Enhancing refugee mobility through issuance of Machine-Readable Convention Travel Documents (MRCTD)

The Government of Rwanda issues Machine Readable Convention Travel Documents to refugees, thus enhancing mobility to access education and livelihoods opportunities within the region and beyond
Good Practices

Enhancing refugee mobility through issuance of Machine-Readable Convention Travel Documents (MRCTD)

The Government of Rwanda issues Machine Readable Convention Travel Documents to refugees, thus enhancing mobility to access education and livelihoods opportunities within the region and beyond

The project in brief

The project is implemented by the Government of Rwanda and UNHCR in Rwanda. It began in 2018 and is currently ongoing.

In Rwanda, Machine Readable Convention Travel Documents (MRCTDs) are issued by the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration (DGIE) for 20,000 RWF (about 20 USD) through Irembo, a government payment gateway. Refugees can access application forms and requirements on the DGIE website, applications are submitted to DGIE in Kigali or to the Camp Immigration Officer. MRCTDs are typically issued in approximately 3 working days. The MRCTDs issued by the Government of Rwanda are compliant with International Civil Aviation Organization standards.

Providing refugees with access to travel documents is consistent with international human rights standards, including right to freedom of movement. It contributes to the dignity and empowerment of refugees to allow them to move freely between countries to find education or employment opportunities, as well as support movements for family reunification. The MRCTD is a recognized legal document that confirm refugees identity and protects them from exploitation and other forms of abuse.

Main activities of the Good Practice

In Rwanda, Machine Readable Convention Travel Documents (MRCTDs) are issued by the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration (DGIE) at a cost of 20,000 RWF (about 20 USD) through the Irembo government payment gateway. Refugees can access application forms and requirements on the DGIE website and applications are submitted to DGIE Offices in Kigali or to the Camp Immigration Officer for refugees living in one of the five refugee camps in Rwanda. MRCTDs are typically issued in approximately 3 working days and enable refugees to pursue education and livelihood opportunities globally, except in their country of origin or countries that do not recognize the MRCTD.

Elements which helped facilitate the implementation of the good practice

From 2004, UNHCR provided the Government of Rwanda Convention Travel Documents to be issued to refugees. The previous CTD was produced in Geneva and was a blank document that was manually filled. In October 2018, the Rwandan government began issuing the machine-readable travel document in line with the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees ratified by the Government of Rwanda in 1979, and in compliance with standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the recommendations made in May 2014 recommendations by the ICAO Technical Advisory Group on Machine Readable Travel Documents.

UNHCR provided one-time initial funding to support the roll-out of the MRCTD. Since then, the process of documentation is well established and effectively accessible to refugees.

Partners involved

  • Government of Rwanda
  • UNHCR

Results of the Good Practice

Increases agency and self-reliance: With a valid travel document, refugees are able to pursue education and employment opportunities in other countries that accept the travel document.

Removes barriers to access durable solutions: The ability to travel with a recognized document enhances the sense of dignity and empowerment among refugees. It acknowledges their status as individuals with rights and contributes to a more humane treatment of displaced persons.

Protection from refoulment: Holding a valid refugee travel document protects refugees from arbitrary detention and refoulment.

Freedom of movement: Refugees often face severe restrictions on their ability to travel internationally. The CTD grants refugees a degree of freedom of movement, enabling them to travel across borders legally.

In what way does the good practice meet one or more of the four objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees?

Objective 3: Expand access to third-country solutions

Some refugees in Rwanda may be able to benefit from legal pathways that allow them to access third countries for education, work, or family reunification. By providing MRCTDs the Rwandan government is supporting them to access these solutions.

Submitted by

Louisa Ndanu Muithya

Contact the project

[email protected]