Mr. Hay to Mr. King.

No. 83.]

Sir: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your dispatch, No. 111, of the 6th ultimo, asking if a consular or diplomatic officer of the United States, who is duly authorized to issue passports, is permitted to issue one to a citizen of the United States residing at the time of application in the jurisdiction of another officer so authorized.

“Instructions to the Diplomatic Officers of the United States” and the “Regulations Prescribed for the Use of the Consular Service of the United States,” do not prohibit an officer from issuing a passport to a citizen who is residing in some other officer’s district. Extraordinary circumstances may be conceived where he should do so, as, for instance, when a passport, being imperatively needed, communication with the officer in his district might be impracticable or impossible to a citizen.

But it is obvious that, except in a most unusual case, application should be made to the diplomatic or consular officer of the applicant’s district, and that an officer issuing a passport to a citizen residing in another officer’s district would be infringing upon the latter’s prerogatives and interfering with his legitimate functions of office.

An officer is supposed to know, or have means of knowing, whether a citizen in his district is entitled to receive a passport, and if an applicant, being refused by one officer, could apply to another, tnere would be confusion and injustice.

[Page 944]

You are instructed to report circumstantially to the Department any instance known to you of the issuance of passports by a diplomatic or consular officer to citizens of the United States residing in the district of another diplomatic or consular officer.

I am, etc,,

John Hay.