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Refugee travel document

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A sample refugee travel document
The bio-data page of an Australian refugee travel document issued to a Chinese refugee
The bio-data page of a New Zealand refugee travel document issued to a Chinese refugee

A refugee travel document (also called a 1951 Convention travel document or Geneva passport) is a travel document issued to a refugee by the state which they normally reside in, allowing them to travel outside that state and to return there. Refugees are unlikely to be able to obtain passports from their state of nationality (from which they have sought asylum) and therefore need travel documents so that they might engage in international travel.

The 145 states which are parties to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees are obliged to issue travel documents to refugees lawfully resident in their territory.[1]

Refugee travel documents are passport-like booklets. Their cover bears the words "Travel Document" in English and French (and often in the language of the issuing state), as well as the date of the convention: 28 July 1951. The documents were originally grey, though some countries now issue them in other colours, with two diagonal lines in the upper left corner of the front cover. Bearers enjoy certain visa-free travel privileges extended by signatories to the convention.

However, as a refugee travel document is not a regular national passport, some problems may be encountered by the holder from time to time, for example due to non-familiarity of airline staff with such documents.[2][3][4]

Travel documents issued to refugees


Limitations of a refugee travel document compared to a passport

  • Refugee travel documents issued by the Government of Canada cannot be used for travel to the bearer’s country of citizenship,[7] and a refugee travel document issued by another country is not treated as a valid passport for the purposes of obtaining an Electronic Travel Authorization to visit Canada. Given that bearers of refugee travel documents are not citizens of the issuing country they may need to apply for a visa before travelling to Canada.[8]
  • Egyptian travel documents issued for Palestinian refugees are considered unacceptable travel documents for travel and entry to New Zealand, unless they include an entry visa allowing the holder to enter Egypt.[9]

See also


National non-citizen travel documents



  1. ^ Under Article 28 of the Convention.
  2. ^ Questions over refugee holiday process after Syrian family blocked after leaving Australia
  3. ^ Thailand Should Return Football Player Refugee To Australia, Not Bahrain
  4. ^ Ryanair apologizes for preventing refugee from boarding flight
  5. ^ Travel Documents, USCIS
  6. ^ Convention Travel Documents (CTD) Archived 2013-03-04 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Types of passports and travel documents". Government of Canada. 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  8. ^ "Apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)". Government of Canada. 2015-11-18. Retrieved 2015-12-09.
  9. ^ "A2.15 Unacceptable travel documents". immigration.govt.nz. Immigration New Zealand. April 8, 2013.
  10. ^ Certificate of Identity(COI) Archived 2013-03-04 at the Wayback Machine