion that there is a danger of persecution in a certain country as defined in the present federal act;
  2. assessing the credibility of the statements by the asylum seekers and
  3. deciding whether a certain country is safe” (Country of Origin Information Unit website: Homepage, undated)

“In compliance with statutory requirements, the COI department is tasked with collecting relevant facts on Country of Origin for all instances involved with asylum and immigration procedures. This task requires continuous scientific preparation under the guidelines of the Austrian COI-Methodology. Additionally, the tasks of the COI department include, but are not limited to: conducting fact-finding missions; international cooperation; trainings and workshops; support of the advisory council; constant improvement of the database; and maintaining continuous evaluations.” (Country of Origin Information Unit: Folder Staatendokumentation (English), August 2016)


State budget

Scope of reporting:

Geographic focus: all countries of origin of asylum-seekers

Thematic focus: human rights, security, socio-economic and cultural issues, topics deemed relevant to the assessment of the credibility of asylum-seekers


As the Country of Origin Information Unit specifies in its COI Methodology, “[t]here are several criteria that are relevant to ensuring high-quality research (and research results) with respect to the products of the Country of Origin Information Unit. First and foremost, the information must be relevant to the case. Information that is without any relevance to the case should not be included. While we consider each of the other criteria (reliability, currency, objectivity, accuracy, traceability and transparency) to be important as well, these cannot be ranked by priority as their significance and importance depend on the nature of the questions that need to be answered. If a piece of information does not meet all of these criteria, this does not mean that it must be excluded. For example, objectivity is generally considered to be a very important criterion. Meanwhile, in certain cases, subjective or biased information can be included in reports as long as it meets the other criteria. In such a case, however, it is essential to address this limitation. [...]

Whenever possible, information should be corroborated with one or more additional sources. This should be done using different types of sources (e.g. government, media, NGOs). This process is all the more important if a piece of information does not meet all of the above-mentioned criteria. Corroboration may be omitted if the information refers to an undisputed/obvious fact (e.g. Paris is the capital of France; Saddam Hussein was the President of Iraq). [...] If the information gathered on a certain topic is relevant but contradictory, this will be explicitly pointed out in the report. [...] Likewise, if there is a lack of information on a certain topic, this will be explicitly addressed with reference to the search procedure that has been applied (Country of Origin Information Unit: Methodologie der Staatendokumentation, last updated December 2016, pp. 52–53, working translation by ACCORD)

Researchers should “preferably use original/primary sources. [...] The Country of Origin Information Unit’s reports and other COI products usually include full references to sources. However, there may be cases where this is not possible, for instance if a primary source has been contacted directly by the researcher and disclosure of the source may pose a risk to the source (i.e. an informant needs to be protected); or if a source is confidential. In such cases, the source may be anonymised – while for the sake of transparency, efforts will be made to provide as much background information on the source as possible.“ (Country of Origin Information Unit: Methodologie der Staatendokumentation, last updated December 2016, p. 50, working translation by ACCORD)

As for the methodology relating to fact-finding missions (FFMs), the Country of Origin Information Unit’s Guidelines for Fact-Finding Missions state that “questions and topics to be covered during the FFM need to be researched beforehand and specified in the terms of reference. These constitute the framework of the fact-finding mission and form the basis of the list of questions to be asked during interviews. [...]

The process of source selection always includes an assessment as to whether a source might be put in danger by a meeting with the FFM delegation and/or the publication of the information they have provided. In order to carry out this assessment, known local contacts (e.g. embassy workers, NGOs, UN agencies) may be approached and consulted for their point of view. If it is assessed that the source may be exposed to a high risk, the source should not be included – even if it is possibly very relevant to the case – in order to protect it from potentially grave consequences. [...]

Efforts should be made to consult as wide a range of sources as possible. The following should be taken into consideration when selecting sources: For each topic area, several unrelated sources, both government and non-government, should be used. The FFM should consult sources that cannot be satisfactorily consulted as part of desk research in Austria” (Country of Origin Information Unit: Guidelines für Fact Finding Missionen, 22 June 2010, S. 9, working translation by ACCORD). Interviews may be conducted in structured or semi-structured format, depending on the level of specificity of the information required. (Country of Origin Information Unit: Guidelines für Fact Finding Missionen, 22 June 2010, p. 16, working translation by ACCORD)

Further information is available in the Country of Origin Information Unit’s COI Methodology and Guidelines for Fact-Findings Missions:

Languages of publication:

German and English

Further reading / links:

The COI unit of the Austrian Federal Office for Immigration and Asylum publishes selected products in cooperation with A registration is required for access. For details, see

Government of Austria: Verordnung der Bundesministerin für Inneres über den Beirat für die Führung der Staatendokumentation (Staatendokumentationsbeirat-Verordnung), 2005 [in German]

Kurier: "Im Zweifel für den Asylwerber", 20 June 2017 [in German]

Ministry of the Interior (Austria): Response to a parliamentary enquiry by MP Stephanie Krisper regarding the “transparency of Staatendokumentation”, 19 March 2020 [in German]


All links accessed 8 December 2020.