Travelling through the Schengen area with a Refugee Travel Document issued by the USA
I just want to double check to make sure I won't run into any issues at the border of entry.
I'm a permanent resident of the USA with a green card and I have a travel document issued by the USA (I-571). Will I have any issues traveling around in the Schegen countries?
Do I need a visa? Do I have to pay any fees?
Yes, you do need to get a Schengen visa - preferably from the first Schengen country you intend to enter. Note that the requirement for a visa is based on your citizenship, ***not*** on your country of residence.
@MichaelHampton It's Monday :) Worth noting though that having I-571 doesn't preclude you from having a passport from another country. Almost 25 years ago I had one of these from the USA while still holding a passport from my original country. That passport expired a few years later and I never bothered to renew it.
@AleksG as I understand it a refugee is not usually stateless; stateless people are a separate category. Being a refugee from some country and unable to get a passport from that country does not necessarily imply that you are no longer a citizen of that country.
You are a stateless person or a refugee with a Refugee Travel Document I-571 issued by the United States and wish to know if you must obtain a visa to travel in the Schengen area on your Refugee Travel Document.
Generally this varies both by the country you wish to travel to, and the country that issued the refugee travel document.
- Germany does not require US refugee travel document holders to have a visa. They also state that since this rule is little-known, you should bring a copy of it to show both your airline and to German immigration officials. But this is listed in Timatic, so the airline should be aware of it.
- Italy appears to have no exceptions and requires all persons traveling on refugee travel documents to apply for a visa. (Italy is also having a major issue with refugees right now and there have been some political noises about cracking down on them.)
- For Poland, you cannot use a refugee travel document to enter visa-free unless you are a resident of Ireland or Romania.
According to this official document (Microsoft Excel required), among Schengen countries, US refugee travel documents are accepted for visa-free short term travel to Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy1, Slovakia and Slovenia. (Netherlands is missing from the spreadsheet entirely due to an apparent clerical error. Its visa exemption is apparently still active and listed in Timatic.)
However, if you enter Schengen via Germany and happen to take a short side trip to Italy this might not be a practical problem, provided you don't cross a passport control. While there are mostly no border controls within the Schengen area, there may be occasional random checks especially on public transport, and border guards in countries other than Germany may be unfamiliar with the situation. This case is so unusual that it's not really clear what would happen, though I would guess they would see that Germany admitted you and send you on your way. However, it is possible that you could be detained and removed from such a country as Italy. Note that there are still land border controls around Switzerland, primarily for customs purposes (while Switzerland is part of Schengen it is not part of the EEA).
And while you didn't ask, I expect someone will: The UK is not part of Schengen, and its rules are: The UK requires visas of refugee travel document holders, except those issued by the UK, and so you will need a visa to visit the UK.
1 Italy accepts the US refugee travel document, but whether a visa is required depends on the nationality shown in the document.
So my ultimate goal was to fly into Spain and travel through-out the Schegen Countries (France,Switzerland,Hungry,Slovakia,Czech Republic,Poland,Lituania,Latvia and Estonia) by train from country to country, with a Green Card and U.S. Travel Document ( I don't have any other passport)....It seems like I will have some issues in certain countries does anyone here know what countries I will not have issues with...
@VeoKhenthavong In practice this will come down to which Schengen country you enter first, and Spain requires all refugee travel document holders to have visas.
Netherlands also allow visa free for travellers with USA travel document, some many of my friends has flow to holland with there USA travel document without a visa.
@MichaelHampton That seems to be a Belgian website, why would that discuss Dutch rules?
@Gagravarr That particular site provides a summary of rules for all of the Schengen countries. The English language versions of .nl government sites are terrible. Nevertheless I also found the same info in Timatic, so I'm reasonably sure that it's true.
Belgium too does not require a visa for refugee travel document holders.
Do you have any evidence to back up this claim? "Some anonymous person on the internet said it was true" doesn't carry a lot of weight.
So far these are the countries that wont require I-571 holder to apply for visa:
- Germany(i confirmed)
- Belgium (i confirmed)
- Netherlands (i confirmed)
The page you linked states that Finland requires a visa for refugee travel document holders.