Friday, February 5, 2010

May I See Your Documents?

While Russians may have fewer of many things that Americans (money, shoes, cars, etc.) passports are not one of them. This is because Russians have not one but TWO passports. I’ll give you the rundown on official Russian documents, because I frequently find myself having to explain the details of this overwhelmingly fascinating topic.

Every Russian is supposed to have an internal passport, which according to the RF is “the main document proving the identity of a Russian citizen in the Russian Federation territory.” You apply and renew your passport at 14, 20, and 45. It contains all that basic bio-demo info like name, gender, DOB, and place of birth. However, it also includes your place of registration (permanent address), marriage(s)/divorce(s), children under 14, notes about the issue of a travel passport, military service, tax id (optional), and blood-type (optional).You can even use it to travel to some exotic places like Kazakhstan.

For travel to most other countries, Russians need at least their travel, or external, passport. It’s the passport Russians need when exiting and entering Russia. Works much like a US passport—exit/entry stamps, visas, etc. Renewed every five years. Those under 14 don’t have their own passport, but are instead included in one of their parents’ travel passport. As of March 2010, all new external passports will be biometric (with an electronic chip).

Easy enough to explain, right? Now trying explaining the system of passports, state id’s, and drivers’ licenses to someone who’s not from the US.


  1. Good luck with that:) will be interesting to what happens if I were to get dual citizenship...that would make it three lovely passports I would need to carry around while traveling. Great! the more, the merrier.

    (this is Diana btw)

  2. Nah, just two. I'm going to look into whether you can carry a notarized copy of an internal passport as id, rather than the actual thing.