Spanish Passport History explained by a fellow collector

Today I am glad to introduce Félix Álvarez – a passionate Spanish fellow collector who kindly provides the following article about Spanish Passport History. Thank you for your contribution, Felix.

I’m a very recent collector; I have only been collecting since 2009. In the beginning I started to collect a wide range of identification documents including all Spanish personal identification documents (ID’s) and travel documents (TD’s), produced during the nineteenth and twenty centuries. Obviously this was a nightmare. But why exactly? Because nowadays you can’t differentiate between ID’s and TD’s:

For example: Is the Spanish “Documento Nacional de Identidad” (ID) only an ID, or is it also a TD? According to European Council regulations, nationals can travel without passports if they can provide a national ID. On the other hand, there is the logical question: Is the Spanish ID a passport? I’m afraid it is not.

Finally I decided to split my proposed collection and to reach multiples targets:

  1. Spanish ID’s before 1951.
  2. The Spanish ID from 1951 and their evolution.
  3. Spanish safe-conducts from 1936 to 2010. The starting point is 1936, as the Spanish Civil War began in that year.
  4. Spanish colonial documents. As you well know, Spain was a colonial empire from the fifteenth century onwards. Different territories achieved independence during the nineteenth century and the process ended in 1968 (Equatorial Guinea). Spain was also responsible for the Morocco Protectorate (North Africa) in combination with French authorities.
  5. Spanish passports from the eighteenth century till today. Only civil passports without reference to military and/or diplomatic figures. This area has two major parts: 1741-1920 and 1920-2009. 1741 was the first year that a Spanish civil person could be provided with a personal passport. 1920, obviously, because the Conference on Passports, Custom Formalities and Through Tickets held in Paris (October 1920) establishing the international criteria for expedition and control of passports and visas took place.
  6. Another piece of the puzzle is the period between 1936-1939, the Spanish Civil War. Then, both the government and the rebels extended passports. However, one must be very careful in checking these documents. Some sellers try to sell common items as “diamonds” but, to tell you the truth, it’s difficult to find said “diamonds”, as Spanish authorities swept archives, libraries and personal collections during the 1939-1975 period with the purpose and result of destroying most of them. Now is much more complicated to find a “masterpiece”.

I have around three or four hundred ID’s and TD’s, but only a few are strictly speaking passports, probably 40, not more.

In parallel I decided to collect legal regulations, books and articles related to all of them, and I’m trying to write several histories about each type of document (“Documento Nacional de Identidad”, passport, safe-conduct, etc.). I have around 900 pdf files, papers and articles linked with the Spanish ID “Documento Nacional de Identidad”, and another 450 related to passports and similar.

In my opinion a wide knowledge about regulations of each type of ID or TD is essential. I believe that it is the foundation of any collection. Only after reading and studying can one understand the reasons, bases and changes in both regulations and documents. I researched deeply this area, including minor regulations, and that study provided me a clear picture of very interesting minutiae. After studying the documentation found, I became a stricter collector, refusing more than 95% of the items offered to me. It’s difficult to combine regulations, articles, history and samples to produce an abridgement with some images and links in order to provide a clearer picture of a document and it history.

How many different types of Spanish passport can I identify? I can probably identify no more than two hundred, including all the minor differences. I’ll try to explain to you in more detail my personal classification in the next articles, including four levels: basic, medium, major and “museum”. Each level will include regulations, dates and images of passports.

Finally, I don’t know how many passport collectors there are in Spain: ten, a hundred? In the last two years I get notices from (through the Internet), and track about five o six persons, most of them also sellers. I have no personal contact with them and I don’t know anything about them.

Now I’m trying to look for other collectors, writers or readers interested in this issue. Flea markets, antique dealers, exhibitions and the internet are all part of the battle field, the only objective: more and better passports.

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