In Imperial Russia (as in other states) passports were required for interior travel. They were issued to individuals and had a finite duration. I'm guessing that being found away from home without a passport was a crime.

A letter from Natalia Shelikhova says state peasants usually got 3-year passports. Russian-American Company employees, who had to travel farther, used 7-year passports. According to G.A. Miller's Kodiak Kreol, these were issued at Irkutsk to those that had "travel papers and passports from their home regions". Irkutsk is not very close to Russian America, so perhaps it was a rather high functionary that was writing the documents; the distinction between passports and "travel papers" is not clear to me.

Around 1800, which officials were empowered to write passports, and which officials would ever demand them of travelers?

1 Answer 1


The passports were issued by police departments and checked mainly by police officers. In the Empire, not everyone needed a passport, only those who traveled and who lived in cities. (Peasants who did not travel did not have them). When you arrived to a city you had to register your passport with the police department, to obtain a "residence registration" stamped in your passport. It could be temporary or permanent.

The same system existed in Soviet Union since the 1930's. Only in the 1960's were passports given to all citizens and became mandatory for all older than 16; and this is still the case, at least in most post Soviet states.

Passports could and can be checked by all sorts of other officials. For example, one had to show one when checking in a hotel or buying a railroad ticket.


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