Chancery / Foreign Office Rights (II)

English language

(Part II of II) Passports are of all times. Thousands of years ago salesmen and Royal messengers were provided a laissez-passer signed by their head of state with the request to other heads of states to “let this civilian pass your borders and travel your country with peace”. End 18th century the French instituted the first census, the registration duty and the municipal population register in the Netherlands. On 12 December 1813 King William I established the first passport law.

Proposed changes Chancery / Foreign Office rights Law (Stb. 376, June 17 1918)

The major principle of the Chancery / Foreign Office rights Law is “aan consulaire ambtenaren eene redelyke vergoeding te verschaffen voor de onkosten, die zy in de uitoefening van hun ambt hebben te maken en voor den tyd en den arbeid, dien zy daaraan moeten besteden. Zulk eene vergoeding is niet slechts uit billykheidsoogpunt gewenscht, maar is mede in het belang van den dienst.” [To provide unpaid consular civil servants a reasonable compensation for their expenses for their services, and their time and labour spend. Such compensation is not only righteously just, but also in the interest of the service.]

The charges for the services are very divers:

  • Legalisatie van een handtekening (artikel 17 sub 1): 2,50 (legalize signature)
  • Bewijs van Nederlanderschap (artikel 17 sub 5): 2,50 (proof of Netherlands nationality)
  • Verstrekken van een enkelvoudig paspoort: 6,75 (passport)
  • Verstrekken van een diplomaten paspoort: 6,75 (diplomatic passport)
  • Verstrekken van een familie paspoort: 10,50 (family passport)
  • Verstrekken van een zeelieden paspoort: gratis (seamen’s passport)
  • Verstrekken van een lijkenpas: 20,00 (dead certificate)
  • Verstrekken van een transito: 2,50 (transportation declaration)
  • Aanhouden van een rekening courant: 0,20, 0,25, 0,30, 0,35 of 0,40 (account)

This can go up as high as charges of 100 guilders (capacity less than a 1000 passengers) and 200 guilders (capacity over a 1000 passengers), for the notarization of the inspection of a passenger ship in Djeddah, Saudi Arabia.

The “Kanselarij Rechten” revenue was used from 1922 until the introduction of the “Consulaire Dienst” revenues in 1924. I have found the following “Kanselarij Rechten” revenues:

All revenues same design, designer unknown. Printed most likely at Joh. Enschede & Zonen Haarlem, 1922. Different colors. Perforation 12 x 11 ½ (line):

  1. 0.50 brown
  2. 1.00 blue
  3. 1.50 green
  4. 2.50 orange
  5. 3.75 red
  6. 0.60 overprint on 0.50 brown
  7. 6.– overprint on 3.75 red
  8. 6.75 overprint on 0.50 brown
  9. 6.75 overprint on 3.75 red
  10. 10. 6.75 purple

It is quite possible there exist more values and overprints, but for now unknown to me. In 1924 these revenues are replaced by the redbrown Consulaire Dienst revenues. In 1925 the colored variety of these Consulaire Dienst revenues was introduced. The passport from this figure is a very nice example:

Passport issue and signature legalisation 5 july 1923 – 1,00 gulden blue and 3,75 red.
Left: Passport renewal 2 july 1924 – 6,75 on 3,75 red. Right: Renewal 22 june 1925 – 6,75 gulden redbrown.
Left: Renewal 12 june 1926 – 6,75 gulden green. Right: Renewal 27 may 1927 – 6,75 gulden green.
Left: Renewal 19 may 1928 – 1 gulden lilac. Right: Renewal 19 april 1930 – 1 gulden lilac.

Lowering the consular tariffs?

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reasoned that the honorary position of a consul would offer him sufficient respect, offered him a very well social position, and a wide range of possibilities to valuable (business) relationships. But any unpaid (reed: voluntary) consul raises the question: “does it pay?”

April 1927 the Ministry was preparing a change to the 1918 Law to lower the Netherlands tariffs, not only for visa and passport but also the other consular services. This to promote the Netherlands shipping bussiness. But that would mean a major financial setback for the unpaid consul. He made more than 50% of his consular income from consular rights on passports, visa and other personal documents. This proposed change hit major consular resistance and an extensive correspondence.

The current level of income was necessary to maintain a consulate office. Or a nice income for the honorair consul, depending on your point of view in this conflict. Lugano had an annual income of 1600 gulden, Bern/Bazel 2000 gulden, Zurich 4600, Davoz-Platz and Geneve 9600 gulden each… And this change would at least cut that in half.

The Ministry pushed the limit, by recommending the protesting consuls to “beschouw het als eere-ambt, anders overweeg ontslag als consul, wij berusten, en zullen wel een andere candidaat vinden.” [regard this a honorary job, otherwise consider discharge, we will rest in that decision, and find another candidate] It never got this far, because without the payment it was very difficult to find new candidates who would do this “eere-ambt” for nought.

Because of this proposal and the following discussions and correspondence a lot is know about the tariffs of all consular services of that time and the exlpanaition for the major deverity in values of the Consulaire Dienst revenues of 1924 and later. Today the consular tariffs for most services are published at the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affiars.

Get rid of the revenue stamp!

One other proposed change of the 1918 law was “Get rid of that revenue stamp!” A flaming argumentation: The law chancery / foreign office rights states in article 3 [later versions this is article 4] that “den diplomatieken en consulairen ambtenaren de noodige verplichtingen op inzake het geven rekenschap voor de door hen geheven bedragen voor alle bedragen, door hen te heffen, zullen zij des verlangd eene gedetailleerde kwitantie, ondertekend uitreiken aan de belanghebbenden. Op alle bescheiden, door hen tegen betaling af te geven, zal het bedrag der betaalde som worden uitgedrukt, met verwijzing naar het toepasselijk artikel en onderdeel dezer wet.” [required to give a signed receipt with all charges and applicable artices of the law]

Generally this is only required by shipping agents. And the use of chancery / foreign office rights revenues was initially only meant for use at official consular offices with paid civil servants, but even there they omitted these revenues sometimes.

Figure 4 Attest de vita (02-10-1939) Singapore with Consular Revenues [Peter van Huuksloot]
The chancery / foreign office rights revenues have no money- or acquittal value. They are used as acquittal value, but actually nothing is acquitted by using these revenues. It was not allowed to distribute them unused. There was no accountability for revenues received, used, or still available at the consular office. And there is no justification asked when numbers don’t match. In short: “these stamps are a costly toy, costly not particularly because of the printing costs and shipping costs but the amount of administrative overhead they cause”.

Lucky for the Netherlands revenue collector this proposed change didn’t make it in the final law, and so we do have the “Kanselarij Rechten” and “Consulaire Dienst” revenues.

(Illustrations by Theo J.F. Schalke, Peter van Huuksloot and Hanspaul Hager. The original Dutch text is also available on the NVFF website.)

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Theo J.F. Schalke
Ik verzamel Nederlandse fiscaalzegels, spoorwegzegels en aanverwante zegels. Zoals rijn- en binnenvaart bevrachtingzegels en kampeerzegels van de Nederlandse kampeercentrale.

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