Travel documents


Country Report: Travel documents Last updated: 03/06/21


Travel documents for beneficiaries of international protection are governed by Article 24 of the Qualification Decree.

For refugees, the provision refers to the 1951 Refugee Convention and states that travel documents (documenti di viaggio) issued for refugees are valid for 5 years, renewable. They could be refused for serious reasons related to public order and national security. These are usually automatically given to refugees.

Beneficiaries of subsidiary protection can get a “travel permit” (titolo di viaggio), as opposed to a travel document (document di viaggio), explaining in a note to the Questura the reasons why they cannot ask or obtain a passport from their country’s embassy. They can get a travel document if they have no representative authorities of their country in Italy.

Therefore, they can invoke reasons linked to their status and to their asylum stories. However, the Council of State has clarified in a case on travel permits for beneficiaries of humanitarian protection that the reasons to be adduced are not implicit in the reasons why the protection has been recognised and that it is not enough to generally declare that, because of the problems faced in the country of origin, it is impossible to contact the diplomatic authorities of that country in Italy.[1]

Beneficiaries can also invoke reasons linked to the procedures applied by their embassies or to the lack of documentation requested, such as original identity cards or birth certificates. The Questura verifies whether the person in fact is not in possession of these documents, looking at the documents he or she provided during the asylum procedure. In some cases, immigration offices contact the embassies asking confirmation of the reported procedure.

The applicant assumes responsibility, under criminal law, for his or her statements. Evidence, such as a written note from the embassy refusing a passport, is not required but helpful if provided.

The Questura can reject the application if the reasons adduced are deemed unfounded or not confirmed by embassies (only in case of subsidiary protection). According to the law, rejection can also be decided in case of doubts on the person’s identity, but administrative case law has affirmed that it is contradictory to deny, on this basis, the travel document to someone who has obtained a residence permit on international protection grounds.[2]

On 10 October 2019 the Administrative Court of Sardinia accepted an appeal lodged against the refusal of the Questura of Cagliari to issue a travel document to a Malian citizen, subsidiary protected, whose embassy had refused to issue a passport due to the lack of some documents. The Court considered the doubts of the Questura regarding the applicant’s identity unfounded as he had corrected his personal data during the hearing before the competent Territorial Commission.[3]

The same Court issued a similar decision on 26 February 2020, again ordering to the Questura of Cagliari to issue a travel document to a subsidiary protected who could not get a passport from his embassy.[4]

In case of rejection, the beneficiary concerned can appeal to the Administrative Court.

However, on 23 February 2020, the Civil Court of Florence recognized its jurisdiction over an appeal filed against the delay in issuing a travel document to a refugee. The Court ordered the Questura of Florence to release the travel document requested by the applicant two years earlier, considering the right to obtain the travel document an individual right of international protected, not a mere legitimate interest. Therefore, the Court found the case correctly attributed to the jurisdiction of an ordinary court, meaning “natural judge” of individual rights.[5]

Acting against the widespread practice of some Questure not to respond to applications for travel documents submitted by holders of subsidiary protection, an ASGI lawyer has lodged an appeal against the administrative silence of the Questura of Turin, Piedmont. The case concerned a Senegalese holder of humanitarian protection but the rules applied and referred to by the Administrative Court of Piedmont which upheld the appeal are the same as for subsidiary protection holders.[6] The Court accepted the appeal and ordered the Questura to adopt a reasoned decision on the request within 30 days.[7]

Italian law does not prohibit beneficiaries of subsidiary protection from using the Italian travel permit to go back to their country of origin. However, after the 2018 reform each return to the country of origin can cause the starting of a cessation procedure (See cessation).


[1] Council of State, Section III, Decision No 451, 4 February 2016, available at:

[2] Administrative Court of Lazio, Decision 11465/2015, 30 September 2015, available at:

[3] Administrative Court of Sardinia, interim decision 260/2019, 10 October 2019.

[4] Administrative Court of Sardinia, interim decision 44/2020, 26 February 2020.

[5] Civil Court of Florence, decision of 23 February 2020.

[6]  Article 24(2) Qualification Decree.

[7]  Administrative Court of Piedmont, Decision 34/2018, 8 January 2018.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation