Ministerial Decision 1139/2019 that regulated the procedures to issue travel documents for beneficiaries of international protection was abolished and replaced by Joint Ministerial Decision 10302/2020 which came into force on 30 May 2020.
Recognised refugees, upon a request submitted to the competent authority, are entitled to a travel document (titre de voyage), regardless of the country in which they have been recognised as refugees in accordance with the model set out in Annex to the 1951 Refugee Convention. This travel document allows beneficiaries of refugee status to travel abroad, except their origin country, unless compelling reasons of national security or public order exist. The abovementioned travel document is issued from the Passport Directorate of the Hellenic Police Headquarters, subject to a fee of approximately 84 € for the adults and 73 € for the minors. These travel documents are valid for 5 years for adults and 3 years for minors and can be renewed.
The same applies to beneficiaries of subsidiary protection or family members of beneficiaries of international protection, if they are unable to obtain a national passport, unless compelling reasons of national security or public order exist. In practice, beneficiaries of subsidiary protection must present to the Greek authorities verification from the diplomatic authorities of their country of origin, certifying their inability to obtain a national passport. This prerequisite is extremely onerous, as beneficiaries of subsidiary protection may also fear persecution or ill-treatment from their country of origin. Furthermore, the issuance of this verification lies upon the discretion of the diplomatic authorities of their country of origin and depends on the policy of each country. The travel documents issued for beneficiaries of subsidiary protection are valid for 3 years and can be renewed.
JMD 10302/2020 provides that the Alien’s Directorates is the only competent authority for the issuance of travel documents. In practice, after their recognition beneficiaries of international protection must scan all the required documents (including the electronic administrative fee) and send them by email to the competent Alien’s Directorate in order to book an appointment for the submission of their applications in person. After the travel document is issued, they must regularly check the website of the Asylum Service for their scheduled deliverance appointment. If they miss that appointment they must book another one through the electronic platform of the Ministry of Migration; that appointment may be scheduled months after the missed one.
According to both Ministerial Decisions, travel documents should not be issued to refugees convicted for falsification and use of false travel documents. Travel documents cannot be issued for five years following the conviction, or for ten years in case of a felony.
The same Ministerial Decision regulates the issuance of travel documents for minors accompanied by one of their parents who exercises on his/her own the parental care of the child, but does not possess documents establishing the parental care of the child. More precisely travel documents for the minor can be issued upon submission of a declaration on oath before the District Court or a Notary when the following conditions are met:
- the minor is granted refugee status and is present in Greece with one of his/her parent;
- this parent is also exercising the parental care due to facts or legal acts previously registered in the country of origin, and
- this parent does not possess documents proving that he/she is exclusively exercising the parental care.
This long-awaited Ministerial Decision 1139/2019 simplified the procedure for the issuance of travel documents for minors of single-headed families. The Joint Ministerial Decision 10302/2020 has exactly the same provision on this matter. However, this provision does not apply to cases where the parent is exercising the sole parental custody due to facts or legal acts registered in a country other than the country of their origin. In this case, if no supporting documents can be provided, travel documents for the minor can be requested by the single parent under the condition that the parental care/responsibility has been assigned to him/her on the basis of a decision of a Greek court.
The waiting period for the issuance of travel documents can prove lengthy and may exceed 1 year in some cases, as far as GCR is aware. Measures against COVID-19 seem to have slowed down the issuance and particularly the deliverance of travel documents.
In May 2019, the Asylum Service started the process of electronic renewal of travel documents. The application for renewal of travel documents is submitted via e-mail and further supporting documents must be sent to the Asylum Service via post. The application is completed with the receipt of the required supporting documents from the applicants. Therefore, the time for processing the application by the Asylum Service depends on the time of sending and receiving all required supporting documents. From the time of receipt of these documents, the average time for the issuance of a travel document renewal decision is one and a half (1.5) months.
There is no available data concerning the applications submitted for the renewal of Travel Documents and the positive decisions taken by the Asylum Service during 2021.
 Ministerial Decision 1139/2019, Gov. Gazette 4736/Β/20.12.2019, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/3dDfiYI
 Joint Ministerial Decision 10302/2020, Gov. Gazette 2036/Β/30-5-2020, available in Greek at: https://bit.ly/2P71hc8.
 Article 25(1) IPA
 Article 25(2) IPA
 Article 7(1) MD 1139/2019 (in force until 29/05/2020) and Article 6(1) JMD 10302/2020 (in force since 30/05/2020).
 Article 25(4) IPA.
 Article 7(2) MD 1139/2019 and Article 6(2) JMD 10302/2020.
 Article 3 JMD 10302.
 Ministry of Migration and Asylum, Information on travel documents at: https://bit.ly/2Pd4kQe.
 Article 1(2) MD 1139/2019 and Article 1(2) JMD 10302/2020.
 Articles 1(6) and 1(7) JMD 1032/2020.
 Ministry of Migration and Asylum, Information on travel documents at: https://bit.ly/2Pd4kQe