International law recognizes that refugees often don't have the required documents to enter a foreign country

The UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (article 31) and Canadian law (Immigration and Refugee Protection Act s. 133) prohibit governments from penalizing refugees who enter or remain illegally on their territory.

Raoul WallenbergMany Jews fleeing Nazi persecution in the mid-twentieth century used false documents to reach safety and to find protection as refugees. The Swedish protective passports (schutz-passes) distributed by Raoul Wallenberg is one such example. In recognition for his efforts to help smuggle persecuted Jews to safety, Raoul Wallenberg became Canada’s first honourary citizen.

People fleeing persecution often have no choice but to turn to using false documents or smugglers to help them escape. Repressive governments often refuse to issue passports to known political dissidents – or to imprison them if they try to leave the country. Sometimes refugees are stripped of their identification as they flee from conflict or they have no time to collect their official documents before fleeing for safety.

How people arrive in Canada tells us nothing about why they left. To decide if they need our protection we need to know why they left and what dangers they would face if they returned.  We have a refugee determination system to find this out.