Mr. Wolff to Mr. Seward.

No. 30.]

Sir: In accordance with circular No. 30, dated December 24, 1862, which I received February 12, 1863, I have obtained some information in reference to the protection of revenues, and the collection of duties in the passage of goods to Switzerland and across the frontier. Switzerland is divided into six departments for collection of duties. Basle belongs to the first department; the custom-house is located at this city. This department comprises Basle city, Basle land, canton of Aragan, and the frontier line of the cantons of Berne and Solem.


The importer has to make a written declaration stating the value and description of the merchandise. All merchandise to be examined and inspected by the officer at the custom-house, except such merchandise as is declared under the highest class of tariff—this is, No. 9—and pays 15 francs per 100, Brullo weight. The importer has to bear the expenses for packing, which are only a trifle.

For every wagon load of goods a declaration has to be made, and the customhouse officer is authorized, if necessary, to open and to examine every package, and if in accordance with the declaration, it is packed up again without any charges. I enclose herewith a form of declaration.


For transit of goods a written declaration is required, and the officer of the custom-house may inspect and examine the same if necessary, issue a certificate, which must be presented, in a given time, to the officer at the frontier custom-house. The transit toll, for a distance of eight hours, is five centimes for one hundred pounds weight; over that distance, thirty centimes. Goods may be transmitted under seal of lead; for every package, fifty centimes has to be paid.


The formalities for export are very simple. A written declaration must be made, and for almost all the goods twenty centimes per quintal must be paid. Merchandise under seal of lead, as in transit from Switzerland across France, requires two written declarations. The charges of the French custom-house are, for every package fifty to seventy-five cents; and if wagons with goods, for every 1,000 kilogrammes twenty-five to fifty cents. Merchandise exported from Switzerland, via France, to any country where no international transit is in existence, such merchandise has to be examined at the French frontier [Page 1367] custom-house, every package to be sealed with lead, and forwarded under guarantee. The charges for every package are seventy-five cents; for seal, seventy-five centimes; and for guarantee, seventy-five centimes.


A. Whoever imports, exports, or transmits merchandise, liable to duty, or takes the same out of the public warehouse, against the rules and regulations;

B. Whoever imports and exports merchandise, liable to duty, over certain non-allowed roads, or to places not being ports of entry;

C. Whoever leaves the prescribed road from a by-custom-house to a general custom-house;

D. Whoever appears with merchandise, liable to duty, and passes the custom-house for one hundred yards without being at liberty to do so;

E. Whoever fails to tender the officer of the custom-house the toll, in whole or in part;

F. Whoever makes an incorrect statement of his merchandise for the purpose of lessening the toll;

G. Whoever declares the weight five per cent. too low, or the value at least ten per cent. lower, with the purpose of lessening the toll;

H. Whoever appears across the line in Switzerland with merchandise liable to paying duty at the closed hours, against the rules and regulations;

Every one who thus acts contrary to the above-named regulations will be punished, for the first time, with a penalty from five to thirty times the value of the toll, in addition to the fees, &c. In repeated cases the fine may be doubled, and, under certain circumstances, two years’ confinement in the penitentiary sentenced, subject to the pardon of the federal government.

One part of the fine the informer receives; one part the treasurer of the canton; and the balance must be paid over to the federal treasury.

Enclosures: No. 1. Form of declaration for import; No. 2. Form of declaration for transit.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

A. L. WOLFF, United States Consul.

Hon. William H. Seward, &c., &c., &c.