File No. 763.72112/2954

The Chargé in France (Bliss) to the Secretary of State

No. 3558

Sir: I have the honor to enclose for the Department’s information a copy and translation of a circular instruction from the French [Page 442] Ministry for Foreign Affairs to its diplomatic and consular officers abroad relative to the issuance in foreign countries of certificates of nationality to individuals or firms doing business with France or her colonies.1 There is also forwarded herewith several examples of the blank forms of said certificates.1

Although the Department may have already been made acquainted by the French Ambassador with the procedure of his Government in endeavoring to determine the nationality of foreign firms, with a view to preventing transactions with the enemies of France, nevertheless I venture to transmit the said circular instruction as of possible interest to the Department.

This Government requires persons and firms in Spain, and in neutral countries contiguous to the territory of the nations with which it is at war, to furnish these certificates of nationality whenever they engage in commercial transactions with the French Government or its citizens. As regards other neutral countries, the production of such certificates by persons or firms doing business with France is not obligatory, but may be required under certain circumstances, which will be found enumerated in the instructions of the Foreign Office. On the other hand, individuals or commercial houses desirous of facilitating their transactions with France may obtain, on request of French consuls, certificates of nationality upon submission of proofs required to this end.

I have recently had several informal conversations at the Foreign Office in regard to the so-called black list, with a view to ascertaining the attitude towards American firms. I have understood that the French Government is only desirous of preventing its nationals from engaging in business with subjects of the enemy nations, and that it desires to proceed in a way to inconvenience as little as possible the interests of bona fide neutral firms.

I am led to believe that the Government, which has heretofore adhered to the British black list, will henceforth reach its own conclusions in adding names to the French list. As I have already telegraphed the Department (see my No. 1539 of the 18th instant1), the French Government will examine in the most liberal spirit all requests for the removal of names found on the list whenever the interested person or persons consider that unjust action has been taken.

On the certificate of nationality will be found a footnote to the effect that, in order for stock companies and corporations not to be classed as enemy firms, their presidents should not be citizens (ressortissants) of countries at war with France, nor the majority of their board of directors (conseil); it is also required that certain principal employees should not be citizens of enemy nations. According to the certificate, the capital used in the current business of the person or persons mentioned thereon should not come from enemy subjects.

I have [etc.]

Robert Woods Bliss
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