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Refugee Travel Document - Questions and Answers

rainbowbee

Full Member
Sep 9, 2015
38
42
I created this topic to share my knowledge and experience with all of you. I will try to answer some important questions and concerns regarding travel as a Convention Refugee or a Protected Person living in Canada.

I’m not a lawyer, just a person who likes clarity. I am very proud to call Canada my new home. I want continue traveling and explore the world, but at the same time stay I want to stay mindful, and avoid doing anything wrong that would compromise my PR or Refugee status here. Some terms are below being simplified.

As most of you know, when you make your refugee claim, your passport is being seized by CIC or CBSA.

When my refugee claim was accepted I discovered that there are certain things we are not advised to do:

• Do not travel back to your home country
• Do not renew your home country’s passport.
• Do not travel on your home country’s passport, even to a third country, such as USA for example
• Just simply don’t have any contact with embassy of your home country.

All those things could put you at risk of losing your refugee status, because CBSA may interpret those actions as you no longer fear your home country, so you no longer need Canada’s protection.

I am not able to specify which law applies here and so on, but I know for sure that there are legal cases in which government took action and stripped or tried to strip person’s protection because they did one of above mentioned things.

Also it’s a matter of interpreting the law, so I think we should take those warnings seriously, it’s our lives and protection we are talking about.

If you want to get more information, I would suggest checking out Canadian Council for Refugees and other websites.

After I received a positive decision on my refugee claim, soon I applied for RTD and was able to get it. It says that the RTD validity period is determined by the issuing office. In my case it was issued for 2 years. I personally know at least four other cases, where people applied for RTD before becoming PRs and received it also for 2 years. So I guess it’s safe to assume that majority of people, before PR will get it for 2 years.

When I was applied for it, I noticed that on application form it says: “I understand that if I am issued a Canadian travel document and later obtain a passport issued by my country of citizenship, I am obliged to return the Canadian travel document to Passport Program, Citizenship and Immigration Canada.”

Obviously I started to get worried, because once I become a PR, CIC will return my national passport and in theory I must return RTD. I will have no choice, but to use my national passport to travel, but I don’t want to do that! What should I do?!

After more than two years, I got my PR interview, I got my passport back, at the end of my interview I decided to ask officer in person about my RTD dilemma.
Me: Is that forbidden now to travel using my home country’s passport? I heard that I can lose my PR status if I do.

Officer: No, it’s not forbidden, you can certainly travel on your home country’s passport, it will not impact your PR status, we just not advising it. You should apply for RTD and use that to travel.

Me: Why you are not advising it?

Officer: Because if something happens to you while you are travelling, you will not be able to get a consular assistance from Canada using your national passport.

Me: Okay, I already have a RTD and I want to continue using it, but when I applied for it on application form it says that I must return RTD once I obtain a national passport, which you just returned to me.

Officer: There must have been some kind of mistake on their form, you don’t have to return it, I would suggest you contact “Certificate of Identity Section - Passport Program” department directly and ask.
So I did, I called them and I talked with call center agent at first, and explained my situation:

Agent: Yes, you must return RTD and apply for Certificate of Identity, because you are no longer a refugee, you are a Permanent Resident. I am surprised CIC returned your national passport to you.

Me: I believe it’s normal practice, several people I know also got their national passports back once they became PRs. I politely disagree with you on that one, I am still considered to be a refugee and PR at the same time.
So finally after several minutes of back and forth, agent agreed to put a special call back request directly from “Certificate of Identity Section - Passport Program” located in Gatineau, QC.

Next day I received a call and talked with a senior officer from that department, I explained my situation to him and finally I got the missing peace of a puzzle.
Me: I just became a PR and CIC returned my national passport, on RTD application form it says that I must return it to you once I got my national passport back, but I have concerns regarding travelling on my national passport. Is that even allowed? When I landed, officer told me that it’s not forbidden. I spoke with call center agent before who referred my call to you and he said I need to apply for Certificate of Identity, because I am no longer considered a refugee, I disagree.

Officer: It’s good that you contacted us, not many people are so proactive after they become PRs. Previous agent gave you wrong information, you don’t need to return to us your RTD and and COI is not for you. You were right, once you became a PR, it doesn’t change anything, you still considered to be a Convention Refugee. When you send us application form PPTC 190, you are going to get only one type of a document. Government is not going to decide whether you going to RTD or COI, it has already been decided, based on your status and with your status you are going to get a Refugee Travel Document, whether you are Permanent Resident or not yet. It’s not forbidden to travel on your national passport, but CBSA may strip your refugee status because of that.

Me: That’s what I thought. Thank you for clarifying that information, I am glad I trusted my gut and contacted you.

Officer: What you must do though, is send us your National Passport. You need to send it to us and we will keep it, It’s important to understand that you cannot have two valid Travel Documents in your possession, it’s a security risk and that’s our main concern and that’s why it says that you must return RTD in case you obtain a national passport.

Me: Are you going to return my national passport back to me at some point in the future?

Officer: Yes, in two cases – If it’s expired, or when you become a Canadian Citizen.

Me: That makes sense

Officer: And now that you became a PR, you are eligible to receive a RTD valid for 5 years!

Me: That’s a great news! Thank you! I thought two years was too short in my opinion.

Officer: But you must wait for your PR card in order to apply, just send us explanation letter along with your application, national passport and PR card and you should be able to get a new RTD for 5 years. PR card will be returned to you.

Me: Thank you! I knew something is up, why do you think previous agent gave me wrong information?

Officer: I believe it’s because you talked with Passport Canada call center which handles all calls, but they are not really trained into specifics of RTD and COI. And I am actually officer who is processing these applications.

Me: Thank a lot! You made my day!
Some important points and additional information:

• As a Convention Refugee or a Protected Person in Canada we do have a right to travel.

• In order to be able to travel internationally, we must have a valid Travel Document.

• The only Travel Document we entitled to is a Refugee Travel Document, forget about Certificate of Identity

• In order to apply for RTD you need to use an application form “[PPTC 190] Adult travel document application form”, form is universal and is used to apply for both – RTD and COI.

• After becoming a Permanent Resident, you are still considered to have a refugee status in Canada

• RTD issued for 2 years before PR and after becoming PR for 5 years

• If you got your national passport back when you became PR, do not use it, instead send it to “Certificate of Identity Section - Passport Program” along with your explanation letter

Travel Document - is an identity document issued by a government and allowing us to travel internationally. Generally, Travel Documents look like a passport-like booklets. The most common Travel Document is a Passport.

Government of Canada has a special department responsible for issuing Travel Documents for Refugees and Stateless Persons, and it’s called: “Certificate of Identity Section - Passport Program”, located in Gatineau, QC

That department is issuing two types of a Travel Documents:

1. Refugee Travel Document (light blue) (United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951 and its Protocol of 1967): issued to persons in Canada with protected person status, including Convention refugees and persons in need of protection

2. Certificate of identity (grey or formerly brown): issued to permanent residents of Canada who are not yet Canadian citizens, who are stateless or who are unable to obtain a national passport.

Personally I would advise everyone including myself, travel only using RTD, we shouldn’t put ourselves at risk. Getting RTD for 5 years is a great solution and hopefully by the time we need to renew it, we will have our Canadian Citizenship :)

I will mention it again, I am not a lawyer, just sharing summary of my findings with you. If you have additional questions or information, you are welcome to ask and contribute.
 

CanDude76

Full Member
Feb 2, 2016
21
10
Dear Rainbowbee
On behalf of all refugees, I must say "Thank You very Much" for sharing this detailed information. Really it will help to get the minds clear about traveling as well as the issuance of RTD.
keep posting we need such kind of updates
once again thanks
May Allah bless you.
regards
 

LoveCanada10

Star Member
Jan 3, 2015
150
30
Thanks Ranbowbee. You did a great job providing this very important and accurate information. I'll try to translate it to Arabic so the Arab community can benefit from it too (after your permission).

Now, I'd suggest we use this post to share our travel experience using our Travel Document. I'll be the first to share hoping others jump on board too.

I got mine last year for 2 years too. I am still not a PR. I applied for Schengen Visa and had to travel to Ottawa for the finger print to get my visa. I received the visa by mail in 2 weeks.

I traveled by air to Germany and cleared Schengen Zone with no issue. Then I traveled all around Germany using different transportation methods. I flew to Czech Republic. Rode a bus to Poland. Mini bus to Slovenia. Another bus to Hungary. Slovenia-Hungary border was the only border, they came on the bus and checked passports. Speed train from Hungary to Austria. Train from Austria to Switzerland. Train to the Netherlands. Bus to Belgium. Fly back to Canada. All went very smooth with no issue.

I might be able to try different European countries again this year. However, I am thinking of going without Schengen Visa this time to save $ but don't think the risk/reward worth it specially with all the Migration issues in Europe.

Let's hear from the others.
 

Ottawa-applicant

Hero Member
Apr 16, 2015
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Awesome post +1 for this.

Thank you for sharing this valuable information, many people still not sure whether they can travel or not. And as you mentioned Canada is great country who care about people rights even if they’re Refuges.

Thank you,

Now we need someone to post about the RTD: countries where it doesn’t need visa’s, I have seen this topic floats many times.
 

artin2015

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Oct 4, 2015
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it s good information
I just want to say RTD need visa for Europe and don't do any risk because of some money.
I traveled in 2013 with RTD to Norway, I got visa and I delivered within 10 days. When I want left Canada first Question was ... do you got visa ? Anyway I left Canada without any issue but when i want to back to Canada in Amsterdam they asked me how you entered to Europe? I answered them from Paris.
Officer asked me so why they didn't stamped ?
I answer I have no idea why they didn't. So they hold me for 1 hour to check if it s true or not and they asked for PR card and I answered them I didn't get it yet. after 1 hour they told me u can go now we check it and everything is fine.just they stamped in Netherlands when I back.
 

LoveCanada10

Star Member
Jan 3, 2015
150
30
artin2015 said:
it s good information
I just want to say RTD need visa for Europe and don't do any risk because of some money.
I traveled in 2013 with RTD to Norway, I got visa and I delivered within 10 days. When I want left Canada first Question was ... do you got visa ? Anyway I left Canada without any issue but when i want to back to Canada in Amsterdam they asked me how you entered to Europe? I answered them from Paris.
Officer asked me so why they didn't stamped ?
I answer I have no idea why they didn't. So they hold me for 1 hour to check if it s true or not and they asked for PR card and I answered them I didn't get it yet. after 1 hour they told me u can go now we check it and everything is fine.just they stamped in Netherlands when I back.
Hello, You traveled to Norway with RTD? Norway and Iceland do NOT accept RTD. I'd love to go to these two countries. Can you tell me how you went there? Which country did you get your Schengen visa from and if you told them you are going to visit Norway? This is very important. Thanks
 

LoveCanada10

Star Member
Jan 3, 2015
150
30
Countries in Europe which accept RTD without visa:

1. Germany
2. Hungary
3. Slovenia
4. Slovakia

Countries in Europe which do NOT accept RTD:

1. Norway
2. Iceland
3. Spain
4. Portugal

Actually there is an excel file on EU web site for what countries accept what documents. I can't find it now!!
 

LoveCanada10

Star Member
Jan 3, 2015
150
30
I just found this. I am not sure if this means Finland doesn't need a visa from us too.

http://formin.finland.fi/public/default.aspx?contentid=182867&nodeid=15720&contentlan=2&culture=en-US
 
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LoveCanada10

Star Member
Jan 3, 2015
150
30
Finally found it: Go here http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/index_en.htm and then first under info. Direct URL is: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/document-security/docs/part_i_travel_documents_issued_by_third_countries_and_territorial_entities_en.xlsm

It seems NORWAY accepts our RTD.

Only below do not accept RTD in Schengen Zone:

Spain
Latvia
Iceland
Malta

This is awesome news. I am going to go to Norway this year.

Anyone else active here?
 

artin2015

Hero Member
Oct 4, 2015
342
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LoveCanada10 said:
Hello, You traveled to Norway with RTD? Norway and Iceland do NOT accept RTD. I'd love to go to these two countries. Can you tell me how you went there? Which country did you get your Schengen visa from and if you told them you are going to visit Norway? This is very important. Thanks
i got visa from Denmark embassy just tell them for vista friends and it s easy they give u within 10 days and u pay $80 for visa fee .remember they do the finger print in embassy
 

artin2015

Hero Member
Oct 4, 2015
342
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App. Filed.......
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LoveCanada10 said:
Finally found it: Go here http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/index_en.htm and then first under info. Direct URL is: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/policies/borders-and-visas/document-security/docs/part_i_travel_documents_issued_by_third_countries_and_territorial_entities_en.xlsm

It seems NORWAY accepts our RTD.

Only below do not accept RTD in Schengen Zone:

Spain
Latvia
Iceland
Malta

This is awesome news. I am going to go to Norway this year.

Anyone else active here?
don't be exciting because those 5 country they don't recognize Canadian RTD even they don't give u visa with RTD but others country they recognize Canadian RTD with visa so see the form
 

LoveCanada10

Star Member
Jan 3, 2015
150
30
artin2015 said:
i got visa from Denmark embassy just tell them for vista friends and it s easy they give u within 10 days and u pay $80 for visa fee .remember they do the finger print in embassy
Actually, I have done the finger print so it is in their record. I don't need to pay $80 either as we are exempted from that but just pay the courier company fees. Thanks for the info.
 

LoveCanada10

Star Member
Jan 3, 2015
150
30
artin2015 said:
don't be exciting because those 5 country they don't recognize Canadian RTD even they don't give u visa with RTD but others country they recognize Canadian RTD with visa so see the form
I am super excited as I always wanted to go to Norway but they didn't accept RTD. Now they do, so I'll get the visa and go :) Easy ... Also I will contact Iceland embassy to see if there is any chance they change their rules and accept RTD.
 
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artin2015

Hero Member
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good lock.
Of course it s easy if u get visa. do u know Cuba need visa as well for RTD?
 

rainbowbee

Full Member
Sep 9, 2015
38
42
Guys,

Thanks for your feedback :) I am glad you find this information helpful! All this mystery was driving me crazy, finally I see things clearly.

@LoveCanada10, you can translate it of course, but include a link to original message too.

Norway just started accepted RTD, not long ago it wasn't. :) It's confirmed now on Royal Danish Embassy website as well:

http://canada.um.dk/en/travel-and-residence/visas/general-information/common-passport-issues/

I emailed them and they told me that maybe Iceland is planning to accept the RTD, but as long as the EU excel spreadsheet does not reflect this, they are unfortunately not allowed to issue a visa into RTD.

Also I emailed directly to Iceland Ministry of the Interior about RTD, waiting to get a reply 8)