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Comparative statement showing the number and tonnage of ressels arrived at
and departed from the port of Havre for the years 1862 and 1863, with the names of the countries to and from which they sailed.
966 10,050 7,421
Total beyond sea....
SUMMARY OF THE RULES AND REGULATIONS AND MODES OF CONVEYANCE PRE
SCRIBED BY THE FRENCH CUSTOMS FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF GOODS ACROSS THE NATIONAL FRONTIERS, AND THEJR SHIPMENT IN SEAPORTS TO FOREIGN COUNTRIES.
The transit of merchandise through France is effected in two different ways, varying according to whether the same is forwarded by special railway train, or by the ordinary routes or roads of travel.
Special conveyance of goods by leaded or sealed wagons, (plombés.) Goods for transportation from a seaport to the land frontier, if discharged from a vessel, are forwarded by special wagon and train to destination upon the simple declaration of the merchant (see Form 1*) after verification thereof as to quantity, marks, and numbers. Should the goods, however, be withdrawn from the customs warehouses, and not from on board a vessel, they are, previously to being forwarded as above, verified in every particular by the officers of the revenue. This formality is necessary to the discharge and release of the owner or consignee. (For declaration see Form 2*.)
In both of the foregoing cases an employé of the customs accompanies the merchandise to the railway depot, where it is temporarily deposited in places, or under sheds, exclusively reserved for the purpose, and, while there, is watched day and night. In certain localities wagons take the goods direct from the ship, or from the warehouses themselves, but are always escorted to the depot aforesaid by an officer of the customs.
The wagons destined for the conveyance of goods in transit are laden at the railway station under the superintendence of the customs officers, who take note of the number of packages and verify the same by the declarations (Forms 1 and 2) which they hold.
The wagons used for the above purposes are either closed or open ones, covered with tarpaulins. (Small boxes or packages are never placed on the latter.) For greater security the doors of the closed wagons are sealed or leaded,
*These forms or declarations are always made in duplicate. One remains on file at the custom-bouse, and the other serves as a permit, and accompanies the merchandiso to the railway station.
(plombés.) Those uncovered, having tarpaulins over them, are made fast, and are effectually protected by means of ropes, likewise sealed or stamped.
A recapitulatory statement of the goods to be forwarded by special train is then made (see Form 3) by the railway officials, and is countersigned by the officers of the customs who assisted at the formation of the train, and finally deposited at the custom-house.
There are added as many declarations (Form 4) as there are lots of goods comprised in Forms 1 and 2. These latter documents are drawn and signed by the shippers and forwarders of the goods, and are countersigned by the customs authorities.
There is, lastly, another general statement subscribed by the railway company (Form 5) completing the list of indispensable vouchers and declarations to accompany the train.*
The wagons or cars containing goods in transit either form a special train or accompany an ordinary one of travellers or of free goods.
The customs possess the right of causing the train to be escorted by two of its agents, but seldom exercise it.
It sometimes happens that trains are accompanied from the place of departure to destination, and again are joined at intermediate stations, by the officers of the customs without any previous notice wbatever being given to the railway company. The wagons comprising the train, on arrival at destination, must appear to the customs officials in the identical condition as when they started. If by unavoidable circumstances it should become necessary on the road to change the goods or tranship them from one car to another, this must take place in the presence of the customs officers escorting them, and if none be present, by the government commiseаry,t or by any other duly constituted authority, whose duty it is to seal anew such car or cars, and to draw up a report of the circumstances justifying the same, which must be transmitted to the customs at the place of destination of the goods. On arrival of the train at the frontier, the customs there established proceed to the examination of the condition of the different wagons, and if, after verification, no suspicions are entertained by the officers, the train continues its journey. When the contrary is the case, the wagons are all unloaded and a detailed inspection is made of the quantity, kinds, marks and numbers of the goods and packages. If a difference is discovered in the number of the cases, or the nature of the merchandise, a protest is immediately drawn up against the railway company, which, bound or held responsible by their recapitulating statement, (Form 5,) are subjected to a fine of 2,000 francs per package missing, or differing in kind, f independently of the confiscation of the wagon or car on which the fraud was perpeti ated.
The French law gives to the customs the power of settling all questions of dispute without recourse to the tribunals or courts, and which, according to circumstances, exact from the party in fault a portion or the whole of the legal penalties imposed.
The frontier custom-house states the result of its verification and examination on the documents relating to and accompanying the train, and then returns the latter to the customs of the place of the departure, which absolves the parties there residing from all further responsibility, or enters suit for the payment of such fines, if any have been incurred.
The transportation of goods from a land frontier to a seaport is effected under the same formalities, and is governed by the same laws and regulations, differing only in some few details of form. Thus, for instance, trains arriving
* All the documents accompanying a train of goods in transit must be made in duplicate. One copy remains at the custom-house of the port of departure, and the other follows said goods to their destination, and it is delivered to the customs there. tAn officer of this rank is attached to every important station,
When a difference of weight is found in a package, the customs consider it as differen from the one sent.
at the frontiers from a foreign country laden with merchandise in transit are not discharged; the customs, however, seal or lead the wagons, as before mentioned, and the same declarations and recapitulatory statement are required and accompany the goods to their destination, where they are subjected to the examination and inspection of the agents of the customs, who verify the seals, kinds, marks, and numbers of the packages and merchandise, and cause them to be stored at the railway station until disposed of by the consignees. Here ends the responsibility of the railroad company, and the removal of the goods is made at the risk of the merchant, who is at the same time charged with the making of the declarations prescribed for the general importation or exportation of merchandise.
All the formalities, declarations, and vouchers accompanying a train from a seaport to a land frontier are likewise necessary for the conveyance of goods from a land frontier to a seaport, and the same course of prosecution for fraud obtains.
The exportation of goods so arriving is not obligatory. The merchant enjoys the privilege of declaring and entering them for consumption, (consommation,) upon the payment of the duties, or having them stored in the warehouses of the customs until such time as he is ready to ship them.
It may be well to observe here that merchandise placed in bond can only so remain for a period of three years.
The removal of goods in transit from the railway station is effected by means of a customs permit granted to each claimant upon the latter's declaration verified. Prior to the delivery of the permit, however, the goods undergo a very rigid examination, and if any difference is discovered, either in the weight or in the nature of the merchandise, the customs immediately commence proceedings against said claimant, and apply to him, in lieu of the penalties of the laws of transit, those which govern the general importation of goods.
To prevent the accumulation under the sheds or warehouses at the railway depot of merchandise in transit, the merchant is compelled to withdraw them within ten days after arrival and declare them for either exportation or consumption, (consommation,) or have them placed in bond. The custom-house levies no tax on goods in transit. All the expenses of loading and unloading and handling of the cases, &c, are borne by the merchants to whom they are addressed or belong, or by the railway company to which they are confided.
The forms and declarations and the stamping of the same are likewise paid for by the merchant.
Should the necessities of the railway company prevent the conveyance of goods in transit from the land frontier to a seaport, the transhipment thereof in other wagons must take place at an intermediate station where there is a custom-house, whose officers superintend the operation, after identifying and verifying the goods. The new wagons containing them are leaded or sealed anew, and a statement of the circumstances is indorsed on Form No. 5, and signed by the custom officials, and which must accompany the train to its destination. The law further permits trains of merchandise in transit to be declared for an intermediate station.* In such cases the customs there verify the papers, vouchers, &c., accompanying the goods in like manner as if they had but arrived at a frontier place, and the merchant can either declare his merchandise for consumption or re-exportation to the frontier, or have them deposited in the public warehouse.
The system and modes of transit described above apply to the transportation of goods from one entrepot or custom-house of France to another. The transit of goods in sealed wagons is not obligatory, and, notwithstanding the immense facilities and benefits it affords, merchants are wholly at liberty to forward their goods in the usual way-that is to say, by ordinary railway trains.
* This station cannot exist but at a place where there is established a public or customs warehouse.
Ordinary modes of transportation of goods. The conveyance of goods by railway, or otherwise than by sealed wagons and special train, both from a scaport to a land frontier and vice versa, is regulated by other laws and formalities. In such cases the customs hold responsible the forwarder of the goods.
Goods entering France by a land frontier where there is no custom-house must be immediately forwarded. Those arriving at a seaport can either be forwarded after discharge from shipboard or after being warehoused.* They must be declared in detail and according to Form 6, or 6 bis.f These forms or declarations must be signed by the merchant, who, at the same time, subscribes a bond or guarantee for the payment of the duties on the goods, which are then verified in every particular as to weight and kind, as if the same had been entered for the consumption, (consommation.) The cases or packages exceeding the number declared are confiscated, and a fine of 100 francs per case imposed. If the merchandise is prohibited, it is likewise confiscated, and a fine imposed of triple its value. If the weight is found to surpass ten per cent. of that declared, the excess thereof is made to pay an equivalent of double its entry duty.
Where the customs discover a less number of packages than those declared, the fine exacted is 300 francs per case missing; and if the goods are of a prohibited character, a fine of no less than 1,000 francs is inflicted per case.
A deficiency in weight of goods free to entry does not, as a matter of course, subject the merchant to penalties; but a deficiency in weight of prohibited goods subjects him to a fine of 500 francs per each declaration of the same.
For differences found in the kind or quality of goods the penalty is confiscation, with a fine of 100 francs for each false declaration, and in relation to goods of a prohibited character is triple their value.
If the merchant declares a species of goods free to enter, and the customs, on examination, finds them to be prohibited, they are, together with the wagons, carts, ships, &c., which conveyed them, confiscated, and a fine of 500 francs imposed, when the goods are all included in one declaration. These several penalties do not preclude the merchant making false declarations, if he immediately pays the fines or gives security to do so, from forwarding his goods to destination.
It should be remembered that the French customs authorities have the right of settling all questions in dispute and to exact or waive any legal penalties.
After the confiscation of the merchandise, the packages, boxes, &c., containing the same are carefully closed and leaded or sealed, (plombés.) The rope, to the extremity of which is attached the seal or stamp, is passed over the case thus: (see original. It is passed over the angles of the case in order to avoid the possibility of its being broken or worn asunder.
The stamping of barrels, casks, &c. is made on the heads of the same, and the rope extends to the extremity of the staves, thus : (see original.
In regard to prohibited goods, or those liable to the payment of very heavy duties, it is required that the bales or cases containing them be doubly covered. The inner covering, or the case itself, is first leaded and then the outer one.
The customs for certain goods, those, for instance, which by their nature most invite to fraud, take a sample of them, which is afterwards enclosed in a small box and leaded. This sample, on the arrival of the goods at destination, is compared therewith. In the case of liquids, as the leading would offer but little guarantee against fraud, the administration likewise limits itself to taking a
* The importation of goods by sea in transit cannot take place but at such ports where are established customs warehouses, and in like manner the law limits the importation by land to certain fixed places.
+ This declaration is transcribed on a register or record-book, (Form No. 7,) on the left
f The term “prohibited goods” applies to such goods, the duty on which is so high as to render their importation almost impossible.