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Refugee Travel Documents and Exclusions to Travel

If you have a refugee travel document, you may be excluded from visiting some countries. What is a refugee travel document, who needs one and how do they work?

There are 2 types of travel documents non-Canadians can use when travelling abroad:

  • refugee travel document

  • certificate of identity

They are issued to

  • Convention refugees

  • protected persons

  • stateless persons

  • permanent residents of Canada in special circumstances

The application form is the same for both types of travel documents but IRCC will decide which one to issue when they receive and assess your application. At that time they will determine:

  • which type of travel document to give you

  • how long it will be valid for

Keep in mind that you have to be in Canada to apply for a travel document.

You may also apply for a travel document for a child (under the age of 16) if you are in Canada. You must be one of the child’s parents with proof of parentage; if separated or divorced, the custodial parent with all the necessary legal documents; the child’s legal guardian with proof of legal guardianship.

Travelling to your country of citizenship

If you have refugee status in Canada, you may not travel to your country of citizenship or country of claim using a Refugee Travel Document. Your country of citizenship or refugee claim will be included in your Refugee Travel Document as a country that is excluded from travel. If you travel to the country that is listed you risk losing your resident status and being unable to return to Canada.

If you are a Refugee and need to Travel Outside of Canada, what documents should you use?

You need to get a Refugee Travel Document which you will obtain from Passport Canada. It is recognized in all countries as a valid travel document. However, as above, you cannot use it to travel to the country that you are a citizen of or the country of claimed persecution. If you are a:

  • Convention refugee, or

  • person in need of protection,

In this case, you will need a Refugee Travel Document.

To apply, you will need to give Passport Canada proof of your status in Canada. You will need either:

  • a letter from the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB);

  • a COPR - confirmation of permanent residence; or

  • a Verification of Status (VOS) document.

If you are a Convention refugee, you should have a letter from the IRB. If you need to replace a lost letter, you should contact the IRB who can facilitate this process.

If you are a protected person who was selected overseas and resettled as a refugee in Canada, you should have either a Confirmation of Permanent Residence document (COPR) or a Permanent Resident Card. If you need to replace an expired, lost or stolen Permanent Resident Card, you can apply for a new one.

In some circumstances, you can apply for an expedited PR card. Otherwise, give yourself plenty of time to ensure your card arrives prior to your planned travel.

You should pair the Refugee travel document with your PR card and should ensure your documents are valid prior to travelling.

If you are a protected person with a positive Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) decision, you should have a verification of status. If your Pre-Removal Risk Assessment result was before December 17, 2012, and you did not get a verification of status, or if you lost it, you can apply for a new one.

For more information about refugee travel documents please contact us at or book an appointment.


About Us

Immigration Station Canada is a dedicated, professional Canadian Immigration firm practicing out of Northumberland County, just east of Toronto, in Canada. We serve clients from Kingston, Belleville, Brighton, Cobourg, Oshawa, the GTA, Guelph, Milton, Stratford and St. Catharines and around the world. Our Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant, Anne C. McCaughey (Annie) is an experienced immigration services provider and a 6th-generation Canadian who values the immigration process and the unique individuals who immigrate to Canada to become part of the fabric of this wonderful country. If you would like to submit a question to Ask Annie, use the link located at the top right of the page.

How Can We Help?

We do work permits, study permits, visitor visas, Express Entry, spousal sponsorship, family class sponsorship, and Canadian citizenship with expertise in Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) applications and Global Talent Stream applications.

Please contact us if you would like assistance with your immigration application or to book an appointment.

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