Current UK government policy & guidance on obtaining travel documents for foreign nationals

This section contains Home Office policy and staff guidance in the public domain.

Home Office guidance: Documents for enforced removals v11.0 Valid from 05 February 2015 

This guidance explains the types of travel documents used to enforce removals and how to obtain removal documents for someone without a travel document.  It includes guidance on initial redocumentation action, information required for documentation purposes, conducting documentation interviews, compliance with the re-documentation process, Chicago Convention letter, European Union Letter, Emergency Travel Documents, applying for an emergency travel document, fingerprints for documentation purposes, timescales for obtaining an emergency travel document (redacted), emergency travel document process, emergency travel document agreements, emergency travel document revalidations, and other sections.

Home Office guidance: Assisted Voluntary Returns version 10.0 Valid from 2 April 2014

This guidance covers what an assisted voluntary return (AVR) programme is, information about the three different AVR programmes, and the process involved when an AVR application is accepted, rejected, withdrawn, or cancelled. 
it includes references to the assitance provided to returnees to help them get travel documentation, liaise with embassies, high commissions and the Home Office when necessary, and the limitations on this assistance. 

Home Office, Enforcement Instructions and Guidance, Chapter 18 – Enforcement instructions and guidance Amended instructions for documenting removals and the implementation of section 35 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of claimants etc.) Act 2004 in non-compliant cases 

Enforcement Instructions and Guidance (EIG) contain guidance and information for officers dealing with immigration enforcement within the UK.  See this chapter for Home Office guidance on Section 35 action for non-compliance with travel document procedures. This chapter outlines the issue of the IS35 letter, the Documentation Interview, non-compliance action, timing of Section 35 action, Witness statements, second tier interview and referral for prosecution, and what the Home Office considers to constitute a ‘reasonable excuse’ in the matter of cooperation on travel documents.  Section 8.3 notes that 

  • "CPS guidance is that the legislation is silent on what constitutes ‘reasonable excuse’. In the case of R v Masoud Tabnak [2007] the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) found that a failure to co-operate based on a fear of persecution or serious harm under the Refugee Convention and Article 3 of the Human Rights Convention, could not amount to a ‘reasonable excuse’ for not complying with the requirement imposed under section 35(1) of the Act. The Court confirmed the decision of the trial judge that “To allow fear of persecution to amount to a reasonable excuse would frustrate the intended aims and objectives of Parliament.” The provision is concerned solely with an inability to comply with the practical requirements defined in section 35(2)."

Home Office Asylum Process Guidance (APGs) explains how UK Visas and Immigration decide applications.  Of interest for travel and identity documents are the following APGs:

Nationality: Doubtful, Disputed and Other Cases version 5.0 valid from October 2013 

Includes a section on methods used to assess nationality, on dual nationality, disputed nationality etc.

Home Office APG, Biometric Data-sharing (fingerprint matching) [Five Country Conference (FCC) Process] valid from July 2010 

This instruction is intended for the sight of all UK Border Agency (UKBA) officers involved in asylum screening, asylum interviewing, making substantive asylum decisions, onward case management, presenting appeals, and re-documenting subjects for removal from the United Kingdom. The purpose of this instruction is to explain how to identify cases which may benefit from international biometric data-sharing, how to arrange these checks, and how to use the results. 

Latest Home Office CROS Country reference guide (version issued November 2014 via FOI request)

This guidance for Home Office staff contains information by country, on requirements for EUL or ETD for return, the current likelihood of ETD agreement, minimum ETD requirements, current country information, constraints, with original evidence, with copy evidence, with no evidence, and how long the ETD is valid for. 


Helpline for detainees

Tel: 020 7456 9750
Fax: 020 3745 5226

Helpline open Monday to Thursday between 10am and 12 midday


020 7456 9762 (Monday to Friday)
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