A valid passport is usually required for international travel and serves as an important form of official identification that is recognised around the world. However, some people cannot obtain a passport whilst they are living in the United Kingdom for a variety of reasons, such as refugees and stateless people. These individuals may be eligible to apply for a Home Office Travel Document, allowing them to travel outside the UK.

In this guide, we explain what the UK travel document is, who is eligible, and how to apply. We’ll also answer some frequently asked questions from Home Office rravel document applicants.

 

What is a UK travel document?

A UK Travel Document, also known as a Home Office Travel Document, is an alternative form of identification that provides the ability to cross international borders for travel. Whilst it looks like a UK passport, it does not confer the same rights granted to British nationals. Rather, a UK Home Office Travel Document provides a mechanism to permit travel and serves as identification. Holders of UK Home Office Travel Documents must note that they cannot access visa-free international travel in the same way as British citizens and will be subject to the visa arrangements outlined for nationals of their country of origin.

 

Why is a UK travel document important?

UK Home Office Travel Documents are important as they provide the ability to travel to individuals currently in the United Kingdom who may otherwise incur difficulties obtaining a national passport. For some people, obtaining a national passport can be impossible due to factors such as war, civil unrest, or persecution in their country of nationality. Obtaining a UK Home Office Travel Document also provides a widely recognised form of identification that will be accepted within the United Kingdom for future immigration applications and in daily life.

 

Who needs a UK travel document?

You will need a UK Home Office Travel Document if you want to have a form of UK identification and seek to travel internationally. You can only apply for a UK Home Office Travel Document from within the United Kingdom. You cannot be a British citizen and you must not be able to obtain a passport from your country of nationality. One of the following must also be true:

  • You have Leave to Remain or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the United Kingdom as a refugee
  • You have Leave to Remain or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the United Kingdom as a stateless person
  • You have Leave to Remain or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the United Kingdom as an individual with humanitarian protection status
  • You have Leave to Remain or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the United Kingdom but cannot obtain a passport from your country of nationality

 

What are the different types of UK travel documents?

There are four different types of UK Home Office Travel Documents. You will need to apply for the correct type of UK Home Office Travel Document for your circumstances. These include the Refugee Travel Document, Stateless Person’s Travel Document, One-Way Travel Document, and Certificate of Travel.

Refugee Travel Document – This type of UK Home Office Travel Document is intended for people who have been granted refugee status in the United Kingdom as well as people who came to the United Kingdom via Family Reunion to join a family member who has refugee status. Refugees are eligible for UK Home Office Travel Documents as per the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. The Refugee Travel Document is valid for up to 5 years for individuals with Leave to Remain and expires in line with your immigration permission. If you have Indefinite Leave to Remain as a refugee, your Refugee Travel Document is valid for up to 10 years. If you are under the age of 15, your Refugee Travel Document is valid for up to 5 years. You can travel anywhere in the world on a Refugee Travel Document except for your country of nationality and/or any country you’ve sought asylum from. Please note that you will still be liable to apply for visa(s) before travelling internationally as you are not considered a UK national with this document. You will also need to be sure that the countries you travel to accept Refugee Travel Documents as a valid form of identification.

 

Stateless Person’s Travel Document

This type of UK Home Office Travel Document is intended for individuals who have been recognised by the UK Government as being stateless. Stateless persons are those who lack an officially recognised nationality from any country around the world and therefore are not eligible for the passport of any country. The Stateless Person’s Travel Document is valid for up to 5 years for individuals with Leave to Remain and expires in line with your immigration permission. If you have Indefinite Leave to Remain as a stateless person, your Stateless Person’s Travel Document is valid for up to 10 years. If you are under the age of 15, your Stateless Person’s Travel Document is valid for up to 5 years. You can generally travel anywhere in the world on a Stateless Person’s Travel Document issued by the UK Home Office. Please note that you will still be liable to apply for visa(s) before travelling internationally as you are not considered a UK national with this document. You will also need to be sure that the countries you travel to accept Stateless Person’s Travel Documents as a valid form of identification.

 

One-Way Travel Document

This type of UK Home Office Travel Document is intended for individuals who are not British, do not have a valid passport from their country of nationality, and seek to leave the United Kingdom permanently. It allows a one-way right of travel out of the United Kingdom to a country of destination. You will not be able to return to the United Kingdom on a One-Way Travel Document, so you will want to apply for a full passport once you leave the UK. The One-Way Travel Document is valid for 12 months from the date of issue. Please note that you will still be liable to apply for visa(s) before travelling internationally as you are not considered a UK national with this document. You will also need to be sure that the countries you travel to accept One-Way Travel Documents as a valid form of identification.

 

Certificate of Travel

This type of UK Home Office Travel Document is intended for individuals who fall under one of the following situations:

  • If you have Leave to Remain or Indefinite Leave to Remain and have been refused a passport by your country of nationality
  • If you have humanitarian protection status in the United Kingdom with officially recognised fear of the authorities from your country of nationality
  • If you are on a Family Reunion visa in the United Kingdom after joining your family member who has humanitarian protection status in the United Kingdom
  • If you were born in the United Kingdom to an individual who has refugee status in the UK but you have not been granted refugee status in your own right
  • If you have a critical reason to travel and cannot receive a passport from your country of nationality quickly enough
  • If you fall under any of the above situations, you may be eligible for a Certificate of Travel. If you are applying for a Certificate of Travel due to a critical and imminent need to travel, you will need to provide details about why you need to travel soon.

 

What is the application process like for a UK travel document?

The application process for a UK Travel Document is not complex, but you must ensure that you meet the requirements and eligibility criteria before beginning the online application form. If you do not meet all requirements and eligibility criteria for a UK Home Office Travel Document, your application will be refused. You will need to submit a separate Travel Document application for every individual in your family, if you are applying as a family unit.

First, you will need to select the Travel Document application form on the UK Home Office website. You will need to identify if you are inside or outside the United Kingdom and then select the type of Travel Document for which you seek to apply – One-Way Travel Document, Certificate of Travel, Stateless Person’s Travel Document, or Refugee Travel Document. You will then need to provide an email address to the Home Office and click through the email verification link.

Next, you will provide all required personal details for your Travel Document application such as the following:

  • Your name
  • Your email address
  • Your phone number
  • Your home address
  • Your sex and relationship status
  • Your country of nationality, date of birth, country of birth, and place of birth
  • Information about your current Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)
  • Your National Insurance Number (NIN)

 

You will also need to provide details about any criminal convictions, driving penalties, arrests, charges, cautions warnings, reprimands or other out-of-court penalties, civil court judgments, or civil penalties under UK immigration law that have been issued in the United Kingdom or any other country. You must also provide details if you have ever been involved in war crimes, crimes against humanity, genoide, terrorist activities, terrorist organisations, held terrorist views, or any other activities that would indicate you are not a person of good character. You must truthfully provide this information or face rejection of your application.

You will then provide details about your immigration and travel history, such as the length of time you have lived in the United Kingdom, any Home Office reference numbers you have been issued, past immigration applications in the UK and abroad. You will also need to provide details about places you plan to travel once you receive your new UK Home Office Travel Document, if you have these details.

Finally, you will need to consent to provide supporting documents. You will be required to send two passport-sized photographs in the post with your name and date of birth written on the back of each photograph. You will also need to send any previous Travel Documents to the Home Office before they will issue your new Travel Document. You will then confirm all information on the Travel Document application and pay the relevant application fee. Once you have paid the application fee, your online application form is complete. You should download and print the Document Checklist to send with your supporting documents in the post.

After you have submitted the online Travel Document application form, you will need to collect all supporting documents. At minimum, you will be required to send two passport-sized photographs and your Document Checklist. If you are submitting an application on behalf of a minor, you will need to provide a consent letter declaring that you agree to apply for your child’s Travel Document. You may be asked to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances, such as:

  • Your Leave to Remain grant letter
  • Any current or expired Home Office Travel Documents
  • Any current or expired national passports
  • Any current or expired foreign national identity cards

 

The Document Checklist will identify if you need to send original copies of these documents or if you can send copies of these documents. If any of these documents are not originally in English, Welsh, or Scottish Gaelic, you will need to include a certified translation alongside the original language.

Once you have collected all of your documents, you should send them with your Document Checklist within 15 working days to the Home Office at the below address:

Home Office Travel Documents Section
Lunar House
40 Wellesley Road
Croydon
CR9 2BY

 

How much does it cost to apply for a UK travel document?

The cost of your new UK Home Office Travel Document will depend on the type of Travel Document you require and how old you are. Here are the associated costs for the four types of UK Home Office Travel Documents:

 

Refugee Travel Document

Adults born after 1 September 1929 £75
Children under the age of 15 £49
Adults born before 1 September 1929 £0

 

Stateless Person’s Travel Document

Adults born after 1 September 1929 £75
Children under the age of 15 £49
Adults born before 1 September 1929 £0

 

One-Way Travel Document

Adults £75
Children under the age of 15 £49

 

Certificate of Travel

Adults £280
Children under the age of 15 £280

 

You will need to pay the full Travel Document fee at the end of the online application form. If you do not pay the associated fee for your Travel Document, your application will be considered null and void.

 

How long does it take to receive a decision on my UK travel document application?

Once you have submitted the online application form for a UK Home Office Travel Document and submitted your two passport-size photographs in the post, you will need to wait for your Travel Document to process. Typically, you could wait 3 months to receive your new Travel Document to arrive. However, due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Home Office advises that it could take up to 6 months for your new Travel Document to arrive. As such, the Home Office strongly advises that you should not plan or book any travel arrangements until you have received your new UK Travel Document.

 

UK travel document FAQs

What is a Travel Document in the UK?

A UK Home Office Travel Document is an alternative form of identification that provides the ability to cross international borders for travel. It is intended for people who are not British citizens and cannot obtain a passport from their country of nationality. It does not confer the same rights of British nationals.

How long does it take to get a Travel Document in the UK?

After submitting the online application form for a Travel Document and sending two passport-size photographs in the post, you should normally receive your new Travel Document within 3 months. However, the Home Office notes that this could take up to 6 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You should not book travel arrangements until you receive your new Travel Document.

What are the 4 types of Travel Documents?

The four types of UK Home Office Travel Documents are Refugee Travel Documents, Stateless Person’s Travel Documents, One-Way Travel Documents, and Certificates of Travel. You will need to apply for the correct type of Travel Document for your circumstances.

Which countries can I travel to with a UK Travel Document?

You can travel to most countries in the world with a UK Travel Document, but you will need to apply for visas in line with the rules for your nationality. However, people with refugee status and humanitarian protection status cannot travel to their country of nationality nor the country from which they seek asylum.

 

Legal disclaimer

The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.

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As editor of Xpats.io, Gill is passionate about helping individuals and organisations overseas explore and pursue opportunities in the UK. She is a content specialist in the fields of immigration, law and business.