Union of South Africa Passport issued in1923

Union of South Africa Passport 1923

If you see this precious piece you could think the passport is covered in Elephant leather (which is of course not the case). Meet Shopkeeper David Weinberg, born in Lithuania in 1894. His Union of South Africa Passport was issued in Pretoria on 19th November 1923 and that makes the document today 90 years old. As you all know I do collecting for quite a while but believe me a Union of South Africa Passports is something special and not at all common.

Especially look at the travels David did.

  • Lithuanian visa issued in Hamburg 1924
  • German visa issued in Pretoria 1923
  • Look at the Lithuanian and the South African Revenues (!)
  • British Passport Office in Riga – Visa for Palestine 1925 (via Germany, Italy, France, Romania)
  • German visa 1925 issued in Riga
  • Government of Palestine issued in Jaffa 1925
  • and finally, his visa back to South Africa via Egypt issued in Jerusalem in 1925

What a journey for this young man at age 30.









The Union of South Africa is the historic predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into being on 31 May 1910 with the unification of four previously separate British colonies: the CapeNatalTransvaal, and Orange River colonies. It included the territories formerly part of the Boer republics annexed in 1902, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State.

Following the First World War, the Union of South Africa was granted the administration of South West Africa (formerly a German colony and today the sovereign state of Namibia) as a League of Nations mandate, which became treated in most respects as if it were another province of the Union, but never was formally annexed.

The Union of South Africa was a self-governing autonomous dominion of the British Empire. Its independence from Britain was confirmed in the Balfour Declaration 1926 and the Statute of Westminster 1931. It was governed under a form of constitutional monarchy, with the Crown represented by a governor-general. The Union came to an end with the enactment of a new constitution on 31 May 1961, by which it became a republic and left the Commonwealth, under the new name Republic of South Africa.

Union of South Africa Passport 1923


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  1. Good day, the person mentioned in this passport is my Great Grandfather. I am trying to acquire additional information on him as I would like to try and apply for Lithuanian Citizenship. Is there any way I can be put in touch with the person who now owns this passport? Or is there a way to get a higher resolution copy of the passport?

    I would greatly appreciate any feedback.

    1. Hello Juan,
      The article is from 2018 and I don’t have this document anymore but I am glad to provide you with larger pictures by email. Best, Tom

  2. Interesting! I have my father’s passport (Victor Umberto Martinaglia) number 76759/11 issued on the 14th January 1928 by the Governor General signed Athlone, stating on page 1, that he was a British subject by birth. My father was born on the 10th January, 1909 in Randfontein, Transvaal. Passport was valid 14th January 1933. He travelled to join his two brothers who had started a mining business in Tanzania (Tanganyika) arriving on the 9th February , 1928 at Mombasa, and then thereafter on the 17th February, 1928 at Musoma. Passport is in very good condition, and contains a visa to visit the Portugese colonies.

  3. Fascinating!
    Makes me wonder….
    When were the first passports issued in the various areas that is now known as the Republic of South Africa?
    What did the passports issued in the colonies of the Cape and Natal look like?
    Did the the Republic of the Orange Free State issue it’s own passport?
    Did the the Republic of the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek issue it’s own passport?
    For a period of time (before the 2nd ABW) the Transvaal was under British rule and/or administration. Which passports were issued then?
    After the 2nd ABW and up to becoming a Union in 1910?

    Lol, many more questions..

    1. Hello Reaon, good questions. Many African countries belonged to the British Empire and hence had British territory passports. I have never seen passport types for these territories, but I have seen Transvaal, which is super rare! Cheers, Tom

      1. Thank you for your reply, Tom.
        I have my hands on a 1930 Brittish passport issued to a person in the then Belgian Congo, who was born in Angola and later lived in South Africa. A hand-written note in the passport states that he was the son of a British-born father. I am still trying to figure out how this came about (his family name is Diedericks, an Afrikaans name of Dutch origin). His father died in the then Transvaal (I do not yet know where he was born), and it appears that his grandfather died in the Belgian Congo. Perhaps they were born in any of the British South African colonies and hence the note “British born”. Therefore all the questions:-)

          1. Birth in any colony meant “British-born”, as you suggest. It referred to the legal status of the place in which you were born. My grandfather was born in the Cape Colony and was also “British-born”. As far as I recall, there were two colours of passport issued in the UK itself, one for foreign-born (people who were naturalised) and others for British-born. If you were born in South Africa, for example, and were in Britain and needed a new passport, you could just take your birth certificate from South Africa and present it to the Home Office and get a British-born passport of the non-naturalised variety. British subject referred to nationality and not citizenship.

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