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I would like to renew my Belarusian passport in Canada since it expires in less than two months. There are some problems, though.

  1. Belarus recently claimed they are no longer renewing passports abroad
  2. I have Canadian PR, which I believe I will need to disclose if I travel to Belarus, at which point I will be put on some sort of watch list (not ideal).

Alternatives I’ve considered:

  1. Let the passport expire. Not ideal since I have family there and would like to visit using the passport in the future.
  2. Travel to Belarus and renew the visa. Not ideal because I’ll be put on a watchlist and it is cumbersome to travel to Belarus given current circumstances.
  3. If I let my passport expire, then maybe there are some temporary passport alternatives that I can obtain in Canada so I can continue to travel to the US and other countries.

Links I’ve based this question on:

https://www.rbc.ru/politics/05/09/2023/64f6fe349a79476ef594a2dd

https://www.ctvnews.ca/world/belarus-bans-citizens-from-renewing-passports-abroad-spreading-fear-among-those-who-fled-repression-1.6548283

https://www.rferl.org/a/belarus-lukashenka-embassies-stop-passports/32579703.html

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    I know many Belarusians who are residents of other countries and have traveled to/from Belarus this year without issues. Are you sure it’s a real problem for non activist citizens?
    – JonathanReez
    Sep 21, 2023 at 18:49
  • Have you been involved in some sort of activism or protests in the past? Things like being arrested during a manifestation, being an elections observer, being a registered election campaign assistant or candidate, being involved in human rights activism? Sep 22, 2023 at 7:41
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    Can you ask at the Belarusian embassy near you (in Canada)? Sep 22, 2023 at 14:44
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    How long have you had your Canadian PR/how long do you have to wait to get citizenship? It may be easier just to wait it out.
    – Eugene
    Sep 22, 2023 at 14:47

2 Answers 2

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If the Belarus authorities genuinely won’t renew your passport you could approach the Canadian authorities and enquire about a Canadian Travel Document (like a stateless person’s travel document). You might need documentary evidence they won’t renew your Belarus passport. And the travel document will probably require you to get a visa for most countries, so it wouldn’t be ideal but would at least allow you to travel.

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    Specifically, the Canadian travel document for non-refugee permanent residents who are stateless or cannot obtain other travel documents is the certificate of identity (grey cover). It is recognized by some (notably the U.S.) but far from all countries (e.g. many Schengen countries do not recognize the document).
    – xngtng
    Sep 22, 2023 at 8:01
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The first and the most important: See exactly when the new passport renewal procedures get enforced.

I failed to find the exact text of the presidental decree in pravo.by (this seems to be the authoritative source in Belarus) - at least not in Russian - but my Russian is rusty and Belarusian is somewhat a challenge for me. But I am pretty confident that the exact enforcement of any administrative procedure will lag behind the official deadline. This happens in all administrative bodies and even more so in post-Soviet ones.

Chances are that you can still renew your passport without travelling to Belarus. Your first point would be calling the consulate in New York and asking about the matter (looks like the embassy of Belarus in Canada closed in 2021).


In regard to bein put on a watchlist:

I assume that you live in Canada and have no plans for relocating to Belarus any time soon. This means that you are already on the list of the people living abroad (whatever this means to the Belarussian government) and you don't lose much by being also on the list of the people who recently renewed their passport. Disclosing a Canadian permanent residence is probably neither required nor relevant.

I think it is not some watchlist you should worry about.

What could go wrong when you travel to Belarus is that you may fail to return back to Canada. From what I see in the news, the risk is not negligible and involves things like e.g. being drafted in the army.

Compared to this, being in Canada with an expired passport does not look so bad.

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    the exact enforcement of any administrative procedure will lag behind the official deadline. Usually this is for the availability of new procedures, or the implementation of changes to them. But stopping a procedure is easy and fast, you just need to tell the clerk that he is not to admit any new request. Maybe an online portal will not be updated in time to prevent people sending requests, but those can be denied or just ignored by the people processing them.
    – SJuan76
    Sep 22, 2023 at 10:00
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    @fraxinus, "Disclosing a Canadian permanent residence is probably neither required nor relevant." Disclosing such things is required in Russia, so it is probable that it is also the case in Belarus.
    – mintay
    Sep 22, 2023 at 11:33
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    You will need to go to the American embassy in Ottawa to obtain a visa before entering the US to go to the Belarus Embassy. Even though you have a Canadian PR, I believe that you are still considered a citizen of your home country. Sep 23, 2023 at 4:04
  • @MatthewBarclay most Canadian residents should deal with the US consulate closest to them rather than traveling to Ottawa, though of course this may still be quite some distance from some parts of Canada.
    – mlc
    Sep 24, 2023 at 22:09
  • @SJuan76 Of course, it is easier just to say "stop" - and still there are some untied ends - e.g. the message has to come from proper channels (government TV is not a proper channel), a document or a batch of documents could be back-dated because of some administrative bottleneck, etc. etc... Bureaucracy is quite a complex thing.
    – fraxinus
    Sep 25, 2023 at 6:08

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