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Migration and Home Affairs


The assisted or independent return to the country of origin, transit or third country, based on the free will of the returnee.


IOM Glossary on Migration, 2019 ed.


  • BG: доброволно връщане
  • CS: dobrovolný návrat
  • DE: freiwillige Rückkehr
  • EL: εθελούσια επιστροφή
  • EN: voluntary return
  • ES: retorno voluntario
  • ET: vabatahtlik tagasipöördumine
  • FI: vapaaehtoinen paluu
  • FR: retour volontaire
  • GA: filleadh deonach
  • HR: dragovoljni povratak
  • HU: önkéntes hazatérés
  • IT: ritorno volontario / rimpatrio volontario
  • LT: savanoriškas grįžimas
  • LV: brīvprātīga atgriešanās
  • MT: Ritorn volontarju
  • NL: vrijwillige terugkeer
  • PL: dobrowolny powrót
  • PT: retorno voluntário
  • RO: returnare voluntară
  • SK: dobrovoľný návrat
  • SL: prostovoljna vrnitev / prostovoljno vračanje
  • SV: frivilligt återvändande
  • NO: frivillig retur (b); friviljug retur (n) / assistert retur
  • KA: ნებაყოფლობითი დაბრუნება
  • UK: добровільне повернення
  • HY: կամավոր վերադարձ


  • voluntary repatriation

Broader Term(s)

Narrower Term(s)

Related Term(s)


1. The term is different from ‘voluntary departure’ and, with voluntary departure, ultimately there will be an obligation to return.
2. The types of persons returning without the assistance of the State include those who: a) would be under no (legal) obligation to do so. As stated in the definition, it is entirely their decision as to whether they return or not; b) are irregularly resident and have not (yet) been apprehended/detected (e.g. overstayers), but who decide to return anyway; c) have applied to stay (e.g. asylum seeker, person applying for international protection) and whose application has not yet been finalised, but decide to return anyway.
3. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) prefers the term ‘voluntary repatriation’.