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.
    – Aleks G
    Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 20:12
  • @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.
    – Aleks G
    Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 20:19
  • I don't have any passport from any other country. Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 16:24
  • 2
    @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.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 19, 2015 at 22:03
  • 1
    I was able to find some more Schengen countries which will accept your refugee travel document without a visa: Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, and Slovakia. This and the official source are also listed below. Commented Oct 25, 2015 at 2:13

6 Answers 6


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.

Some examples:

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... Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 16:18
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    @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. Commented May 19, 2015 at 1:22
  • We entered Italy from Switzerland with no border stop. BUT, about fifteen minutes later, we were chased down by la Guardia Finanza (Tax Police) who demanded to see all our paperwork. Not sure what they were after, as the car was Italian.
    – WGroleau
    Commented Dec 24, 2015 at 6:20
  • @WGroleau was it a rental? Even if it wasn't, Italians can smuggle, too! While Switzerland is generally expensive, the VAT is low, and for some products, notably including some high-value items such as electronic goods, it may be possible to find better deals in Switzerland than in Italy.
    – phoog
    Commented Jan 24 at 13:00
  • Yes, it was rented in Milano. Do the "Tax Police" handle customs?
    – WGroleau
    Commented Jan 24 at 16:49

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.

  • Verified by official site (in French). Commented Oct 25, 2015 at 2:04
  • @MichaelHampton That seems to be a Belgian website, why would that discuss Dutch rules?
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Oct 25, 2015 at 12:30
  • 2
    @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. Commented Oct 25, 2015 at 21:30
  • 1
    timaticweb.com/cgi-bin/… Commented Oct 25, 2015 at 21:47

Germany, Hungary and Slovakia are so far the only Europe countries that allow visa free entry for US Refugee Travel Document holders.

  • 3
    Do you have a source for that?
    – drat
    Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 2:22

Belgium too does not require a visa for refugee travel document holders.


One more country to add to the list: Georgia. You get a 360 day stamp on arrival into your I-571 Travel Document.

  • Georgia isn't in the Schengen area, though, which is what the question is about. Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 19:05

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)
  • Croatia
  • Slovakia
  • Hungary

Requires Visa:

  • Austria
  • Finland
  • Italy
  • France
  • Switzerland
  • The page you linked states that Finland requires a visa for refugee travel document holders. Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 15:00
  • I think this is pretty useful. Although, we still need to confirm it with the related Embassy. Commented Nov 7, 2016 at 15:28

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