Before engaging in a return trip to Afghanistan, you should find as much reliable information as you can from official sources like BAFIA and UNHCR about the security situation in your final destination and how to get there. Do not initiate travel and/or void your Amayesh card until you are confident you can go back safely and in a durable manner.
Following the issuance of the UNHCR non-return advisory for Afghanistan on 16 August 2021, UNHCR remains cautious and continues to provide enhanced counselling to prospected returnees on the situation in their final destinations and routes thereto, particularly to those with more vulnerable profiles, on a case by case basis.
UNHCR and the Government of Iran assist those who wish to return to their country of origin when the return can be done in safety and dignity.
If you are an Amayesh card holder and wish to return to your country of origin, we recommend you inform yourself on the security situation and important aspects such as access to employment and availability of other basic services in your final destination.
UNHCR’s position on returns to Afghanistan is as follows:
UNHCR has issued a non-return advisory to States. This advisory, issued after the August 2021 events in Afghanistan, calls on States hosting Afghans to suspend the forcible return of Afghan nationals to Afghanistan.
While UNHCR has made clear that those who do not wish to return to Afghanistan should not be forcibly returned, UNHCR does respect and support the decision of individual Afghans to return home, provided certain benchmarks are met.
UNHCR will facilitate returns to Afghanistan based on the following benchmarks:
- The choice to return is voluntary and well-informed
- There are no significant protection concerns in an intended return location
- Dignity is assured during the return and reintegration process
- There is no exploitative arrangement in the return
- The principles of family unity and the best interests of the child are respected.
Heightened Risk Profiles
Some profiles of Afghans may be exposed to greater risks upon return. If you or a family member think you have profiles which could expose you or your family to greater risks, please ensure you consider your return very carefully.
Currently, many Afghan women face various restrictions in terms of access to jobs, access to education and freedom of movement in Afghanistan. Girls’ high schools remain closed, and the de facto authorities have banned women from universities. Although the authorities stated that the ban is temporary, a date to re-open schools and universities have not been given. In addition, the de facto authorities impose movement restrictions requiring that women travel with a male chaperone (mahram), particularly when they travel to another province or country.
You and your family members should not feel compelled to return due to any pressure or because you are forced to leave the current location for any reason.
If you decide you don’t want to return at the last stage, please make sure to communicate your decision to UNHCR prior to de-registration and before you have been issued with a Voluntary Repatriation Form (VRF) by UNHCR.
Once you are de-registered, you will no longer have access to refugee status and any associated benefits in this country.
Your decision to return to Afghanistan or remain in the current location is fully voluntary and on the basis of your informed decision. Before deciding to return to Afghanistan, you and members of your family should ensure that you have adequate information about the condition in the intended destination in Afghanistan. The conditions include safety/security and available services such as health and education facilities and economic opportunities and other factors that are important to you and your family, before deciding whether or not you wish to return to Afghanistan.
You and members of your family should not feel compelled to return due to any pressure or because you are forced to leave the current location for any reasons.
If you indicate to UNHCR an intention to return but later decide that return is not in the best interest of yourself and your family, you can change your decision. But please make sure to communicate to UNHCR your decision prior to de-registration (of your Amayesh/Refugee card) and issuance of a Voluntary Repatriation Form (VRF).
How to benefit from the UNHCR Voluntary Repatriation program
You, and all your family members going back with you to your country of origin, should contact the UNHCR office nearest to your place of residence for counselling. You will be asked to sign a Voluntary Repatriation Form (VRF). The VRF is a document issued by UNHCR to returning refugees (returnees) confirming their intent to return voluntarily to Afghanistan with the assistance of UNHCR.
It is important that you provide accurate information to UNHCR for filling in the VRF as this form will not be re-issued in Afghanistan or elsewhere in Iran. In Afghanistan, the VRF will serve you as a return document proving that you were a refugee in Iran.
Who is eligible to receive UNHCR’s voluntary repatriation assistance?
All registered Afghan refugees residing in Iran holding a valid Amayesh card, issued by the respective governments Iran. Afghans who DO NOT HOLD Amayesh card, are not entitled to any return assistance from UNHCR. Afghans who have already received UNHCR’s assistance to repatriate in previous years will not receive cash assistance again.
In order to be eligible for assistance you must first contact your nearest UNHCR Office / Voluntary Repatriation Centre (VRC) to be counselled and issued with a VRF. You are strongly advised to call the UNHCR hotline to obtain an appointment before physically approaching the UNHCR office.
You may also directly approach the UNHCR Office at the Dogharoun Border to receive counselling and to fill in and sign the UNHCR Voluntary Repatriation Form. It is advisable that you approach the UNHCR Office at the Dogharoun Border before noon.
Which documents do Afghan refugees need to bring to the VRC?
Prior to returning, Afghan refugees should make sure that all the documents they will need in Afghanistan, such as their children’s school enrolment documents (education certificate and records), are updated and properly signed/verified in Iran.
Please note that UNHCR in Afghanistan will not provide any assistance to Afghans, who do not hold a VRF upon return. Returnees must therefore ensure that they have obtained their VRF before leaving the VRC, and that it is readable. If the print is faded or cannot be read, then another copy must be obtained before leaving the VRC.
What kind of assistance will repatriating Afghan refugees receive?
UNHCR Afghanistan provides each registered refugee returnee holding a valid VRF with a one-off cash grant of $375 (covering transportation, re-entry, and immediate needs upon arrival).
The VolRep grant is provided at the UNHCR Encashment Centres (ECs) inside Afghanisan, located in Nangarhar, Kandahar, Kabul and Herat provinces. This grant is available at the Encashment Centres in Afghanistan from one day after the Voluntary Repatriation Form has been issued by UNCHR Iran. This means that if you collect the Voluntary Repatriation Form, you will need to make arrangements that allow you collect the cash grant from the appropriate Encashment Centre in Afghanistan one day after receiving the Voluntary Repatriation Form from UNHCR Iran.
In addition, due to the current economic instability in Afghanistan, refugee families who return with a VRF from 1 January 2023 will receive a one-time supplemental reintegration cash grant four (4) months after arrival in their areas of origin/intended destination. This grant is intended to support reintegration by extending financial support for three additional months. Returnee families will receive $700 (for a family of two or more people) or $350 (for single individuals).
The supplementary reintegration cash grant will be provided based on the information in your VRF. The VRF must be readable. If the document is faded or cannot be read, please obtain another copy before leaving Iran. Please make sure to avoid damaging/losing your VRF.
The provision of the supplementary reintegration cash grant will be facilitated by UNHCR and its partners in Afghanistan. To ensure you receive the supplementary grant, it is essential that you provide UNHCR/partners in Afghanistan with your active phone number(s) following arrival at the Encashment Centre so that UNHCR Afghanistan can contact you when it is time to collect the grant. If your contact details change (phone number or address), you must inform UNHCR Afghanistan immediately by contacting the Encashment Centre helpline. More information about when, where and how to collect the cash will be given to you at the Encashment Centre when you arrive in Afghanistan.
The supplemental cash grant is limited to $700 per family. If your whole family does not return at once, the first family member to arrive in Afghanistan will receive $350. If other family members return at a later date, they will receive the remaining half of the grant ($350). If two or more family members return together, they will receive 700 USD regardless of how many other family members opted not to return at that given time. Any subsequent returnees will not receive a supplemental cash grant as 700 USD has already been given to the same family.
The supplementary cash grant will only be paid once. However, you may benefit from other services provided by UNHCR and our partners in Priority Areas of Return and Reintegration (PARRs)/in your communities (further details about PARRs are available from UNHCR staff in Afghanistan).
Individuals who received cash assistance for repatriation in previous years will not be eligible to receive cash assistance again and cannot receive the supplementary repatriation cash grant.
Individuals who returned prior to 01 January 2023 are not eligible to receive the supplementary reintegration cash grant. However, they may benefit from other services provided by UNHCR and our partners in PARRs and other communities (further details about PARRs are available below and from UNHCR staff).
In addition to the cash assistance, returning refugees will receive basic health care and overnight accommodation at the Encashment Centres if required. They may receive additional services such as mine risk education, drug awareness, child-friendly spaces, basic health care, vaccinations and malnutrition screening, etc. provided by other partners present in the Encashment Centres.
Relevant contacts and available services in Afghanistan
If you have any questions, concerns, or complaints about the services provided by UNHCR in Afghanistan, you can contact UNHCR Afghanistan via our helplines (Please refer to contact details below).
Kindly find below contact details of Encashment Centers in Afghanistan:
Address: Around 5 KM away from the Center of Herat City in the north along the road to the Shrine of Khawja Abdullah Ansari
Open Sunday – Thursday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Friday, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Tel: +93 729 868 381 operational during official working hours (08:00 – 4:30 pm)
Address: Kabul – Jalalabad Road, next to Tangi Gharoo, close to Jalalabad Bus Station
Open Sunday – Thursday, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Tel: +93 729 128 635 operational during official working hours (08:00 – 4:30 pm)
Jamal Mayna/Kandahar EC
Address: Kandahar-Spin Boldak Highway, 4 km from Shur Andam Kutal towards Kabul Dorahi on the right side of the road
Open Saturday – Thursday, 8 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Tel: +93 708 081 802 operational during official working hours (08:00 – 4:30 pm)
Address: Main Jalalabad-Torkham Highway, Samarkhel area close to Tagab IDP camp, Bihsud district, Nangarhar province
Open from Sunday to Thursday 08:45 to 15:45
Tel: +93 786 482 262 operational during official working hours (08:00 – 4:30 pm)
UNHCR Country Office Kabul
Address: ICON Compound, Supreme Road, District # 9, Jalalabad Road, Kabul, Afghanistan.
Working hours: Sunday – Thursday, 7:45 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Toll-Free Hotline numbers: +93 791 990 225, +93 790 691 746 and +93 704 996 168 (available during official working hours – Sunday – Thursday from 08:00 – 4:30 pm)
UNHCR Protection email – [email protected]
Return locations and available services
As of February 2023, 75 districts in 33 provinces and 5 major cities (Kabul, Jalalabad, Kandahar, Herat, and Mazar-e-Sharif) in Afghanistan have been designated as Priority Areas of Return and Reintegration (PARRs) and significant efforts have been made to extend various services and support to these areas. UNHCR and partners have access to all of these areas.
Available information on the location of schools, health centers, water/sanitation, and other services in the PARRs has been provided on the UNHCR Afghanistan HELP page – https://help.unhcr.org/afghanistan/support/
If you would like to know more about services available in your Intended area of return, please inquire with the UNHCR office in your host country prior to return and staff will make every effort to provide you with accurate information.
The security situation in Afghanistan is constantly changing and may vary from one location to another. In addition, reports highlight the risks of drought, hunger, food insecurity and limited job opportunities. Please make sure you check other sources for updated security related information before returning.
You and your family may receive information about land mines/UXOs at our Encashment Centres in Afghanistan.
Housing, land, and property
You and your family may receive information about housing, land and property upon your arrival to the ECs in Afghanistan.
Repatriation by air
UNHCR may facilitate repatriation of refugees who wish to repatriate by air and can afford the cost of their plane ticket and arrange their own transportation to the airport.
If you are willing to repatriate by air, you should approach the relevant BAFIA office to surrender your Amayesh card, receive a travel LP and an introduction letter. You should then take your passport and introduction letter to the Disciplinary Forces (FARAJA) in order to obtain an exit permit. Before surrendering your Amayesh card, we advise you to approach UNHCR Iran Offices for repatriation counselling.
Customs allowances and restrictions
The Government of Iran authorizes all repatriating Afghans to move their professional equipment/tools and home items with customs exemption unless prohibited. In order to export professional equipment and tools from Iran, a special permit is required. To obtain this permit, please contact your local BAFIA office.
Each family is allowed to carry home items in a family need quantity, any item more than the need of a family will be sentenced to customs taxation and UNHCR cannot support in such instances.
If you wish to access further information on Voluntary Repatriation and permitted and prohibited items you can refer to the online Voluntary Repatriation leaflets on the UNHCR Iran webpage: https://www.unhcr.org/ir/.
Non-Amayesh and non-Hoviat Card Holders
UNHCR does not have a programme for Voluntary Repatriation of non-Amayesh or non-Hoviat card holders.
UNHCR and partner services are free of charge
All UNHCR and partner services, including related to return and reintegration, are free of charge.
Questions, complaints and feedback about UNHCR services can be reported here https://www.unhcr.org/igo-complaints.html
Complaints concerning fraud, corruption, exploitation, or abuse (including of a sexual nature) by UNHCR and UNHCR’s partner staff can be reported directly to the UNHCR Inspector-General’s Office (IGO) in Geneva, Switzerland.
- Email: [email protected]
- Online complaint form: https://www.unhcr.org/igo-complaints.html
- Mail: Inspector General’s Office, UNHCR, 94 Rue de Montbrillant, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland
You may also drop a written complaint into the Complaints Box at the refugee reception area of UNHCR Offices. Your complaint will be treated sensitively and kept strictly confidential.
Awaaz inter-agency helpline
You may also direct questions on the humanitarian response or submit complaints/feedback to the Awaaz inter-agency helpline in Afghanistan. The Awaaz helpline is free and confidential. Awaaz can be accessed by those calling from a mobile phone in Afghanistan seven days a week. Female and male agents are available who speak Dari, Pashto, Urdu, English, as well as other languages.
Phone: 410 toll-free (only in Afghanistan)
In addition to the Awaaz helpline, complaints/feedback can be lodged via written petition and submitted in the box at the UNHCR office in Kabul.
Please note that all information you provide – including your name, contact number, address, and query – will be treated confidentially.