How many foreign passports do Russians receive and how does this affect travel?

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Association of Tour Operators 23 November 2022 19:16

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation announced data on the issuance of foreign passports in January-October 2022. The media hastened to describe the situation as an "unprecedented increase in demand" for such a service. Have you checked whether Russians have never been issued so many passports and is there a direct relationship between the number of documents and the number of trips? Spoiler – no, that's not how it works at all.

RUSSIANS HAVE ALREADY ISSUED 4.35 MILLION FOREIGN PASSPORTS, BUT THIS IS NOT A RECORD

In the first 10 months of 2022, Russians issued 4.35 million foreign passports, according to data published on the portal of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation.

And, indeed, this is more than a third higher than in 2021, when our compatriots received 3.2 million such documents, and 80% more than in 2020, when 2.4 million foreign passports were issued over the same period.

We have studied in what quantities Russians have received foreign passports annually over the past two decades. And we have identified some direct dependencies. But not at all as the media hastened to describe.

For example, in 2019, which was "fat" for tourism and international aviation, when Russians set records for the number of foreign trips, foreign passports were issued by 10% less than in 2018, when Russians received 4.5 million foreign passports in the first 10 months of the year.

THE REAL BOOM IN DEMAND FOR FOREIGN PASSPORTS WAS 10 YEARS AGO

But 2018 was not a record for a decade. For example, according to the RIA Novosti news agency, which refers to the FMS press service, in 2012, about 7 million foreign passports were issued in the country during the year, of which 4.8 million were only new at that time biometric.

"The number of Russians applying for foreign passports is increasing from year to year. For example, in 2004, only 2.7 million such documents were issued," the agency interlocutor said at the time.

Russians received 3 million foreign passports (that is, more than in 2020 or 2016) in 2010, when they just started issuing biometric ones.

That is, the real "boom" was right then. And it is logical to assume that passports issued in 2012 for ten years began to expire en masse not at some other time, namely in 2022. 

In addition, the two previous "covid" years, obviously, did not encourage tourists to go to update documents in advance. And in 2019, few people could have thought of changing a document with a validity period until 2022.

 

THE TOTAL NUMBER OF RUSSIANS WITH FOREIGN PASSPORTS REMAINS STABLE

In general, no matter how many studies have been conducted on this subject, the share of Russians with a foreign passport, just after the real boom in 2012, remains relatively stable – at the level of plus/minus 30%.

And the statistics of real trips abroad and the use of international air transport do not reveal a direct dependence on the interest of Russians in obtaining foreign passports – it simply grew exponentially with some failed, or rather, "stagnant" years until 2019. And then the coronavirus happened and the data ceased to be relevant to the economic situation.

The media observing the dynamics of the process also note that the redistribution of demand for the service of issuing passports is not uniform throughout the year: spikes occurred in March and October, where October is really amazing – after the summer season, there are usually fewer people willing to update documents. The media hastened to link such interest in the service with the geopolitical situation.

While not denying the potential relationship, travel industry experts still remind that, compared with the number of trips directly, the fact of obtaining foreign passports reflects market and economic trends to a much lesser extent. The mood in society – maybe. But not the economic situation and not even the interest in foreign travel, which is converted into a real trip abroad.

And passports in 2022 went to be massively changed for a much simpler reason – they were issued for the most part in 2012 and now their validity period has ended.


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