Civil Documentation and Residency

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Residency and Freedom of Movement

Within the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI): Refugees and asylum-seekers should obtain a valid residency permit from the Residency Department. This procedure varies by governorate.

Refugees and asylum-seekers holding a valid residency permit for KRI are free to move within the governates of KRI only. The resident permit for KRI is not valid for travel to the centre and southern governorates of Iraq. Attempting to travel outside KRI without proper clearance may subject refugees and asylum-seekers to risks of arrest, detention, or deportation.


For Erbil

Syrian Refugees:

Entry without a visa: Syrian refugees who arrived at KRI without a visa and who hold a valid UNHCR asylum-seeker certificate and a Syrian identity document can obtain residency permits by contacting the relevant Residency office:

  • If you are registered with UNHCR and live in Erbil city: call 07519511951 to schedule an appointment.
  • If you live in Soran, Choman, Rawanduz, Khalifan, Harir, and Shaqlawa districts: approach the residency office in Basirma camp.
  • If you live in the Syrian refugee camps in Erbil governorate (Basirma, Qushtapa, Kawargosk and Darashakran): approach the residency office inside your respective camp.

Once you receive a Residency Office appointment, they will refer you to Assayesh for a security interview.

You should bring the following documents to obtain your residency permit card for both your Residency Office appointment and the Assayesh interview:

  • A valid UNHCR certificate
  • A Syrian identification document, which can include a family booklet, Syrian national ID, record of the family registry, etc. For children: birth certificate or proof of birth certificate or the family booklet.
  • IF you are a Syrian refugee living outside of the camps, a housing support letter is required from the Mukhtar of your area, ratified by the mayor of your district or local Assayesh.

The Residency Department will refer you to the Central Public Health Laboratory in Erbil for the blood test, which costs each IQD 31,500. All Syrian refugees residing in a refugee camp are exempted from the blood test requirement. Also, children below the age of 14, women older than 50 and men older than 60 are exempted.

Entry with a visa: If you have entered KRI regularly with a visa, you should visit the Erbil Residency Directorate to obtain a residency permit card within 30 days; otherwise you will be subjected to overstay fine payments.

Residency permit cards are issued to all asylum-seekers, age 14 and older. Names of children under age 14 are placed on the back of the mother’s residency permit card. In the absence of the mother, the child’s name is placed on the back of the father’s card. If no parent is available, it will be placed on the caregiver’s card. Children of age 14 and older can obtain their own individual residency permit card. If they do not wish to have an individual residency permit card, their names will be placed on the back of their mother’s residency permit card and will not be required to undergo a blood test.

Refugees of other nationalities:

  • Entry with a visa: If you entered KRI regularly by visa, you should visit the Erbil Residency Directorate to obtain a residency permit card within 30 days; otherwise you will be subjected to overstay fine payments. You may also apply for a visa extension, which will be for another 30-day before your visa expires. The fees for visa extension is IQD 100,000.
  • Entry without a visa: Iranian refugees with a political party support letter can visit the Erbil Residency Directorate and obtain a residency permit card. The Residency Department will refer you to the Central Public Health Laboratory in Erbil for the blood test, which costs each IQD 31,500. The Residency Directorate will also refer you to Assayesh for a security clearance interview.
  • For Iranian refugees, you will need to bring the following documents with you:
    • Political party membership ID;
    • Political party support letter;
    • An Iranian Identity Card;
    • Housing support letter from the Mukhtar of your area, ratified by the mayor of your district or the local Assayesh.
  • The entire process may take up to 2-3 weeks from the time you submit your application.
  • If you don’t fall within any of the above nationalities and have entered without a visa, please contact UNHCR legal Assistance Partner at 0751 769 9264 from 08:00 to 17:00 (Sunday -Thursday).

For Dohuk

Syrian Refugees:

Syrians with a valid UNHCR asylum-seeker certificate and any Syrian identity document (Syrian national identification card; a national passport; a family booklet; an identification certificate; or an individual civil registration record) can obtain residency permits by approaching the Residency Office in Duhok City (Duhok Shandokha; Danielle Mitterrand Road), Domiz 1, or Gawilan Refugee Camps with those documents. Those who entered KRI via Peshkhabour Border Crossing Point (PK-BCP) with a 30 days visa should also secure approval from border authorities (PK-BCP) to change their legal status from visitor to asylum-seeker and approval from camp management.

The Residency Office will refer the applicant to:

  •  (1) Blood test results that certify a lack of transmittable diseases for all men ages 14 to60 and women ages 14 to 50 (free of charge and only for first-time arrivals. There is no need for the test in case of renewal of residency permits) and
  •  (2) Camp management (DMCR & Asayish) for approval for those residing in camps and outside camps. You should also approach the local neighbourhood Assayesh, who will request a valid address from the applicant. The local Mukhtar will also issue a letter confirming the applicant’s address.

Note: If your blood test result is positive (meaning it is confirming communicable diseases), you may still be cleared for residency if you first bring a medical report from the hospital stating your prescribed medical treatment.

The Residency Department in Duhok issues the residency permit card free of charge. If you are transferring residency from Erbil or Sulaymaniyah, the fee is IQD10,000.

Documents are issued to all asylum-seekers, age 14 and older. Names of children under the age of 14 are placed on the back of the mother’s card. If the mother is not available, the name is placed on the father’s card. If no parent is available, it will be placed on the caregiver’s card.

The entire process may take up to 2-3 weeks from the time you submit your application.

The Residency Department issues a one-year renewable residency permit upon presentation of favourable blood test results and Assayesh clearance.

If you originally entered KRI with a visa via Erbil International Airport or Ibrahim Al-Khalil or if you are visiting for ordinary residence and work-related reasons: you should visit the Dohuk Residency Directorate to obtain a residency permit card, the “Kurdistan Residency Card”. Otherwise, you will be subject to an overstay fine of up to 20.000 IQD per day.

You will need to bring with you:
• Valid Passport: valid for at least 6 months with visit visa and entry stamp
• Sponsorship provided by an Iraqi national holding a Kurdistan Region Information Card, or a company that is registered in the KR-I
• Job contract signed by Iraqi employers, Iraqi companies, or Iraqi foreign companies registered in the KR-I indicating the contract period
• Security clearance granted by General Assayesh (within one month)
• Blood test results, issued by the General Laboratory in relevant cities, confirming you do not have any communicable diseases.

However, if you have decided to register as an asylum-seeker you should visit the Dohuk Residency Directorate to change your status from foreign “visitor” to asylum seeker. You will also need to change your “Kurdistan Residency Card” to the “Kurdistan Immigration Card”. Not everyone is eligible to change their status. The Dohuk Residency Directorate changes the status based on family reunification, and mostly for marriage purposes.
Once you receive a Residency Office appointment, upon presentation of proof of family reunification, they will refer you to Assayesh for a security interview. Once Assayesh clearance is obtained, you will be referred to DMCR for approval. You should then approach UNHCR for registration as an asylum seeker. After finalizing the above-mentioned procedures, you will need to bring with you:

  • Valid UNHCR certificate
  • A Syrian identification document, which may include a family booklet, Syrian national ID, record of the family registry, etc.
  • Blood test results that certify a lack of transmittable diseases for all men ages 14 to 60 and women ages 14 to 50 (free of charge and only for first-time arrivals. There is no need for the test in case of renewal of residency permits) and
  • Additionally, applicants must approach Camp management (DMCR & Asayish) for approval, for those residing in camps and outside camps. They should also approach the local neighbourhood Assayesh, who will request a valid address from the applicant. The local Mukhtar will also issue a letter confirming the applicant’s address.

Turkish refugees who have been registered with UNHCR will have their residency permits processed by the Dohuk Residency Directorate. You will need to bring with you:

  • Valid UNHCR certificate
  • Housing letter issued by the Mukhtar and ratified by the mayor of your district.

For Sulaymaniyah

Syrian refugees:

Entry without a visa: Syrian refugees who arrived to KRI without a visa and who hold a valid UNHCR asylum-seeker certificate and any Syrian identity document (ID, family book, etc) can obtain residency permits by approaching the Sulaymaniyah Residency Department’s Refugee Unit with those documents. The Residency Department will refer the applicant to:

  • (1) a medical laboratory for a blood test to detect any transmittable diseases (free of charge and only for first-time arrivals. There is no need for the test in case of renewal of residency permits) and
  • (2) Local neighbourhood Assayesh, who will request a valid address of the applicant. The local Mukhtar will issue a letter confirming the address of the applicant.

The Residency Department issues a one-year renewable residency permit after obtaining both the results of the blood test and Assayesh clearance.

Both the Residency Department and Assayesh operate next to the UNHCR registration office in the Arbat Refugee Camp, as well as in the Sulaymaniyah Registration Centre (as of March 2020).

Entry with a visa: If you have entered KRI regularly by visa, you should visit the Sulaymaniyah Residency Directorate to obtain a residency permit.

In Sulaymaniyah, the Residency Department has reduced fees for Syrians who entered KRI via airport with a valid visa and has waived sponsor requirements and overstay fines for Syrian refugee registered with UNHCR.

Refugees of other nationalities:

If you hold a UNHCR Refugee Certificate based on Refugee Status Determination (RSD) or prima facie status: Refugees with (1) a valid UNHCR certificate, (2) any identity document (Nationality ID, Civil ID), (3) and sponsorship, you can obtain residency permits by approaching the Sulaymaniyah Residency Department’s Refugee Unit with those documents.

The Residency Department will refer the applicant to:

  • (1) a medical laboratory for a blood test to detect any test transmittable diseases (free of charge and only for first-time arrivals. There is no need for the test in case of renewal of residency permits) and
  • (2) Local neighbourhood Assayesh, who will request a valid address of the applicant. The local Mukhtar will issue a letter confirming the address of the applicant.

The Residency Department issues a one-year renewable residency permit after obtaining both the results of the blood test and Assayesh clearance.

If you are an asylum-seeker: You are required to bring a sponsorship letter from a Kurdish political party. The issuing residency permit will be valid for 6 months.


Within the Central and Southern Governorates of Iraq

Refugees and asylum-seekers holding a valid PC-MoI card do not need to separately obtain a residency permit.

Refugees and asylum-seekers holding a valid from the central and southern governorates of Iraq are free to move within the governates of centre and south only. Attempting to travel to KRI without proper clearance may subject refugees and asylum-seekers to risks of arrest, detention, and deportation.