Refugee Travel Documents

Refugee Travel Documents

Refugee Travel Documents and Certificates of Identity

Refugee Travel Documents and Certificates of Identity:


Here is a brief general overview of the distinction between Refugee Travel Documents and Certificates of Identity. Under the Refugee Convention, all refugees are granted their protections and travel documents. However, stateless persons are granted their Certificates of Identity whenever the country of nationality cannot be obtained under the Convention on Stateless Persons.
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.

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 in which she or he normally resides allowing him or her 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.
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 colors, 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.
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