Greek refugee passport = full healthcare in Germany?

No. Registered refugees in Greece can apply for a blue refugee passport that allows them to travel to other European countries including Germany for up to 90 days without a visa, but only if they have enough money for their stay and return trip. And even then, they are not entitled to full medical services or asylum in Germany. 

There is a rumour going around in Athens: “Many refugees here apply for the blue Greek refugee passports with the text ‘1951 Geneva convention’ on the cover”, says a source at the United Nations Refugee Agency UNHCR on site. “These people think that upon obtaining a passport, they would be able to legally travel to Germany and immediately access full medical services upon arrival.”

This story holds a grave problem: Only a small part of it is true. Registered refugees with a passport issued by an EU member state may indeed travel within the European Union without requiring a visa, but only if they meet the entry conditions: They must prove that they have enough money to pay for their expenses during the trip and for the return back to their country of residence – Greece in this case. And even if they are allowed to Germany, they will find that “free full healthcare” is a rumour: In Germany, refugees travelling with the 1951 Geneva passport are excluded from social benefits – by law.

Entering Germany without sufficient financial means and with the intention to get medical treatment at government expense is against the law and may have legal consequences. As a rule, only a long-term right of residence entitles to full social and medical benefits. Persons who entered Germany without sufficient financial means may only receive health care at an absolute minimum level, which does not compare to standard social benefits for residents.

Medical care at a greek transit camp @ dpa

Registered refugees in Greece should be aware that the Greek medical system offers them first care at no cost.

No shortcut to asylum status in Germany

Very importantly, refugees travelling to Germany or another European country on the blue refugee passport also need to know that they cannot apply for asylum there. If they do, their application will be denied immediately and they will be asked to go back to the country where they were registered as a refugee – Greece in this case. If they do not leave Germany on their own, they may be returned by force.