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Passport system in the Soviet Union

Passport system in the Soviet Union

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The Soviet passport is an identity document issued upon the laws of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for the citizen of the USSR. For the general purposes of identity certification Soviet passports contained such data as name, date of birth, sex, place of birth, nationality and citizenship etc. as well as the photo of passport holder. At different stages of development of the Soviet passport system
Passport system in the Soviet Union
The Soviet passport is an identity document issued upon the laws of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for the citizen of the USSR. For the general purposes of identity certification Soviet passports contained such data as name, date of birth, sex, place of birth, nationality and citizenship...

 they could also contain information on: place of work, social status (marriage, children) and some other supporting information needed for those agencies and organizations to which the Soviet citizens used to appeal.


History


The passport system of the Soviet Union underwent a number of transformations in the course of its history. In the late Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 citizens of age sixteen or older had to have an internal passport
Internal passport
An internal passport is an identity document used in some countries to control the internal movement and residence of its people. Countries that currently have internal passports include Russia, Ukraine, China and North Korea...

. In addition, a passport for travel abroad  was required for travel abroad. There were several types of abroad passport: an ordinary one, known simply as "USSR zagranpasport", a civil service passport , a diplomatic passport, and a sailor's passport.

Internal passports were serviced by "passport offices" of local offices of the MVDs of Soviet republics. Abroad passports were handled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the corresponding Soviet republic.

Internal passports were used in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 for identification of persons for various purposes. In particular, passports were used to control and monitor the place of residence by means of propiska
Propiska
Propiska was both a residence permit and migration recording tool in the Russian Empire before 1917 and from 1930s in the Soviet Union. It was documented in local police registers and certified with a stamp in internal passports....

. Officially, propiska was introduced for statistical reasons: since in the planned economy
Planned economy
A planned economy is an economic system in which decisions regarding production and investment are embodied in a plan formulated by a central authority, usually by a government agency...

 of the Soviet Union the distribution of goods and services was centralized, the overall distribution of population was to be monitored. For example, a valid propiska was necessary to receive higher education or be employed.

The passports recorded the following information: surname, first name and patronymic
Patronymic
A patronym, or patronymic, is a component of a personal name based on the name of one's father, grandfather or an even earlier male ancestor. A component of a name based on the name of one's mother or a female ancestor is a matronymic. Each is a means of conveying lineage.In many areas patronyms...

, date and place of birth, nationality, family status, propiska
Propiska
Propiska was both a residence permit and migration recording tool in the Russian Empire before 1917 and from 1930s in the Soviet Union. It was documented in local police registers and certified with a stamp in internal passports....

, and record of military service. Sometimes the passport also had special notes, for example blood group.

As mentioned, the internal passports identified every bearer by nationality , e.g., Russian, Ukrainian, Uzbek, Estonian, Jew. This was on the so-called "fifth record" of the passport. When an individual applied for his passport at age 16, his nationality would automatically be that of his parents if they were of the same nationality as one another (verified by the recorded nationality of the parents on the applicant's birth certificate). If they differed in nationality (again, based on the parents' nationality on the child's birth certificate), then the applicant would have to choose between the two nationalities. In this way an individual's passport nationality was fixed for life at age 16.

All residents were required by law to record their address on the document, and to report any changes to a local office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (e.g., by the age of forty-five, a person has to have three photograph
Photograph
A photograph is an image created by light falling on a light-sensitive surface, usually photographic film or an electronic imager such as a CCD or a CMOS chip. Most photographs are created using a camera, which uses a lens to focus the scene's visible wavelengths of light into a reproduction of...

s of himself in the passport due to the effects of aging, taken at the age of sixteen (when it is issued), twenty-five and forty-five). In Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 kmĀ², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, these laws were abolished by its Constitutional Court
Constitutional Court of Ukraine
The Constitutional Court of Ukraine is the sole body of constitutional jurisdiction in Ukraine. The Constitutional Court of Ukraine interprets the Constitution of Ukraine and decides whether laws and other legal acts are constitutional....

 in 2001 on the grounds of unconstitutionality. In Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, similar cases have so far failed, and the system remains in place, although largely reduced. The system of internal passport registration remains strongly in place in Moscow, which uses the recent terrorist attacks on that city as a justification for their continued use.

See also

  • Russian passport
    Russian passport
    Russian passports are of two types: domestic passports issued to citizens of Russia for the purpose of certifying identity, international passports are issued for the purpose of international travel.- Internal passport :...

  • Passport system in the Soviet Union
    Passport system in the Soviet Union
    The Soviet passport is an identity document issued upon the laws of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for the citizen of the USSR. For the general purposes of identity certification Soviet passports contained such data as name, date of birth, sex, place of birth, nationality and citizenship...

  • Eastern Bloc emigration and defection
    Eastern Bloc emigration and defection
    Eastern Bloc emigration and defection was a point of controversy during the Cold War. After World War II, emigration restrictions were imposed by countries in the Eastern Bloc, which consisted of the Soviet Union and its satellite states in Eastern and Central Europe...

  • 101st kilometre
    101st kilometre
    101st kilometre is a colloquial name for the law restricting freedom of movement in the Soviet Union.In the Soviet Union, the rights of an inmate released from the prison would typically still be restricted for a long period of time...

  • Propiska
    Propiska
    Propiska was both a residence permit and migration recording tool in the Russian Empire before 1917 and from 1930s in the Soviet Union. It was documented in local police registers and certified with a stamp in internal passports....


External links

V.Popov, Passport System of Soviet Serfage, "New World" , Issue 6, 1996