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Latvia Internal Passport Database 1919-1940

by Arlene Beare, Paul Cheifitz and Mark Maymind


Between 1919 and 1940 all residents of Latvia over the age of 16 were issued with Internal Passports, as a legal form of identity, in order to travel within the borders of the country. Internal Passports were issued in the place of residence. Initially the applicant filled out a detailed application form and handed it in to the local commissioner involved in issuing these documents. These application forms do not seem to have survived. At least two photographs were included with the application.

The Internal Passport, with photograph, was then issued to the applicant. Later, these forms were tabulated in Internal Passport Issuance Books, where varying amounts of information was included, and the second photograph was affixed. The Internal Passport Issuance Books were maintained by the local authorities and often, but not always, updated when the subject changed their status in some way. Not only do these documents contain vital information relating to their subjects, but in many cases, these are the only surviving photographs of these people, many of whom were victims of the Holocaust.

Dore SOLOVEI, aged 12, applied for an Internal Passport in Rezekne on 28 May 1924. Thus far she is the youngest applicant whom we have noted.

Passports for travel abroad were not used to any great extent before 1920. Many left Latvia without passports or bought documents at the quayside before leaving. Although this collection only refers to Internal Passports, these documents do, very occasionally, contain visas from foreign countries together with entry and exit stamps from these countries.

Family Search in cooperation with the Latvian State Historical Archive have filmed the surviving Internal Passport Issuance Books as well as a collection of Internal Passports handed in to the Riga Police. Arlene Beare and Mark Maymind have completed Internal Passport databases for people connected to Jekabpils and Daugavpils.

Although there are 700,000 surviving records it must be noted that this is only a fraction of the original passports issued between the years 1919-1940.

Latvia Internal Passport Issuance Books Database 1919-1940

Internal Passport Issuance Books survive in varying numbers for the following towns/cities:


Number of Books

Jewish Entries

Indexed by





Arlene Beare








Russ Maurer





Arlene Beare




Gall Richard Yair (In progress)





Paul Cheifitz


Rezekne (district)



Shoshana Grinbaum



Approximately 400


Arlene Beare, Paul Cheifitz, Shoshana Grinbaum, Charlotte Wiener (In progress)

8 Books




Gary Sussman





We are very grateful to Mark Maymind and Shoshana Grinbaum who have edited our database.

Each town/city maintained its own set of Internal Passport Issuance Books. Data entered varies from book to book and place to place. Entries are chronological but some books have date overlaps. Each book usually contains the handwriting of three or four different clerks and the legibility varies greatly. Generally, the clerk appears comfortable with Latvian however some struggle often substituting Russian letters in places. Spellings vary greatly as the Latvian language went through changes in codification. In some areas the Latgalian language was also used. Within a family, often listed in sequence there can be two or three different spellings of the same surname. Each entry in our database is linked to the original document on the FamilySearch website.

We have extracted information under the following headings:


Passport No.


New Married Name


Birth Date


Maiden Name

Birth Place

Family Origin Place

Marital State






Passport Issuance Book:

Riga 31 March 1922. Sara GORDIN. It is noted that she married Mr. HAIKIN in 1923.

Riga 25 March 1922. Neuch GENDEROV. Died 17 May 1922.

Individual entries often contain additional notifications entered when the status of the applicant changed. These include marriages, deaths, cancellation of Latvian citizenship, and cancellation of Internal Passports. Often when a second passport was applied for this is noted in the original entry and a second photograph is affixed to the page. In other cases multiple applications are given their own entry.

Ludza 7 October 1921. Juda-Leiba WIDAN applied for a second Internal Passport on 21 November 1924. It is noted that in 1938 he was “deprived of Latvian Citizenship” as he had left the country illegally.

Latvia Internal Passports handed in to the Riga police 1919-1940

This unique collection of files contains original Internal Passports and related documents collected by the Riga Police during the interwar years. There are approximately 40,000 files extant referring to Jews. Each file usually contains an expired Internal Passport. Passport was carried by the passport holder wherever they went. Each change of address is noted as well as change of civil status, i.e. marriage, birth of children, death. Military service and voting in local and general elections are also recorded. Again, valuable photographs of passport holders are preserved. Due to the nature of these documents and the fact that they were used on a regular basis there is a variance in their quality.

Internal passport database includes Jewish Internal Passport holders who were born, registered, or lived in the City / Town indicated in the table below for some period of time, but later made Riga their home. Thanks to Paul Cheifitz for name editing.

City / Town

Number of Entries

Translated by




Arlene Beare, Mark Maymind




Arlene Beare, Mark Maymind



We have extracted information under the following headings:

SURNAME,  Given Name

Father's Name


Date of Birth

Place of Birth
Place of Origin
Living now


Marital State



LVVA Archival Reference per FHL



Passport Issue Date


Several different passport formats are in this passport collection.

One Page Passport

Faivis Mowsha WIDAN born 3 Nov 1903 Ludza – issued Ludza 15 Nov 1920

Mother Leja KIL, born daughter Haja-Etel and son Leib 7 and 8 Nov 1924 Riga.

Zara REDALJE married Michail Josel STRUNIN 21 Aug 1925 Riga

 Certificate or Identity card with French Translation  

Roche PREIL, daughter of Solem LINDAU– issued Riga 4 January 1922

Internal Passport Book


Born 9 Feb 1871 in Jekabpils, married.

Each time a person moved to a new place to live this was noted with a stamp in the Internal Passport. Using these addresses, one might choose to visit our relative’s home in person or with Google Street View. We can also consult the surviving Riga Household Registers which are in the process of being filmed and placed online and see with whom our relatives were staying. The Government used these records to keep a check on the population and to see where each person was at any given time.  

Registration of new address – Fridrika iela No 3/5, Jurmala on 17 Jun 1929

Each vital civil event is recorded. These references include the stamp of the Rabbinate involved or city civil events registration department together with the date and place on which the event occurred. Often these dates are hard to trace using other records and this might be the only reference to such an event we locate. The names of new spouses can lead us to further documentation. If available, their Internal Passports should also be checked.

Riga civil registry department stamp: Hana MENDELSON married Mendel NODELMAN  15 March 1930 in Riga.

Notation from Riga Rabbinate: Rahele PANC / PANTZ, died on 1 January 1940 in Riga.

Children under the age of 16 are most often listed in their mother’s passports but in some cases in their father’s too.

Children younger than 16 years old: Erachmiel born 24 Nov 1921 Kaunas, Mozus 27 Dec 1925 Kaunas, Mirjam 4 Sep 1930 Riga

Four children of Leib MARKWITZ: daughters Haja, Sora-Riva and Mindel, and son Jankel recorded into mother’s passport.

Nansen Passport

These passports, known as stateless persons passports, were internationally recognized refugee travel documents from 1922 to 1938, first issued by the League of Nations's Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees to stateless refugees.  They became known as Nansen passports as the idea came from the Norwegian statesman and polar explorer  Fridtjof Nansen .

At the end of the first World War Latvians returning to Latvia were stateless as Latvia was now an independent country. The Russian Empire was no longer in existence and the new Soviet Government revoked the citizenship of former Russians living abroad. The passports were in Latvian and French and included descriptions of physical characteristics such as hair and eye colour.

People were able to use these passports while waiting for the results of their application to the Government for citizenship and many were used for years.

Gerson son of Aron KISH, born 4 Apr 1889 Daugavpils apr., merchant.

Married. Includes descriptions of physical characteristics.

Foreign passport  (Arzemes pase)

Foreign Passport for Shmuel DIMENTSTEIN

Born 11 Dec 1889 in Daugavpils.

Each passport file contained many images.  There may be up to 90 images but usually the number of images is 4 to 40 images.

Place of Origin was the place the person (or his/her father) was born in and where they remain registered. This reference to “Registration of Origin” refers back to the system used by Czarist authorities to track families for purposes of taxation and military conscription. The family might have been registered in a town in the late 1700s and never changed their place of registration although they left that town many years before their current passport was issued. As the passports were handed in to the Riga Police it appears that the majority of people were living in Riga at the time they handed them in.  If place names are not recognized then search Google or JewishGen shtetl finder.

Children’s names are occasionally crossed out because they are over the age of 16 and then applied for their own passport. They no longer needed to be in the passport of the parent.

Where there are blanks in the database there is no information in the available documents. Where there is a “?” it is because the writing is illegible.

Some photographs are in poor condition. There is a photograph on the single sheet passport and also one in the new passport book.  This may be the same photo or the person may be older in the new passport. You might also refer back to the Passport Issuance Book to see whether there is a better quality copy of the photo. Some of these records were poorly scanned and the Archive will be able to provide you with a clear scan of the original if this is the case.

The notes contain extra information taken from pages in the passport book and other documents in the file.  Researchers are urged to look at all the images as there are documents in the new passport book that contain additional information that is not in the notes column and may be important to the family member researching.  They need translating as they are either in Latvian or Russian. There are some documents in French that are copies of other documents in the passport.

Searching the Database

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