*The following process also applies to Ukrainian nationals that have been rejected and haven’t obtained the Temporary Protection status.
You can use this article to find basic info on the rights you'll get with a Travel Document, including:
- Where can you travel
- Applying for a Travel Document and delays
- Working or studying outside Greece
- Lost documents
- Travel Documents for minors
Where can I travel with my asylum seeker status?
Which countries can I visit with the Greek Travel Document without a visa? Which countries ask for a visa?
According to police, if you hold a Greek Travel Document, you don't need a visa to go to EU countries that have signed the Schengen Treaty. Here's a sample list of some countries you can visit without a visa:
However, in practice, you may find some conflicting information:
- Some countries, although visa-free, may not allow you to enter if your Travel Document expires in less than six months. If you want to travel, you need to apply to renew your Travel Document at least six months before it expires.
- Other countries, European and Schengen countries included, have specific regulations regarding the visa requirements for Refugee Travel Document holders.
- Ireland and Serbia, for example, require visas for refugees with Travel Documents.
- The Italian Embassy will decide whether you need a visa based on your nationality. You can check an online questionnaire before making a personal appointment at the embassy.
- As these requirements regularly change, you must contact the country's embassy before making travel arrangements.
- Most countries' embassies in Greece do not reply to visa requests over the phone. You need to go there in person or make a personal appointment during specific visiting hours.
Can I travel to non-EU countries without a visa? What about Arabic-speaking countries where I have a family?
Most non-EU countries, including Arabic-speaking countries, require visas for travellers with a Greek Travel Document. You have to consult the embassy or the consulate of the country you wish to visit to ask about visa requirements and procedures. Most countries have different regulations and processes, depending on your nationality.
I want to travel to the UK. Can I go without a visa?
The UK long ago issued a regulation that requires a visa from all refugees with a Travel Document. You can see more information on the UK Government website here.
However, our research found conflicting information among the most competent Greek authorities regarding this. We contacted the Airport Passport Control Police Authority several times over the last few months, and confirmed that they are not aware of this UK regulation. They consider the UK to be among similar to EU countries that are visa-free.
This means they will allow refugees with a Greek Travel Document and without a visa to fly out of Greek airports to the UK. Be careful — you will be sent back once you reach a UK airport without a visa.
Please note that the British Embassy in Greece does not deal with visa enquiries. All applications for a visa to the UK need to be made online, through the Visa4UK website.
Find more information about applying for a Visa to the UK here. Alternatively, you can call this UK phone number: 0044 3001232241 (press option 4 and then option 4 again)
What documents do I need to have with me while traveling?
How long can I stay outside of Greece?
If you travel without visa within the Schengen area, you can stay outside Greece for up to 3 months, and then you must return to Greece for at least 6 months.
I have a Greek Travel Document. Can I visit my home country?
If you have refugee status in Greece, you cannot visit your country of origin, and stateless refugees cannot visit their country of former habitual residence. Even if there is no explicit prohibition or geographical restriction written on your Travel Document, visiting your country of origin could jeopardize your refugee status.
If you are a subsidiary protection holder (without a national passport), you are also restricted from travelling to your home country,. Again the restriction is not one of explicit prohibition that one that might result in a change of status. You can contact a lawyer if you're uncertain about your specific case.
I was granted subsidiary protection and was allowed to keep my national passport. Can I visit my country of origin?
You were granted subsidiary protection because authorities determined that it is unsafe for you to return to your country of origin. If you travel back to your country of origin, Greek Asylum authorities might consider this proof that the danger of serious harm no longer exists.
Greek authorities can track your recent travel history and data through online databases.
As a Syrian, I am allowed to go to Turkey without a visa. As a Greek Travel Document holder, will I be treated the same?
You will be treated as a holder of a Greek Travel Document and will not be allowed to use your national passport for as long as you hold refugee or subsidiary protection status. People who live in Greece and have a non-Greek passport will have to ask for a visa. You can use your national passport if you are a beneficiary of subsidiary protection.
Why isn't it possible to use my refugee Residence Permit to travel in the Schengen countries?
If you are a recognized refugee, your ID card is the Residence Permit. It shows that you are staying legally in Greece, but it does not give you the right to travel. You need to either have a valid passport or a Travel Document to be able to travel.
If I get my Travel Document and travel to Germany, will I go through a police investigation at the airport?
It is highly possible that German airport police will run security checks when you arrive and they might record the date you entered the country.
Why do you need to return to Greece every three months when you travel with a Greek Travel Document?
This is an obligation established for visa-free travel within the Schengen Area. Even holders of a Greek national passport must register their residence in an EU country if they stay longer than three months in countries where visa-free travel is allowed.
Applying for a Travel Document and delays
How can I apply for a Travel Document?
You can learn about how to apply for a Travel Document and how much it costs on our website here.
I am in Athens, but I've applied for a Travel Document in Samos. It's now ready, but I can't travel to Samos. Is there a way to receive it in Athens?
According to a more recent Circulation of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum issued on the 10th of July 2020, you must declare from which Asylum Office you wish to receive your Travel Document. According to a Decision of the Asylum Service, only three Regional Asylum Offices will be responsible for delivering the Travel Documents (Athens, Thessaloniki and Crete). However, before going to a Regional Asylum Offices, check with the Asylum Office or at the Asylum Service's site to make sure which office is competent for your case.
To receive your Travel Document you have to go in person to the competent Asylum Office on the day of your appointment. You can find the day of your appointment by following up with the regular announcements uploaded every Friday on the Ministry of Migration and Asylum website. In some special cases, a representative who holds a Power of Attorney could pick it up for you. Send us a message on Facebook for more information, or contact the competent Regional Asylum Office.
Why is it taking so long to get a Travel Document, and how can I check the reasons for the delay?
The application process for a Travel Document requires a thorough national and international criminal background check, which can cause delays. An international criminal record check is a complex procedure and may take up to three months or more. A national screening could also take several months.
I need to travel for health reasons, and my Travel Document is still not ready. Can I ask for a faster procedure?
Unfortunately, having a health problem is often not a valid reason to accelerate the process except for special cases, such as surgery abroad. In these special cases, you need to go through a medical assessment at a public hospital that confirms you can only receive medical treatment abroad. The Police Passport Department, where you submitted your application for a Travel Document, can decide whether to accelerate the procedure.
I got my Travel Document and want to get my national passport back from the Greek Asylum Service. Is this possible?
If you have been issued a Greek Travel Document, you cannot use your national passport for as long as you hold refugee or subsidiary protection status.
Please note that if you still hold a passport from your country of origin, the Greek Asylum Service requires you to hand it into them. You may jeopardize your status if you have been granted refugee status or subsidiary protection and use your national passport while holding a Greek Travel Document.
Working or studying outside of Greece
Am I allowed to work in other European countries if I have a Greek Travel Document?
The Travel Document gives you the right to travel; it doesn't give you the right to live permanently or work in the country you visit.
To work in any country, you need a work permit, and each country has different laws and procedures on getting a work permit.
If you have a job offer in another European country, your future employer should help you apply for a work permit and a residence permit there for as long as you work for them.
Does a Greek Travel Document allow me to study in another European country, Canada or the United States?
In any country, you first need to get accepted to a university. Then, the university that has accepted you can help you apply for a student residence permit. Some EU countries require that you provide:
- Proof of university registration
- Proof that you can cover your financial needs
- Health insurance
- Social insurance
I lost my Travel Document. What do I need to do?
You need to report it immediately to the Greek Asylum Service and the closest Passport Police Department.
Read the police passport issuance instructions and find out more about lost documents on our website.
Travel Documents for minors
Can children under 18 apply for a Travel Document? If they get it, can they travel alone?
Children under 18 who have been granted refugee status or subsidiary protection can issue a Travel Document with full consent of both parents.
Children cannot travel alone. They need to be accompanied by their legal guardian.
They can only travel alone with permission from parents or legal guardians and with special arrangements that need to be made with the travel agency and the airline company.
Could an unaccompanied minor apply for a Greek Travel Document?
An unaccompanied child cannot apply for a Travel Document alone. The child's temporary guardian (the public prosecutor or the person appointed by the public prosecutor as temporary guardian) has to agree to issue a Travel Document for an unaccompanied minor.
Unaccompanied minors do not easily get Travel Documents since the public prosecutor is unlikely to give consent except for very special reasons.
Children accompanied by one of the parents, can they issue a Greek Travel Document?
In the case of children granted refugee status, who are in Greece accompanied by one of their parents. This parent practises the custody because of legal or objective reasons registered by the authorities of their country of origin, e.g. death of the other parent, divorce where the parent accompanying the child has full custody or the other parent is missing, the parent has to present documents from his/her country to prove that he/she has full custody. If the parent cannot provide Asylum Service with this kind of document, he/she has to provide a declaration on oath from a public notary or the competent judge (Eirinodikis).
In case of children granted refugee status, who are in Greece accompanied by one of their parents, and this parent practises the custody because of legal or objective reasons registered by the authorities of a third country other than their country of origin, and he/she has the possibility to address these authorities and issue the relevant certificates, the parent has to present the required documents issued by this country legally certified to prove that he/she has full custody or have a relevant decision from a Greek court.
In the case of children granted subsidiary protection, who are in Greece accompanied by one of their parents, and this parent practises the custody because of legal or objective reasons registered by the authorities of their country of origin or a third country other than their country of origin, the parent has to present the required documents issued by his/her country of origin or the third country legally certified to prove that he/she has full custody or have a decision from the Greek Court.
In any case, it would be better to consult with a lawyer before following any procedure.
My child didn't give fingerprints because he was under 6 years old. But now he is six. What should I do?
If your child was under 6 years old at the time of the application, it will give its fingerprints the next time it renews its Travel Document. (Over 6 years old, they can give fingerprints; over 15 years old, they can apply by themselves. )