The Internal Passports Project is dedicated to the memory of Howard Margol z"l. We thank Howard for discovering this record set on one of his trips to Lithuania.
- UPDATE AUGUST 2016: All Internal Passports for the city of Vilnius have now been translated. We thank all researchers who contributed to the project over the years.
- We are especially grateful to MyHeritage whose very generous contribution allowed us to complete the translations of all city of Vilnius Internal Passports.
- A collection of approximately 5,000 Foreign Passport applications and German era Passport applications were discovered within the files of the Internal Passports in the LCVA (Lithuanian Central State Archives). We have completely translated these Foreign and German Passports.
Internal Passports Project Goal
The Internal Passports Project goal is to translate and create a database of key information from what we estimate are over 190,000 (Jewish) Internal Passports issued by the government of independent Lithuania between 1919 and 1940. The records are organized differently in different geographic areas and LitvakSIG has broken the project out as a Special Project for management and fundraising.
During the period 1919-1940 when Lithuania was an independent country, every Lithuanian citizen age 17 or older was required to have an internal passport or they could be sent back (east) to the USSR / Russia. These internal passports were not issued for the purpose of traveling; rather they served as personal identification documents that entitled the bearer to Lithuanian citizenship.
Thus, in the beginning of the 1920s, all the adult citizens, regardless of age, had to obtain an internal passport. To do so, they had to prove their right to Lithuanian citizenship by producing evidence that they were residents of the territory of Lithuania before World War I.
Later, internal passports were issued to young people coming of age; women when they changed their surnames after marriage; when old passports were lost, etc.
The internal passport itself consisted of four pages with the basic information: given name, surname, date of birth, place of birth, address, nationality, religion, occupation, special traits (if the person had any), family status, inscription about children, the passport numbers, issue date, a photo, the registration stamp of where they lived, and some other short notes.
Many of the Internal Passports files contain photographs as well as additional records — applications, affidavits, copies of birth and marriage certificates, etc. Sometimes, when vital records were missing, extracts from revision and family lists were produced to prove one’s identity and right to Lithuanian citizenship. Even extracts from otherwise currently missing 1858 revision lists have been found in some files.
How You Can Help
This project to create a database of information from these internal passport files is very extensive and of great importance due to the wealth of data included. These are some of the few records that have women’s maiden names, specific places of birth, and other familial relationships indicated.
To contribute, please follow the instructions below.
- To determine the district your shtetl is in, please see the Shtetl Map & List.
- For the city of Vilnius the minimum contribution to access all internal passport data is $100. Simply go to the Contributions Page of this website and select the Special Project button. Click on Internal Passports in the drop down list and enter Vilnius in the notes box. A dedicated website has been created for the City of Vilnius Internal Passport files. It is anticipated there are about 40,000 internal passport files for the city of Vilnius.
- For any shtetl in any other district or in Suwalki Gubernia, simply contribute $100 to the relevant Research Group to gain access to all Internal Passports data for that group. All Internal Passports translated to date (except for the City of Vilnius), are available on the site for the District or Gubernia Research Group.
Thank you for your support. Should you have any questions, please contact the Coordinator of the relevant Research Group or for Vilnius City, contact Eden Joachim.
Update February 2021
The archive remains closed to outside researchers due to the pandemic.
To obtain copies, it is necessary for you to contact the LCVA (Lithuanian Central State Archives) directly with your request. You will have to provide the Name(s) and Archival Reference for each passport you want.
Only entries in the database with an Archival reference of LCVA may be ordered in this manner.
[To order copies of any internal or foreign passport found in our database contact Eden Joachim and provide the Name(s) and Archival Reference. Only entries which reference LCVA can be requested in this way.* Eden will advise you how much to contribute in order to acquire the copies. If the database says "List Only," there are no underlying documents in existence.]
*If a passport entry in the ALD references KRA as the archive location, you must contract the KRA directly.
All emails received will be considered requests for digital images and no images will be provided until payment in the form of a contribution to LitvakSIG is received. We must pay for the archivist’s time to retrieve and digitize the files for you. Please do not request a quote on the cost if you don’t intend to follow up by making the contribution. It creates extra work for all parties involved and still incurs an expense. Thank you for your cooperation.