Latvijas Republikas Iekšlietu Ministrijas
Pilsonības un Migrācijas Lietu Pārvalde
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pases_karalaika.gifThe passport system originated in France. In 1672 Louis XIV forbade his subjects to leave France or foreigners to enter France without passports. When translated from French “passport” or from Italian “passo”, the word means “a step, a chance to go through”. 
In the Russian Empire, the year 1719 during the reign of Peter the Great is regarded as a beginning of the passport system. In European countries the main task of the passport system was to ensure peace and order, whereas in Russia apart from the above functions the passport served also as a means to oversee the control of tax payments, military service and other duties regulated by the state.

pases_uljmanlaika.gifThe passport system of the Russian Empire was in force in Latvia until 1919. Passports were issued to people who traveled within the country outside of their permanent place of residence. 

During the years of Latvia’s independence the passport system was determined by special regulations established in 1927 with subsequent amendments, as well as special instructions of the Ministry of Interior. The regulations stated that every citizen, with the exception of those doing military service, had to have a foreign or domestic passport as an identification document. Passports were issued to everybody over 16 years of age; children under 16 were registered in passports of their parents. Under special circumstances and with permission of their parents or guardians, children under 16 could receive their own passports.

pases_2lidz53.gifAfter World War II Latvia adopted the passport system of the USSR. Two types of passports were being issued – a regular passports and a foreign passport for traveling abroad. When Latvia regained its independence in 1991 it had to decide what type of identification documents its citizens will use both their homeland and for traveling abroad. 
A compromise decision was reached – Latvia would continue using the existing documents that had been issued before, as well as issue of the former USSR passports that were available in the Ministry of Interior. At the same time a project of designing identification documents for the citizens of Latvia got started. A political decision was taken to design three types of passports – a passport of a citizen of Latvia, a diplomatic passport and an travelling document of a stateless person. 
The duration of the project was short and the funding allocated for the project was limited, therefore the design of the passports is simple, yet the security elements, though few, are adequate for the general standards of those times. Passports were personalized and issued in 37 offices within Latvia as well as in the biggest representation offices in foreign countries.

pases_cccp_vaks02.gifThe first passports of citizens of Latvia were issued on 4 July 1992. Issuance of passports and work related to it in May of 1994 passed from the charge of the police to the charge of the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs.One of the reasons was the concept that the passport system must be closely linked with Population Register that has been in subordination of the Office since it was developed. At the same time the inhabitants of Latvia who were not citizens of Latvia had to be provided with identification documents. Unfortunately, for various political reasons the legal status of these persons was defined by the legislation only on 12 April 1995 by adopting the law “On the Status of Those Former USSR Citizens Who are not Citizens of Latvia or Any Other Country”.

By 1994 the Ministry of Interior of Latvia was short of the former USSR passports which non-citizens could use for traveling to foreign countries, therefore identification cards of stateless persons with a stamped mark on the person’s status were adjusted for needs of these persons. There were difficulties to harmonize before these documents were accepted for international use. The issued cards were valid for a period of two years. Altogether 75 750 identification cards were issued from the year 1995 until 9 April 1997.

pases_cccp_vaks01.gifAlongside with it work on designing new non-citizen passports started. “Canadian Bank Note Company” was the winner of the tender on manufacturing of non-citizen passports and development of personalization system. The contract with the Company was concluded on 7 November 1995. Issuance of non-citizen passports started on 10 April 1997. Usage of the former USSR inland passports was stopped as of 31 March 2000.

By 1996 it was obvious that the 1992 standard passports of Latvian citizens did not comply with the modern requirements of passport security – protection from the document security point was incomplete, particularly protection against content changes of the main data page. On 1 September 1998 the first tender on production and delivery of new Latvian passports was announced. However, the offer of the bidder chosen by the tender commission was rejected by the Cabinet of Ministers. 

pases_arzemju_vaks.gifBy the Cabinet of Ministers decision of 14 December 1999 the identification document system was conceptually divided: a travel document to foreign countries and identification cards to individuals for domestic use. Only the results of the third tender were approved by the Cabinet of Ministers on 26 May 2000. The German company “Giesecke & Devrient” was recognized as the winner of the tender on Passport Production.

The passports have been designed in compliance with the year 1999 recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the recommendations of 17 October 2000 of the Council of European Union as regards passport content and structure and document security.

After accession to the European Union several EU legislative acts became binding for Latvia, inter alia, the European Union Council Regulations No 2252/2004 and the Resolution adopted by the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States of the European Communities, which stipulate that the Member States of the European Union shall introduce the passports of uniform format by incorporating the biometrical data corresponding to the highest security standards of the passports. 
Already in the nearest time Latvia will initiate the issuance of passports of which incorporated microchips will contain the person’s identification information – facial image and fingerprints. These features will correspond to the European Union and international security requirements and security requirements set by the institutions of the Republic of Latvia. 

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