19 april 2024

Chancery and Foreign Office revenue stamps

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.

It has been mentioned more than once at the NvFF meetings and written about frequently in the Cleyn Segel: is anybody willing to write a piece on his collection? As new member you tend to lean back and wonder: hasn’t anybody already written about this? And as longstanding member you think that by now everything has already been put to paper.

As a relatively newby at collecting fiscal revenues, I’ll try to share one of my collecting areas with you. Passport revenues came into my view through Peter van Huuksloot. Last year he cleared out his doubles on eBay, and (lucky for me) there were only a few bidders. Thanks to the summer vacation! And with several stamp exchanges you extend this starters-collection. You make use of the concept “Catalogus Nederlandse Fiscaalzegels” by Oscar van der Vliet and Peter van Huuksloot to get an insight what’s known on Netherlands passport revenues.

You visit the Museum of Communication the view the administrative records of the “Dienst Zegelwaarden Haarlem” and you find emission figures and some additional values. And so you get from passport revenue to the actual documents: passport, identity card, etc. And you want to get some examples to show the use of these revenues. By exchange with a Belgium collector I got my hands on a 1922 document: passport Model B, for foreign use by the Netherlands consulate / consulate-general. In this specific case the consulate-general of Antwerp, Belgium.

Figure 1 Passport 1922 Model B No 117794 (05-07-1923) of Cornelis Lodewijk Touber (pag 6-7).

No passport revenues, but instead several Kanselarij Rechten (Chancery / Foreign Office rights) revenues and Consulaire Dienst (Consular Office) revenues with later passport renewals. And that triggered my taste for more information.

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.

The first passport was a just a piece of paper. Around 1914 the passport booklet was introduced. After that many transformations followed. The first use of passport revenues started around 1922, and seemed not to be mandatory. The latest use of Netherlands passport revenues was about 1984/1985, never to return again. The only Netherlands sticker you’ll find in a (foreign) passport is a Netherlands Immigration and Naturalization Department Visa.

Figure 2 Netherlands Immigration and Naturalization Department Visa in German passport (1998).

From the 1960’s the foreign office rights revenue was triangular (cutoff) with the relevant article number and (local) costs. Latest use is also around 1984/1985.

Figure 3 Cutoff corners as proof of payment Kanselarij Recht.

The book “Paspoort. Een parade van Nederlandse reisdocumenten” from Tom van Beek (1995, at the occasion of the presentation of a new Netherlands passport with images on the pages depicting major historic events) gives a good insight in the early history, use and evolution of the Netherlands passport. Too bad they missed an opportunity: no fiscal backgrounds or revenues mentioned.

Almost any information you might be looking for on the current versions of the passport and identity card (both models 2001 and 2006) can be found online. My own questions on the older types of identity papers and use of passport revenues were addressed at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Agency “Basisadministratie Persoonsgegevens en Reisdocumenten” (BPR) and a number of Foreign Offices abroad. All questions were kindly accepted, but I never received an answer. Probably the specialists to answer my questions are for a few months out of the country… So I went to the National Archives myself, were all old records of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are kept, and the correspondence of a few chancery / foreign offices.

The organisation the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

In 1876 the first functional scheme of the organisation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was drafted. Before this departmental structure all tasks were just divided among the available staff; leaving only specific secret state affairs handled by a separate department since 1861: the Cabinet. The functional scheme of 1876:

  • Kabinet (cabinet)
    • Eerste Afdeling: Politieke zaken (political issues)
    • Tweede Afdeling: Consulaire- en handelszaken (consular and trade)
    • Derde Afdeling: Comptabiliteit (accounting)
    • Algemeen Secretariaat:
      • Bureau A – agenda, archief en index (agenda, archive and index)
      • Bureau B – protocol en bibliotheek (protocol and library)
      • Bureau C – expeditie (shipping and expedition)

The task description of the Second Department (the Tweede Afdeling, relevant to revenue collectors) was: to look after Netherlands trade- and shipping interests, including negotiations on treaties and protocols, and the preparation and execution of the Royal Decree that handles nominations and dismissal of consular civil servants, the consular regulations, and the publication of consular reports.

In 1886 the name of the Tweede Afdeling (Second Department) is changed into Afdeling Handelspolitiek en Consulaire Zaken (department of Trade Politics and Consular Affairs). And in 1909 the department is divided into two sub-departments. The sub-department Consular Affairs is occupied with the Netherlands Consular Service and the recognition of the foreign consular staff in the Netherlands and Netherlands Colonies; while the sub-department Trade Politics is looking after the Netherlands Trade- and Shipping Interests in foreign countries, and to prepare new treaties and contracts. This sub-department was also responsible for international contacts on rail- and waterways, telegraph and telephone. In 1919 another reorganization follows and this sub-department became the new Directie Economische Zaken.

After World War II (1940-1945) there came an and to the separate department Consular Affairs. It was integrated with the department of Diplomatic Affairs into the Foreign Department, which in turn was integrated in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1987.

The consular registry of births, deaths and marriages

In pursuance of the law ”Wet houdende regeling van de bevoegdheid der consulaire ambtenaren tot het opmaken van burgerlijke akten en van de consulaire regtsmacht” July 25 1871, Staatsblad 91 (Bulletin of Acts, Orders and Decrees 91), the possibility was introduced to appoint consular civil-servants and empower them to draw up, among other things, certificates of the registry of births, deaths and marriages. By Royal Decree of Sep 19 1872, Staatsblad 93, a number of consular offices were appointed, starting Jan 1 1873, to act based on this law. Both law and enactment were often renewed, changed and updated, also naming consulate offices granted these rights or were revoked. The consular offices are named in the appendices of these law and enactment changes: many dozens in almost every country in the world, often several per country.

More information can be found in the Staatsbladen (Bulletin of Acts, Orders and Decrees):

  • Consulaire Wet: 19 maart 1918 (Staatsblad No. 100)
  • Wijziging wet Regeling der Kanselarij rechten: 17 juni 1918 (Staatsblad No. 376)
  • Wijziging van de Consulaire Wet op 13 december 1918 (Staatsblad No. 603)
  • Wet op Kanselarij rechten 1948: 1948 (Staatsblad No. I481) And several amendments:
    • Staatsbladen: 1917 mrt 28 (Staatsblad No. 267/268), 1926 nov 19 (Staatsblad No. 384), 1930 mrt 20 (Staatsblad No. 98) / 1930 apr 18 (Staatsblad No. 367), 1934 mei 25. Staatsblad No. 271), 1938 jan 4 (Staatsblad No. 160), etc.

I looked further into one of these documents, a proposal to change the Chancery / Foreign Office rights law, just because there was a full concept version available in the National Archives. Including notes and remarks by the author. That gave a very nice insight in what was going on (and still is) in the consular arena.

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):

Nr.Value (guilders)ColourExtra information
1.0.50brown
2.1.00blue
3.1.50green
4.2.50orange
5.3.75red
6.0.60brownoverprint on 0.50
7.6.--redoverprint on 3.75
8.6.75brownoverprint on 0.50
9.6.75redoverprint on 3.75
10.6.75purple

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 legalization 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 red-brown.
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 business. 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 honorary consul, depending on your point of view in this conflict. Lugano had an annual income of 1600 gulden, Bern/Basel 2000 gulden, Zurich 4600, Davoz-Platz and Geneva 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 explanation for the major differences 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.

't Cleyn Segel magazine and the NVFF
This article was originally published in ‘t Cleyn Segel, the magazine of the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Fiscale Filatelie (NVFF). Illustrations by Theo J.F. Schalke, Peter van Huuksloot and Hanspaul Hager. The original Dutch text is also available on the NVFF website.
Theo J.F. Schalke

Theo J.F. Schalke

Ik verzamel Nederlandse fiscaal-/belastingzegels, spoorwegzegels en aanverwante zegels. Zoals sleep-, rijn- en binnenvaart bevrachtingzegels, radiozegels, paspoortzegels, en kampeerzegels van de Nederlandse kampeercentrale. Daarnaast zegels van consulaire diensten van een groot aantal landen.

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