"Poem about the Soviet passport" was written by Vladimir Mayakovsky in 1929: "I take out of wide pants / Duplicate invaluable cargo. / Read, envy, I am a citizen / of the Soviet Union". However, there was no single passport system in the USSR at that time. It appeared only three years later.
Vladimir Mayakovsky took out a foreign passport from his wide pants. Only civil servants and citizens who were going abroad could boast of such a document. Resolution of the Central Executive Committee and the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR "On Establishment of a Unified Passport System for the USSR and Mandatory Passport Registration" was signed on December 27, 1932 - and it was from this point onwards that the universal passporting began. This decision of the authorities was explained by the need to "register the population, to register it, to fight against the hostile elements settling in our cities and their institutions, which are harmful and ready to harm the cause of our socialist construction more and more".
Since 1933, the passport has become the only document to "prove the identity of the owner". Passports were issued on the same model for the whole country. The only difference was the language of the document - not only Russian, but also the national language was used for citizens of the Union republics.
All forms of passports were printed on Goznak. To protect passports from counterfeiting, the police used special ink when filling out the forms. The photo in the passport appeared only in 1937; at that time a special mastic for seals and stamps for fixing photo cards were introduced. The passports contained the name, patronymic, surname, time and place of birth, nationality, social status, permanent residence and place of work, compulsory military service and documents on the basis of which the passport was issued.
In society, the introduction of the passport system was perceived as very acute. In March 1933, poetess Varvara Malakhieva-Mirovich described the reaction to passporting in this way:
"A good-natured guy in an ear hat with some red notebook under his arm entered the kitchen. I asked him (it was the third day): «what you need?».
- But he came and said: to whom is life, and to whom is coffin.
It turns out that the notice of the day and hour of passporting. What a gigantic neurosis of anxiety, mistrustfulness, nightmare fears ha seized the country in connection with passports. Not to mention those who had every reason to expect to find themselves without bread and shelter - and those who had no such reasons, did not sleep at night, trying to remember whether there is no cousin with an unfavorable questionnaire.
Passports were issued only to residents of cities, persons over 16 years old, by three years. Issuance of passports in Moscow and Leningrad was originally planned to take three months, but then extended to six months. The fear of not getting a passport was justified - if the passport was refused, the citizen had to leave the city within 10 days.
Lubov Shaporina, an artist and translator, wrote in 1933 in her diary: "Where to go man, and especially a woman with children, when she is evicted and driven unknown where a hundred miles from the big cities. Where, to whom, with what, when nowhere the top is free. The practice among workers is as follows: a husband is given a passport, a wife is not and vice versa. There's a family of peasants not far from us. Husband, wife, son and his wife. Everybody got it, except for the young wife. She was given ten days to evict."
It was really impossible to go from the big city to the nearest villages. There was introduced a separate category of "regime" cities and zones around them: around Moscow and Leningrad - 100 km, and around Kharkov - 50 km. Closer this distance, the evicted, released from prisons and exiles had no right to settle. The lack of a passport limited not only the place of residence, but also the very possibility to get a job, because before the introduction of employment books in 1939, passports were marked on the entry to work and dismissal.
In the JSC "Goznak" collection samples of Soviet passports of different years of issue are kept. One of them can be seen in the main exposition of the Russian money museum.