Certificate of identity

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A certificate of identity issued in Germany in 2008
The Red Cross identity certificate Adolf Eichmann used to enter Argentina under the fake name Ricardo Klement in 1950, issued by the Italian delegation of the Red Cross of Geneva

A certificate of identity, sometimes called an alien's passport, is a travel document issued by a country to non-citizens (also called aliens) residing within their borders who are stateless persons or otherwise unable to obtain a passport from their state of nationality (also called refugees). Some states also issue certificates of identity to their own citizens as a form of emergency passport or otherwise in lieu of a passport. The visa requirements of certificates of identity may be different to those of regular passports.

Types of Certificates of Identity[edit]

1951 Convention Documents (for refugees)[edit]

A certificate of identity issued to a refugee is also referred to as a 1951 Convention travel document (also known as a refugee travel document or a Geneva passport), in reference to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. 80 countries are parties to the 1954 Convention and 145 countries are parties to the 1951 Convention. 146 countries are parties to the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. Notably, the United States is not a party to either Convention, but provides travel documents to its lawful permanent residents, either as a Re-entry Permit or a refugee travel document under the Protocol.

1954 Convention Documents (for stateless persons)[edit]

A certificate of identity issued to a stateless person is also referred to as a 1954 Convention travel document, in reference to the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.[1]

Unlike a refugee travel document, a certificates of identity issued by most countries does not in itself entitled the holder to readmission into the country.

Non Convention travel documents[edit]

Non-Convention (or non-National) travel documents are travel documents issued by a country to non-citizen (also called alien) residents who do not have access to passport facilities from their own countries, are not recognized as either Convention refugees, and are not legally stateless under the 1954 Convention relating to the status of stateless persons (or the country they live in has not signed that convention).

In these cases there is no formal international agreement to regulate the issue of travel documents to these people although most countries will issue their own version of a non-convention travel document to residents. These documents broadly meet ICAO standards for international identity documents. They are known variously as Alien's Passports in mainland Europe and Scandinavia and as a certificate of identity in the United Kingdom, Australia and Hong Kong.

National Examples[edit]

Certificates of identity are issued under various names, including:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Blitz, Brad K.; Lynch, Maureen, eds. (June 2009). Statelessness and the Benefits of Citizenship: A Comparative Study. Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and International Observatory on Statelessness. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-9563275-1-2. 

External links[edit]