Voluntary Repatriation (UNHCR-Facilitated Return) – Iraqi returnees

Before engaging in a return trip to Iraq, 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 Hoviat card until you are confident you can go back safely and in a durable manner.

If you are a valid Hoviat 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 will facilitate returns to Iraq 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.

UNHCR Facilitated Returns are voluntary

Your decision to return to Iraq or remain in the current location is fully voluntary and on the basis of your informed decision. Before deciding to return to Iraq, you and members of your family should ensure that you have adequate information about the condition in the intended destination in Iraq. 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 Iraq.

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.

Who is eligible to receive UNHCR’s voluntary repatriation assistance?

  • All registered Iraqi refugees residing in Iran holding a valid Hoviat card, issued by the Government of Iran are eligible to get registered for UNHCR Voluntary repatriation and receive VolRep Cash Assistance. Please note that UNHCR Iran provides VolRep cash assistance to Iraqi returnees to partially cover their cost to the border.
  • Iraqis who DO NOT HOLD valid Hoviat card, are not entitled to any return assistance from UNHCR.
  • Iraqis who have already received UNHCR’s assistance to repatriate in previous years are not eligible.   

How to benefit from 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 Iraq 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 Iraq or elsewhere in Iran. In Iraq, the VRF will serve you as a return document proving that you were a refugee in Iran.

Reintegration Grant

Iraqi returnees do not receive Reintegration Grant in Iraq. For any advice on return you may get in touch with our UNHCR Offices in Iraq. Please do check this link. 

Kindly note that UNHCR Iran provides a VolRep cash assistance to returnees that partially covers the costs to the border.

The cash is provided through bank transfer to the returnees account or to a trustee alternative collector and if this is not possible, a gift card can be provided. The gift card is only to purchase items. The VolRep cash assistance is 10,000,000 IRR per person.

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 Hoviat 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 Hoviat card, we advise you to approach UNHCR for repatriation counselling.

Customs allowances and restrictions                                                         

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.

Below is a list of some permitted and prohibited items. For a complete list, you may approach BAFIA and UNHCR or visit UNHCR Iran HELP page: https://help.unhcr.org/iran/en/

Permitted and Prohibited items:

Permitted ItemsProhibited Items
– Personal belongings (luggage limitations apply), as long as they are non- commercial.  

– Money in Rials and Iraqi Dinars and a maximum of US $1,000 or its equivalent in other currencies.  
– Any items in commercial quantities.
– Hand-woven carpets, antiques and cultural heritage items are prohibited.
– Subsidized items such as medicine, cooking oil, wheat, flour, stationery, etc.
– Fuel, kerosene, gas oil, petrol and butane gas cylinders.
– MOTORCYCLES (whole or in parts).
– Imported professional equipment, machinery and computers, unless a special permit is obtained.  

Non-Hoviat Card holders

UNHCR does not have a programme for Voluntary Repatriation of non-Hoviat card holders.

Other recommendations

Prior to returning, Iraqi refugees should make sure that all the documents they will need in Iraq, such as their children’s school enrolment documents (education certificate and records), are updated and properly signed/verified by the relevant Embassy or Consulates in Iran.

Relevant contacts and available services in Iraq

If you have any questions, concerns, or complaints about the services provided by UNHCR in Iraq, you can contact UNHCR Iraq. For more information on UNHCR Iraq, please visit Iraq HELP page: https://help.unhcr.org/iraq/en/

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.

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.