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of initiating such inquiries and remonstrances as the interests entrusted to his keeping may from time to time require.1 The right of interposition is believed to justify, for example, courteous inquiry of a court as to the nature of an offense charged against a fellow countryman, or as to the status of a pending case, even in countries where the preliminary proceedings in criminal cases are secret. The right is, however, capable of abuse, which is apparent when a consul demands, for example, information unrelated to the violation of a treaty or of international law, or to the protection of his countrymen.3

When upon proper occasion a consul interposes with local authorities, his complaints are entitled to respectful consideration; and if they are not satisfactorily redressed, direct application to the Government of the country is, according to numerous treaties, thereupon justified.4

Foreign consuls in the United States have at times availed themselves of the right of interposition by appeals to the judiciary committees of State legislatures. Such action has been for the purpose of suggesting the enactment of laws facilitating the exercise of consular rights conferred by existing conventions, or of explaining the nature of proposals in contravention of treaty provisions, or of exposing the evils (also sought to be prevented by certain agreements of the United States) of particular discriminations against aliens and their dependents, both resident and nonresident. Such participation in local political affairs indicates,5

1 Mr. Olney, Secy. of State, to Mr. Dupuy de Lôme, Spanish minister, Oct. 11, 1895, For. Rel. 1895, II, 1213, Moore, Dig., V, 103.

According to Circular Instructions to American Consular Officers in Mexico, Central America and South America, Aug. 25, 1898, it was declared: "It is one of the most important duties of consular agents as well as of consuls to use their good offices in behalf of American citizens and for the protection of their interests, and it is confidently believed that our citizens would be treated with injustice less frequently in foreign countries if it were known and felt in each community that the nearest consular representative of the United States took an interest in every American citizen in his district, no matter how humble, and would be sure, if occasion arose, to demand justice."

2 Mr. Sherman, Secy. of State, to Mr. Sepulveda, May 5, 1897, For. Rel. 1897, 396, Moore, Dig., V, 106.

According to Circular Instructions of Dec. 12, 1909, American consular officers were directed to endeavor, upon request, to obtain information respecting the enforcement of the claims of American Citizens.

3 Mr. Hay, Secy. of State, to Mr. Tower, Ambassador to Germany, No. 42, April 1, 1903, For. Rel. 1903, 447, Moore, Dig., V, 107.

4 See, for example, Art. IX, consular convention with Sweden, June 1, 1910, Charles' Treaties, 114.

5 In the course of the enactment of so-called workmen's compensation acts, consular interposition has been frequent in certain States of the United States, in order to emphasize the equities of non-resident alien dependents, and also to secure recognition of consular officers as legal representatives of such individuals.


however, no impropriety of conduct which the State of residence finds just cause to resent. It may be observed that legislative committees have on numerous occasions given heed to such consular suggestions which have at times been incorporated in laws subsequently enacted.1




§ 470. Display of National Arms and Flag.

It has been announced by the Department of State that a consul may place the arms of his government over his door.2 The American consular officer is, however, instructed to place the arms of the United States over the entrance of the consulate "unless prohibited by the laws of the country."3 The right to place the national arms and the name of the consulate on the outer door of the consular offices is frequently given by treaty.

In 1912 the Department of State declared that the display by a consul of the flag of his country was "a thing which may be properly claimed as a right under international law", and that in the exercise of it, the flag might be displayed at all times and not merely on certain holidays.5

1 See, for example, § 113 (5) of the Employer's Liability Act of Nebraska of 1913; also § 23 of the Workmen's Compensation Law of Minnesota (Chap. 467, General L., 1913), as amended in 1915.

A foreign consular officer on one occasion, however, exposed himself to criticism, when, after having been appointed administrator of the estate of an American citizen who had died domiciled within his consular district and on the petition of resident American heirs, he subsequently sought to make use of his alienage in order to confer jurisdiction upon a Federal court in a suit brought by him as administrator. Cerri v. Akron-People's Telephone Co., 219 Fed. 285, 294.

2 Consular Regulations of the United States (1896), § 73; also Art. 14, Regulations respecting consular immunities adopted by the Institute of International Law, Sept. 26, 1896, Annuaire, XV, 307.

3 Consular Regulations of the United States (1896), § 70. “As to the display of national arms, §§ 70 and 73 do not seem to be entirely consistent." Moore, Dig., V, 57.

See, for example, Art. V, consular convention with Sweden, June 1, 1910, Charles' Treaties, 114. The right to place the national arms and the name of the consulate on the consular "dwellings" was also conferred by Art. IV, consular convention with Germany, Dec. 11, 1871, Malloy's Treaties, I, 551.

Mr. Knox, Secy. of State, to the Mexican Ambassador at Washington, June 21, 1912, For. Rel. 1912, 903. Compare the language of Consular Regulations of the United States (1896), § 73. Id., § 70, Moore, Dig., V, 58, and documents there cited.

See provisions of Art. V of consular convention with Sweden, June 1, 1910, Charles' Treaties, 114; Display of Foreign Flags, supra, § 212; case of outrage to the escutcheon and flag of the German Consulate at Lausanne in January, 1916, Rev. Gén., XXIII, 340–345.


§ 471. Ceremonial and Rank.

It is doubtless true that "consuls have no claim, under international law, to any formal ceremonial, and no right of precedence except among themselves, and in their relation to the military and naval officers of their own country." Nevertheless, in certain States such as the United States, where a foreign consul is oftentimes the chief representative of his government within a wide territorial area, and is burdened with vast responsibilities in relation to a numerous population of his countrymen residing within his district, he becomes increasingly regarded as a high official entitled to special marks of courtesy.

As a matter of domestic policy the United States has found it wise to indicate a correspondence of rank between American consular and American naval or military officers; 2 and also to prescribe certain rules of conduct respecting official intercourse of officers of the former with those of the latter services. That an American consul-general is given rank with, but next after, a brigadier-general of the Army, and a rank intermediate between a rear-admiral and a captain in the Navy, is significant estimate of the dignity attached to the highest consular office.4


§ 472. Exemption from Taxation.

It has been declared by the Department of State as recently as 1909, that in the absence of treaty, a foreign State is not under any legal obligation to exempt an American consular officer from the payment of a tax upon his private income, even though derived from property situated in the United States. Hence, any exemption of such an officer from a tax upon his private income derived from property located outside of the territory of the taxing

1 Consular Regulations of the United States (1896), § 76, where it is also declared that "this precedence, as to officers of the same grade in the consular body of the place, depends upon the date of the respective exequaturs. 1 Halleck, ch. 11, sec. 7."

2 Compare Mr. Hay, Secy. of State, to Gov. Allen (Porto Rico), May 23, 1900, 245 MS. Dom. Let. 230, Moore, Dig., V, 59.

3 Consular Regulations of the United States (1896), §§ 109-113, 440–442; also Circular Instruction, Jan. 22, 1908, amending § 441.

4 Circular Instruction, Jan. 22, 1908, amending § 441, Consular Regulations of the United States (1896). According to the amendatory instruction, on occasions of ceremony, other than purely diplomatic functions, a consulgeneral is given a rank with, but next before, a first secretary of an embassy.

5 Memorandum of the law officer of the Department of State on the payment of income taxes by American consular officers in Great Britain, March 1,


[§ 472
State must be sought upon "grounds of international comity
and reciprocal favor." A State is not, however, believed to
possess the right to tax the official income of a foreign consul,
unless he is one of its own nationals.2

The right to tax the private immovable property of a foreign
consul, as well as his private movable property or incorporeal
property, which may be fairly said to belong, for purposes of taxa-
tion, within the taxing State, is not open to doubt.

By treaty broad exemptions are habitually conceded. Consular
conventions of the United States purport to exempt a consul who
is a national of the appointing State, from all personal or property
taxes, except such as are due on account of the possession of real
property in, or for interest on capital invested in the country where
the consul exercises his functions.3 Such exemptions are, however,
commonly declared to be inapplicable to consular officers engaged
in any profession, business or trade. Engagement therein is said
to subject them to the same taxes that would be paid by any
other foreigner under like circumstances. It may be doubted
whether the act of engaging in an occupation alien to the consular
service should in itself serve to subject the officer to the payment
of a tax upon his official income, if any.5

1909, enclosed in instruction of Mr. Knox, Secy. of State, to Mr. Reid, Am-
bassador to Great Britain, April 21, 1909, For. Rel. 1909, 284.

Compare Art. 13, declaration of the Institute of International Law, respect-
ing Consular Immunities, Sept. 26, 1896, Annuaire, XV, 306.

Exemption from Military or Naval Service. In order to prevent interference
with the performance of their official duties, consuls, at least when nationals
of the State by which they are appointed, should be exempt from any military
or naval service. Numerous treaties of the United States so provide. See,
for example, Art. III, consular convention with Sweden, June 1, 1910, Charles'
Treaties, 113.

1 Mr. Knox, Secy. of State, to Mr. Reid, Ambassador to Great Britain,
April 21, 1909, For. Rel. 1909, 284. Indicating inability on the part of the
British Government to exempt from taxation the private income of foreign
consular officers derived from property abroad, see Mr. Reid, Ambassador to
Great Britain, to Mr. Knox, Secy. of State, June 18, 1909, id., 286.

2 Mr. Frelinghuysen, Secy. of State, to Mr. de Struve, Russian Minister,
April 21, 1884, MS. Notes to Russia, VII, 449, Moore, Dig., V, 87; also Mr.
Seward, Secy. of State, to Mr. Chase, Sept. 23, 1863, 62 MS. Dom. Let. 9,
Moore, Dig., V, 87.

3 See, for example, Art. III, consular convention with Sweden, June 1, 1910,
Charles' Treaties, 113. In that Article there is also embraced within the
exception "income from pensions of public or private nature enjoyed from"
the country wherein the consul exercises his functions.

4 Id.

5 Thus Art. III of the consular convention with Germany of Dec. 11, 1871,
contained the wise provision that "under no circumstances shall their official
income be subject to any tax." Malloy's Treaties, I, 551. See, also, For.
Rel. 1901, 172-173, Moore, Dig., V, 88-89, respecting the liability of em-
ployees of American consulates in Germany to the German compulsory in-
surance act.

473. Customs Duties.


It is not believed that foreign consular officers possess the right of free entry for goods sent to them for their personal use, or for their personal effects even upon first arrival in the country to which they are appointed.1

The Government of the United States does, however, extend the privileges of free entry and exemption from examination to the baggage and effects of foreign consular officers (including their families and suites), whose governments grant reciprocal privileges of free entry to American officers of like grade accredited thereto.2 All official supplies of whatever nature sent by foreign governments to their consular officers in the United States are also admitted free of duty. The Department of State is, nevertheless, of the opinion that the extension of these courtesies and privileges should be based upon the principle of reciprocity.*





474. Civil Process.

A foreign consular officer is not, according to the law of nations, exempt from the local jurisdiction. The territorial sovereign is not obliged to yield to him so great a privilege. He is amenable to

1 Mr. Bayard, Secy. of State, to Mr. Cox, Nov. 6, 1885, MS. Inst. Turkey, IV, 305, Moore, Dig., V, 90; also Mr. Moore, Assist. Secy. of State, to Mr. Cafiero, May 11, 1898, MS. Notes to For. Consuls, IV, 413, Moore, Dig., V,


The more recent consular conventions of the United States do not purport to exempt consular officers from customs duties. That Art. II of the consular convention with Austria-Hungary, July 11, 1870, exempting consular officers under certain circumstances "from all direct and personal taxation, whether federal, state or municipal", did not embrace customs duties, see Mr. Bayard, Secy. of State, to Mr. Lee, Chargé, No. 16, Nov. 6, 1885, MS. Inst. AustriaHungary, III, 371, Moore, Dig., V, 90. Compare Article XVII, treaty with Tunis, August, 1797, Malloy's Treaties, II, 1798, superseded by treaty with France, of March 15, 1904, id., I, 544.

2 Instructions of Mr. Curtis, Assist. Secy. of the Treasury, to Collectors of Customs, Oct. 19, 1911, T. D. 31934, Treasury Decisions, XXI, No. 17, p. 7; Art. 376 of Customs Regulations of 1915, as amended Oct. 4, 1920.

See, also, Diplomatic Intercourse of States, Customs Duties, supra, § 441. 3 Circular Instruction of Mr. Wilson, Acting Secy. of State, to American Diplomatic Officers, Sept. 12, 1911.

4 Id.

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