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Montenegrin passports

Prepared by Aleksandar Rakovic, translated in English by Danica Ninic

[ Note: For the Serbs and other South Slavs nationality is the synonym of ethnicity ]

During the first half of the XIX century, Montenegrin passports showed name and surname of its owners, place of birth, destination, reason for the trip, and its duration. At the beginning of the second half of the XIX century, new entries were made such as religion and physical features of the passport holders. With the exception of Bishop Vasilije's rule, mid-XVIII century, there was neither a column for nationality in the Montenegrin passports nor the word "nationality" was ever written by hand. As we can see from the passport facsimiles below, certain claims that Montenegrin passports showed "nationality Montenegrin” were absolutely not true. During the existence of independent Montenegrin state, Montenegrins were always claiming to be Serbs as per their nationality, emphasizing their leading role in the Serb nationhood.

At mid-XVIII century, during Prince-bishop Vasilije Petrovic Njegos, passports issued in Montenegro had the following entries: citizenship - Montenegrin, nationality - Serb, religion - Eastern Orthodox (in Serbian: drzavljanstvo - crnogorsko, nacionalnost - srpska, vjera - istocno pravoslavna).[1]

Prince-bishop Petar I Petrovic Njegos issued travel documents labelled Paseport. For instance such a travel document was issued on 20th of September 1798 to Ivan Savic, for the purpose of travelling to Zadar and reason for the trip.[2]

During the rule of Prince-bishop Petar II Petrovic Njegos, concerning travelling abroad, Montenegrins were using a Travel Pass Letter which featured the holders’ birthplace. In such a Travel Pass Letter by a priest named Stefan Ivanovic who was travelling to Kotor, it was stated - by birth from Njegusi, Montenegrin (in Serbian: rodom iz Njegusa, Crnogorac). [picture]

Later, also during Petar II Petrovic's reign, travel documents had their name changed to Montenegrin Passport. In the one held by Marko Vrbica, who also travelled to Kotor, it was also said - by birth from Njegusi, Montenegrin (in Serbian: rodom iz Njegusa, Crnogorac). [picture]

Priest Stefan Ivanovic was travelling to Kotor with a passport issued during the rule of Prince Danilo Petrovic Njegos. It showed that the owner was from Zalaz, by birth Montenegrin, of Orthodox faith, followed by the information about the owner's physical features (in Serbian: iz Zalaza, rodom Crnogorac, vjeroispovijesti pravoslavne). [picture]

The travel document for Greece, held by Jakov Kovacevic from Ljesanska Nahija and issued during the rule of Prince Nikola Petrovic Njegos, among other particularities about personal description, stated that the owner was of Orthodox faith (in Serbian: vjeroispovijesti pravoslavne). [picture]

The Montenegrin government in exile was issuing passports of unchanged conception. Therefore, the passport of Ilija Lopicic, from april 1919, among other facts showed that the owner had Orthodox confession of faith. (in Serbian: vjeroispovijesti pravoslavne).[3]

[1] Oslobodjenje, nezavisnost i ujedinjenje Srbije i Crne Gore; Milic F. Petrovic, Pavle Stojkovic, Zajednicki istorijski koreni kao faktori ujedinjenja Srbije i Crne Gore, Beograd 1999, str. 93.
[2] Vlado Gojnic, Crnogorci u americkim rudokopima, Cetinje, 1999, str 39.
[3] Aleksandar Stamatovic, Istorijske osnove nacionalnog identiteta Crnogoraca 1918-1953, Beograd 2000, str. 116.