Travel Documents for Refugees in Greece
What can I do with a travel document?
You can legally travel to other countries. For most European Union countries, you will not need a visa. Some European countries and countries outside of Europe will require a visa from you. Always check before you travel if you need a visa to enter the country you are travelling to.
For how long can I stay outside of Greece?
You can travel for a maximum of three months every half a year to another country of the European Union, such as Germany or the Netherlands for example. That means in the time between the 1st of January and the 30th of June, you can be abroad for a maximum of 3 months. The same applies for the second half of the year. For other countries where you need a visa, the length of your stay depends on the duration of your visa.
Can I live in another country if I travel there?
No, you are not allowed to live in another country other than the country where you have asylum. If you want to work or study in another country, you will need to apply for a work or study permit. This is very difficult and normally requires that you already have a job in that country or a place in a university there.
Can I travel to my home country?
No, you are not allowed to travel to your country of origin. If you do, and the Greek authorities find out, they will revoke your refugee status. This is because as a refugee, you claimed that you are persecuted and unsafe in your country of origin and thus need protection from the Greek state. By travelling back to your home country, you show that you consider it safe for you.
I only have subsidiary protection. Can I apply for a travel document?
If you have subsidiary protection you can travel with the residence permit of the state that granted you asylum and a passport from your country of origin. You can apply for a travel document in Greece only if you can prove that you are unable to get a passport from your country of origin.
Can I travel to another country and apply for asylum there?
Nobody can stop you from travelling to another country with your travel document and applying for asylum there. However, because you already have an asylum status in Greece, your asylum claim will most likely be rejected, and you should be sent back to Greece. You do have the possibility to go to court and appeal against the rejection. Currently, some courts in several European countries have decided not to send refugees back to Greece, due to the challenging living conditions there. But please keep in mind, that there is a chance of losing the appeal and being sent back to Greece. Also going to court and hiring a lawyer costs money, and the whole process, from applying for asylum, getting rejected, appealing and getting a decision in the appeal, can easily take more than a year. Moreover, even in the case you win your appeal, there is a chance that you will not get refugee status again, but just a residence permit on humanitarian grounds. This status has less rights and more restrictions than refugee status.
How long does it take to get a travel document?
This depends from case to case. The Asylum Service claims that, if there are no complications, the whole process will take 2 to 5 months. However, currently it seems like it can take up to 11 months after you have applied to receive your travel document. A lot of people have applied for travel documents at the moment, and the criminal background checks required before receiving it are taking a long time.
Can the procedure to get a travel document be accelerated?
Normally not. Only in very rare cases where you can demonstrably show that there is a serious and urgent humanitarian reason to get a travel document sooner, there might be a chance to speed up the procedure.
Do I need to wait until I have my residence permit before I can apply for a travel document?
No, you don’t need your residence permit to apply. The application for a residence permit will be done automatically when you receive your decision for refugee status. But for a travel document, you have to actively apply. As soon as you have the decision for the residence permit, you can apply for the travel document in the Regional Asylum Office. You will get your decision for your residence permit either on the same day like the decision about your refugee status or some time after. This is different from Asylum Office to Asylum Office. After you apply for the travel document, the police will do national and international security background checks and decide whether you will be allowed to have a travel document.
Can I be refused to get a travel document?
There are some main reasons why you will not be able to get a travel document including being convicted of a crime related to forging documents, the use of a fake passport or a passport that is not yours or if you have been convicted of smuggling or human trafficking. This means, if you tried to illegally leave the country with a fake passport and were caught by the police and convicted by a court, you will by law not be allowed a travel document. The same applies if you were convicted of smuggling other people illegally in to Greece. Importantly, if you entered Greece illegally, this is not a reason to be refused a travel document. Unfortunately at the moment, the background checks to see if you are allowed to get a travel document are taking a long time to be processed.
How can I find out if the decision for my travel document is ready?
If a decision is made, you can find your case number on the web page of the Asylum Service on this list. Therefore, please check this list regularly. It is normally updated every 10-14 days. If your case number is on the list, you can go to the Regional Asylum Office to pick up the decision for your travel document. Before taking the decision to the aliens department of the police to apply for the physical travel document, you will have to pay the fee for your travel document.
How much does the fee for a travel document cost and how can I pay?
It costs 84,40 Euro for persons over 14 years and 73,60 Euro for children under 14 years. In order to pay, you need first a so-called eParavolo (εΠΑΡΑΒΟΛΟ). You can get the eParavolo on the webpage of the Greek tax administration. As the page is only in Greek, you might need someone to help you fill and submit the online application with your personal information. This application must be filled out separately for all the members of your family. If you need help with filling and submitting the application, either contact your lawyer if you have one, or go to a social centre. With the issued eParavolo, you can now either pay the fee at a bank or at ΕΛΤΑ (Greek post office). You need to keep the receipt you will get when you pay the fee, as you will need to show it at the appointment with the aliens department of the police.
How can I make the appointment with the aliens department of the police and what do I need to bring there?
When you pick up your decision for your travel document, the Asylum Service will give you the address and the contact of the aliens department of the police (Διεύθυνση Αλλοδαπών). You can make an appointment by phone. For that most likely you will need somebody who speaks Greek. Also, it can be useful to have someone to translate for you during the appointment. You need to bring with you to the appointment the following documents:
your residence permit + 1 copy of it
decision for your travel document + 1 copy
the issued eParavolo and the receipt that you paid the fee
two biometrical pictures of yourself.
You will get fingerprinted and get a receipt showing that you applied for the actual travel document. Now you will have to wait until your passport is ready for you to pick it up.
I changed my address after applying for a travel document. Can I change the application to an Asylum Office that is near me?
In general this is possible. You need to go to the Asylum Office which is close to your new place and notify them about your change of address. The new Asylum Office then should be responsible for issuing you the decision for the travel document and the residence permit and travel document itself. However, sometimes there is a possibility that the new Asylum Office asks you to go to the Asylum Office where you made the application for the travel document. In case this happens, get either in contact with your lawyer if you have one, or contact us on Facebook.
How can I know if there is any problem with my application?
Sometimes the Asylum Service or the Hellenic Police need additional information or documentation to process an application. In this case, you will receive a phone call and be asked to hand in the required additional information or documents. This is why you should always ensure the Asylum Service and the police have your correct and most updated contact information.
How can I know if my passport is ready?
The Asylum Service publishes a list nearly every week that shows the case numbers for whom their travel document is ready to be picked up. Here is the link to the lists. If your case number is on the list, you can go to the Asylum Office to finally pick up your travel document.
I went to the Asylum Office to pick up the travel document, but they didn’t give it to me. They just gave an appointment some weeks later to finally pick it up.
This unfortunately is happening in some of the Asylum Offices (not in all). Some offices are not directly handing out the decision for the travel document or the travel document itself, but instead are giving another appointment when you can come back and finally pick up the decision or the travel document.
The process for getting a travel document looks really complicated. Where can I get help?
If you have a lawyer, you can always ask your lawyer to support you in this process. Community centres might also be able to help and assist you with this process. In case you cannot find anybody to help and assist you, you can also write a message to the Mobile Info Team on Facebook or contact us on our phone hotline and we will either try to help you or direct you to someone who can.