Voluntary Return

***Voluntary Return Freephone *** 1800 406 406

IOM Ireland provide a Voluntary Return programme that is open to migrants from non-EEA countries, who wish to return home voluntarily but do not have the means, including the necessary documentation, to do so. IOM Ireland can assist with obtaining the necessary travel documentation, as well as covering the financial costs of the travel from Ireland to the country of origin. In addition, a small reintegration grant is available to all returnees to help cover the costs of an income generating activity, such as education; professional training and/or business set-up.


Freephone 1800 406 406

 IOM 2012 Poster

Who can apply for the Voluntary Assisted Return Programme?

IOM offers assistance to asylum seekers and other non-EEA migrants who want to return permanently to their country of origin but do not have the means and/ or travel documentation to do so.

What are the benefits of the programme?

The objective of the Voluntary Assisted Return Programme is to help individuals to return to their home country in an orderly and dignified way. Whenthey are assisted by IOM,they travel in the same way as any other passenger. The reasons fortheir stay in Ireland andtheir return will remain confidential and will not be shared with anybody outside of the voluntary return process.

Does voluntary return affect a future possibility to re-enter the countrylegally?

Ifthey return voluntarily before a deportation order is made andthey have no outstanding criminal court proceedings in Ireland,they may apply to re-enter Ireland legally for the purpose of work, study, etc.

Willtheir passport or travel documents be stamped by an Irish Immigration Officer?

Ifthey return through IOM's programme,their passport will not be stamped when leaving Ireland.

What is the procedure?

First,they fill in the application form and sign a declaration of voluntary return.

  • WhenIOM receivetheir application,they willsend the details to the Department of Justice and Equality and tell them thatthey have applied to return under the Voluntary Assisted Return Programme.
  • The Department of Justice and Equality will need to approve every applicant who applies for return under the programme.
  • Iftheir application has been approved, andthey do not hold a valid Travel Document issued bytheir country of origin, IOM shall assist, where possible, in obtaining the necessary documentation to facilitatetheir return journey.
  • IOMwill then discuss withthem suitable dates on whichthey would wish to travel and make the necessary travel arrangements. IOM does not provide a service at weekends, therefore travel dates must be weekdays. Bearing in mind that IOM assists many returnees per week,their return must fit in with the IOM schedule. IOM will strive to meet the timeframethey propose, however this may not always be possible.
  • IOMwill then provisionally book a ticket fortheir travel and arrange any transit visas for the countriesthey travel through, if necessary.
  • IOMwill meetthem at the airport of departure in Ireland and assistthem in departing.
  • IOMcan also arrange assistance in transit and on arrival intheir home country if requested.

If they apply for return under the VARP, how does it affecttheir asylum application?

VARP is funded by the Department of Justice and Equality, which decides whether a VARP applicant is suitable for return under the programme.

Ifa VARPapplicantdecides thatthey want to returnthey will have to withdrawtheir asylum claim prior to applying for Voluntary Return in order for the Department of Justice and Equality to considertheir application.They will also be requested to sign a declaration of voluntary return, which safeguards the voluntary nature of their return.

Ifthey changetheir mind about leaving Ireland at any stage beforetheir departure, andthey would like to re-enter the asylum system,they should seek legal advice about options available to them.

What happens whenthey arrive intheir country of origin?

Ifthey need assistance from IOM at the airport intheir country of origin,IOM can arrange this. In some countries IOM has no representation; therefore airport arrival assistance may not be possible.If it is a long distance from the airport totheir final destination, the local IOM office can providethem with tickets fortheir onward journey.

How much luggage can they bring?

That depends on the airlinethey travel with. The average luggage allowance is 20kg. Ifthey bring morethey will have to pay.Excess luggage is very expensive.IOM is not responsible for, and will not pay for any excess luggage. Ifthey misstheir flight because of excess luggage issues, IOM will most likely NOT be in a position to purchase a second flight ticket for them.

IOMsuggest thatthey organise a cargo shipment oftheir excess luggage well in advance as it is much cheaper. Airlines will not accept any item of luggage that weighs more than 32 kg per adult. IOM will informthem in advance oftheir travel of whattheir exact luggage allowance will be. For some destinations it is possible to have a slightly higher baggage allowance.

How long will it take to organisetheir return travel?

IOM always aims to meet the needs of returnees and to find the most appropriate routes of return. On average the timeframe for the return is 3-6 weeks. It is dependent on various factors such as Department of Justice and Equality approval, availability of commercial flights, obtaining documentation, and any special needs to be taken into consideration for the return travel.

For more info, and to download an application form (Available in 8 languages) please visit IOM's website here