to Mr. Stallo.
Washington , April 27, 1887.
Sir: I herewith inclose a copy of a dispatch from Mr. Philip Carroll (No. 148, March 31, 1887), our consul at Palermo, stating that the department of finance at Borne, with which he had corresponded on the subject, had refused to accord free entry to some flags sent him officially by this Department.
In such cases it would be more proper, and probably more successful in the end, if the consulates would refer such questions through the consul-general to the legation, which could then bring the matter before the foreign office and obtain a decision applicable in future cases. This, moreover, would be in accordance with the practice of this Government under our Treasury regulations, which provide:
Sec. 387. Free entry of articles sent by a foreign Government for its use to an agent in this country will, in proper cases, be granted on (like) application made through the Department of State. When it shall appear to the satisfaction of the collector and the naval officer, if there is one, that packages contain only official forms sent by” a foreign Government for the use of its consular or other officers in this country, the same may be admitted to entry on a written application therefor from the officer for whose use they are intended.
Such articles as national flags, shields, and official stationery would always be proper articles to make such application for, in distinction from wearing apparel, wines, cigars, or other articles, for the personal use of the consuls.
From the correspondence of Mr. Carroll with the Italian finance department it would appear that the apparel and furniture of consuls are [Page 634] admitted free on their arrival in Italy, but no mention is made of in signia of office or official stationery, which are allowed to enter free by some Governments. Germany has informed us that she prefers reciprocal duties to reciprocal exemption for official consular supplies such as are admitted free by us, but makes an exception in favor of flags, escutcheons, and other emblems of authority. Austria, in response to our inquiry as to what she was disposed to do as regards a shield for a consulate, regretted that under her customs laws, which could only be altered by legislative action, exemption from customs dues could not be granted to foreign consuls, either for articles for their personal use or for those required for their official duties. You will thus see that there is no universal rule of free entry.
Your dispatch No. 47, of the 16th of March, 1886; on this subject appears to relate to purely personal supplies of household articles for the consul at Naples, and the application for their free entry to the foreign office was refused on the ground that there was no reciprocity for such articles on the part of the United States.
The present case, however, appears to be different, and you are therefore instructed to bring the case to the attention of the foreign office, and while not claiming as a right the exemption of the flags in question, you will explain that such articles are the property of this Government, and continue to be so as much as naval stores sent to foreign ports to which free entry is usually accorded.
You will state that it is the practice of this Government to accord free entry to articles sent by foreign governments to this country for the official use of consuls, on application, in case of doubt, to the Department of State, through their respective legations, and ask if the Italian Government would be able and willing to accord the same privilege for official flags, insignia, and supplies sent to our consuls in Italy, and, if so, what form of application would be necessary for this purpose.
In the case of some foreign Governments this Department notifies our minister there of the prospective arrival of the article, and directs him to apply for their free entry in advance of their arrival. This system, which has been found to save delay and to work well, might be suggested by you.
You are requested to notify the consul at Palermo of the purport of the reply received from the foreign office, and likewise to report it to this Department.
I am, etc.,