Nansen Passport with Stamps


The Nansen passport was a certificate issued by the Nansen International Office for Refugees as an international substitute for a passport, which allowed stateless persons or those deprived of their national passports to enter and transit other countries. The Nansen office was the successor to the first international agency dealing with refugees, the High Commission for Refugees, established in June 1921 by the League of Nations under the direction of the Norwegian explorer and statesman Fridtjof Nansen (1861–1930). The League Secretariat had assumed responsibility for international refugees and stateless persons and charged the Nansen office with carrying out its responsibilities in this area. Chronically short of the funds needed to sustain its own operations and provide assistance to refugees, the Nansen office financed itself partly through private contributions, but mainly from fees charged for the Nansen certificate and from the proceeds of the sale of stamps in France and Norway. The document shown here is a Nansen certificate with Nansen stamps as visas, used to enable a refugee from Russia or Armenia to travel. It is preserved in the archives of the League of Nations, which were transferred to the United Nations in 1946 and are housed at the UN office in Geneva. The archives were inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World register in 2010.

Last updated: May 24, 2017