Northern Rhodesia
1929 - 1964 Postage Dues and Surcharged Mail
This Page Includes

An Intoduction to the subject of
Postage Dues of Northern Rhodesia

The Post office Rules and Regulations
for Surcharged Mail

Extracts from the Crown Agents
Requisition Books
(Printing Figures)

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The Page
Northern Rhodesia Postage Due Labels

During the late nineteen twenties Northern Rhodesia was one of the first British Central African countries to introduce the use of postage due labels. It took neighbouring Nyasaland and Southern Rhodesia over twenty years to follow suit.

I wrote my first extensive article on the Mkushi Postage Dues in August 1994 in The Rhodesian Philatelist No 5 reviewing all previous information available to me. Other than that and considering the keen interest in Postage Dues generally, at the time it was surprising that so little has been published on the Northern Rhodesian aspect. The Rhodesia Study Circle Journal Cumulative Index and their 1996 Guide to Literature indicated that except for an interest in the 1953 Mkushi postage dues there was virtually nothing else worthy of mention other than the odd report on the existence of a 2d bisected due.

In October 2000 in The Rhodesian Philatelist No 20 I published another extensive article on the Northern Rhodesia Postage Dues which included extracts from the September 1939 POST OFFICE GUIDE - Department of Posts and Telegraphs - Northern Rhodesia.
In October 2005 I published a book on The Mkushi Postage Dues and in September 2007 in The Rhodesian Philatelist No 27 an in depth article appeared on Northern Rhodesia 1952 1d and 3d Postage Dues on Chalky Paper. The forgoing article was reprinted in The South African Philatelist during 2014.

During 2008 Alan Drysdall showed me a draft of Surcharged Mail and the Postage Due Stamps of Northern Rhodesia 1924 - 64 and requested assistance. All my previous work was incorporated in the foregoing title and many of the illustrations were sourced from my extensive collection of Northern Rhodesia Postage Due. This book was published in 2009 as a Rhodesia Study Circle Handbook being Memoir 12.
Time does not stand still and as is so often the case with Philately there are already several updates that could be added to the foregoing book.

The Post office Rules and Regulations for Surcharged Mail
I quote the rules and regulations contained in the September 1939 POST OFFICE GUIDE - Department of Posts and Telegraphs - Northern Rhodesia.

The title page informs us: The Operations of the Post Office in Northern Rhodesia are governed by the ‘Post Office Ordinance’ and Regulations there under...all rates and conditions are subject to amendment from time to time by notice published in the ‘Gazette’.

SECTION I - TARIFFS - Miscellaneous Charges

Registration of any postal article 4d. Compulsory registration 6d. Parcel posted in a posting box 3d.
Late fees including posting boxes on trains
Details under Section II.

Section II - General Rules and Regulations
1. Letters containing valuables: Jewellery, money and other valuable articles sent through the post are subject to compulsory registration if not already registered.

2. Mixed contents: Articles upon which different rates of postage are payable may be enclosed in one packet if postage is prepaid on the whole packet at the highest rate applicable to any of the contents.

3. Perforated stamps: Subject to the approval in writing of the Postmaster-General postage stamps may be perforated with initials, and such perforated stamps shall be available for any purpose of the "Post Office Ordinance". Perforated stamps will not be repurchased or exchanged for other stamps (see notes under paragraph 6).

4. Mail matter insufficiently prepaid: An article posted unpaid or insufficiently prepaid is chargeable on delivery with double the deficiency. In case of non-delivery the charges due on any unpaid or insufficiently prepaid postal articles are, by law, recoverable from the sender.

5. Verifying surcharges: If there be any dispute as to the accuracy of any surcharge on a postal article, the matter should be represented to the Postmaster of the office of delivery, to whom the article in question must be produced prior to its being opened.

6. Spoiled stamps: Payment of postage cannot be made by means of imperfect, worn or defaced postage stamps, or of embossed or impressed stamps cut from envelopes, cards or wrappers, even though the stamps have not been previously used.
The term defaced postage stamps includes stamps marked by the purchasers with any written, printed or stamped characters, but not those perforated with the initials of firms, as described in paragraph 3.

7. Penalty for using defaced stamp: Any person using a previously used stamp for any purpose of the Post Office will be liable to prosecution.

8. Evasion of postage: No postal article directed to one address may contain any other article addressed to a different address. Any such forbidden enclosure, if observed, will be forwarded to the address surcharged with double the postage which would have been payable upon such enclosure if it had been sent separately.

Late Fee Letters:
At many post offices, correspondence may be posted after the ordinary hours of collection on payment of late fees on the following scale:
Per Article
1. For the acceptance of ordinary letters, post cards, newspapers, samples, printed papers and commercial papers, after the closing of the mail:
((a) Not exceeding 15 minutes late...1d
(b) Exceeding 15 minutes but not exceeding 30 minutes late ...2d

2. For the acceptance of registered articles and parcels after the closing of the registered letter and parcels mails:
(a) Not exceeding 15 minutes late..3d
(b) Exceeding 15 minutes but not exceeding 30 minutes lat...6d

3. Articles posted in the posting box on trains...1d

Posting Boxes on Trains: Posting Boxes are attached to the guards vans of all mail trains travelling between Livingstone and Bulawayo and Livingstone and Ndola, and are intended for:

(i) fully prepaid letters bearing in addition to ordinary postage a late fee of 1d and intended for the place at which the box is to be cleared (as indicated by the label affixed to the box) or places beyond that point;
(ii) fully prepaid letters posted at a siding where a post office has not been established. Such letters require no additional fee provided that the name and residential address of the sender and the point on the route where posting is affected are written on the back of the envelope.

Railway Letter Post
1. Where accepted: Letters are accepted at all railway stations and sidings for conveyance at owner’s risk by the next available train (goods, mixed or passenger).

2. Charges payable: Postage stamps of the value of the postage payable under the regulations of the Post Office must be affixed to the letter, and in addition a charge of 3d per letter must be paid by the sender at the railway parcels office or to the guard of the train, as the case may be.

3. Manner of posting: Letters must be presented at a railway parcel or booking office during such time as the station is open to the public, but unless tendered at least twenty minutes before the advert¬ised time of departure of a train their despatch by that train cannot be guaranteed.

4. Conditions of acceptance: No letter will be accepted for conveyance as a railway letter which:
(a) does not bear the requisite postage;
(b) from any word or marks thereon appears to be intended for registration;
(c) is addressed to or from places outside Northern Rhodesia or Southern Rhodesia, i.e., beyond the Congo border, Umtali or Ramaquabane;
(d) contains or appears to contain jewellery, coin or other articles which, if sent through the post unregistered, would be subject to registration by the Post Office;
(e) contains or appears to contain any article or thing which may not under the regulations for the time being be sent by letter post.

Any letter found by an officer of the Post Office to have been accepted contrary to the provisions of paragraphs (b) or (d) will be charged with the fee for compulsory registration, sixpence, and if contrary to the provisions of paragraph (e) it will be sent to the Returned Letter Office for disposal.

Articles insufficiently paid:
(i) Stamps to the full value of postage must be affixed at the top right-hand corner of the address side of the envelope.
(ii) Insufficiently prepaid air mail correspondence is only forwarded by air and double the deficiency collected from the addressee if the charges prepaid represent at least the amount of the air mail fee. The air mail fee is regarded as the difference between the combined air postage fee and the ordinary postage rates. Unpaid articles are forwarded by surface transport.
(iii) Articles refused by the addressees will be returned to the senders, who will be required to pay any charges due thereon.

Delivery of Postal Articles
1. Surcharged Articles: The addressee of a surcharged article is not bound to pay the amount due on it to the Post Office if he declines to receive it. In such case, he should write the word “Refused” across the cover. If, however, delivery is taken, the surcharge must be paid. Any complaint of overcharge should be made to the Postmaster of the office of delivery, to whom the article should be taken before being opened.

2. Unpaid postage: Postage due stamps are used for bringing to account all surcharges collected on unpaid and insufficiently paid correspond¬ence.
Members of the public are requested not to accept delivery of such correspondence unless postage due stamps for the amount of the surcharge are affixed to the article in exchange for the cash paid, and cancelled with the official date stamp.

3. Duties of Postmen:
Postmen are prohibited from distributing any letters, newspapers, etc., except such as have passed through a Post Office, whether before beginning their rounds, whilst on their rounds, or after they have completed them; and they are not permitted to deviate from the route laid down for them. They are not allowed to receive any payment beyond the postage due on the unpaid or insufficiently paid mail matter; but this prohibition does not extend to Christmas Boxes.


House to House (Local) Delivery

Registered correspondence, parcels and surcharged letters are retained at the Post Office counters until claimed by the addressee, but the relative slips and cards advising their receipt, are delivered by the postman.

Private Post Office Boxes
1. A Private Post Office Box is provided exclusively for the reception of correspondence which has passed through the post. Any private article deposited therein by a renter will be surcharged as if posted out of course.
2. All correspondence except registered articles, parcels and taxed correspondence for the holder, is sorted into his Private Post Office Box. Delivery receipts for registered articles and parcels, and advices of taxed correspondence are also placed in the boxes and the holders are required to apply at the counter for such articles.

Private Post Bags - Conditions of Rental
The Department undertakes to make up private post bags on the following terms:-

1. At offices where private boxes are installed a private post bag cannot be rented by any resident living within the free delivery area without a private box being rented in addition.

2. The bag may be used for letters for persons in the neighbourhood of the renter’s residence, provided that the permission of the renter is given to the Postmaster in writing. Where such permission is given the renter will be held responsible for all unpaid postage on letters for such persons.

3. Registered packets are not usually delivered until receipts therefore are obtained. In the case of private post bags, however, exception is made and they are enclosed with the relative receipt slips, provided the renter indemnifies the Postmaster-General in writing from all liability and guarantees to return the receipts by first post.

1. Free service: Letters, post cards, newspapers, book and sample packets, may be redirected free of charge, whether redirected by an officer of the Post Office or by an agent of the addressee after delivery, provided the articles do not appear to have been opened or tampered with, and are reposted not later than the day following delivery (an intervening Sunday or public holiday is not counted). Parcels will be redirected free only within the delivery area of the same Post Office. If redirected by the public they must be handed in over the Post Office counter.
Registered articles, when redirected by an officer of the Post Office are not liable to an additional charge for registration.

2. Paid service: If the postage affixed to a redirected postal article be not equal to the charge leviable on a similar article posted in the country of origin, and directly addressed to the country of ultimate destination, the difference between the postage affixed and the postage payable at the ordinary tariff will be levied. Letters, post cards, newspapers, book and sample packets redirected by an agent of the addressee will be charged as though newly posted unpaid if reposted later than the day following delivery (an intervening Sunday or public holiday is not counted).

Articles which appear to have been opened or tampered with will be charged as though newly posted unpaid.
Parcels are liable to additional postage at the prepaid rate for each redirection, except where the original and corrected address is both within the delivery of the same Post Office. They must be handed in over the Post Office counter. If deposited in a posting box, they are additionally liable to a fee of 3d each for being posted out of course.

Registered articles, other than parcels, redirected by the public must be handed in at a Post Office counter not later than the day following delivery (an intervening Sunday or public holiday is not counted). Redirected registered parcels are subject to the same condition as ordinary parcels. Articles handed in later than the day following delivery are subject to fresh postage and registration fees. If a registered article when redirected, instead of being handed in over the Post Office counter to be dealt with as a registered article, is dropped into the letter box as an ordinary article, it becomes liable to the same treatment as any other article which bears registration marks and is found in the letter box, and will be surcharged with a compulsory fee of 6d.

Undelivered Mail
1. Letters containing articles of value: Unregistered letters and packets which are found to contain articles of value are specially recorded, and when the name and address of the sender are given, are registered and returned to the sender, who is called upon to pay a registration fee of 6d, on delivery. Letters of this description which do not bear the sender’s name and address are retained in the Returned Letter Office for a further period of twelve months at the disposal of the sender or addressee. If not claimed, they are sold or otherwise disposed of as provided by law.

2. Undelivered Parcels: Parcels which cannot be delivered or in regard to which the senders have not requested at the time of posting shall be treated as abandoned are returned to the sender and fresh postage at the ordinary parcel rate is charged. Parcels which for any reason cannot be returned to the sender are sold or otherwise disposed of as provided by Law.

3. Undelivered air mail correspondence: is returned to the country of origin by ordinary post.

4. Collection of postage: The sender is legally liable for any charges properly made upon any postal article which has been posted either unpaid or insufficiently prepaid and if the addressee cannot be found or if he refuses to pay the charges or accept delivery of the article, the charges can be recovered by legal process.

1. Acknowledgment of delivery: The sender of any registered postal article may upon application either at the time of posting or at any time within one year thereafter and upon payment of the fee of 3d, asks to be furnished with an acknowledgment by the addressee of the receipt of such article.

2. Compulsory registration:

(a) Any postal article which may be posted otherwise than as laid down in paragraph 4 and which may bear any inscription or mark which may reasonably be assumed to indicate that it was the intention of the sender that such article should be regis-tered, will upon detection, be registered and subjected to the fee of 6d for compulsory registration in addition to the ordinary postage due upon such letter or packet, and any unregistered postal article which there is reasonable cause to believe contains jewellery, money (notes or coin) a blank uncrossed postal order, uncrossed bearer cheque or warrant, postage stamps, coupons having a marketable value or any other enclosure exceeding ten shillings in value in each case, will be similarly treated.
(b) Any postal article which has been compulsorily registered on the ground of its being supposed to contain a valuable enclosure and which is opened in the presence of the officer delivering the same and found not to contain any such enclosure, shall be delivered free of charge in respect of registration.

Post Cards
1. The reply half of a reply-paid post card is available for trans-mission to the country of origin and to that country alone. If addressed to another country, a reply half shall be treated as an unpaid postcard.
2. An ordinary international post card of one country posted in another shall be treated as an unpaid post card.
3. Post cards which do not comply with the conditions laid down for this class of correspondence shall be treated as letters, unless they are eligible for transmission as printed packets.

Newspapers: The newspaper rate only applies provided the packaging is per Post Office regulations. Contravention of the rules may subject newspapers sent through the post to be charged at the printed papers or letter rate.

Printed Papers, Commercial Papers, Sample Post: The September 1939 Post Office Guide contains five pages of regulations. Surprisingly not a single line of text refers to what course of action may be taken in the event that the regulations are contravened.

Readers should bear in mind that the above information was relevant at the time the Post Office guide was published and that the rules, regulations, fees and surcharges were subject to change over the years. The most significant difference in the Northern Rhodesia guide compared to the Southern Rhodesia and Nyasaland rules is the fee for compulsory registration being 6d instead of the usual double registration fee of 8d.


Extracts from the Crown Agents Requisition Books: The dues were printed in sheets of 60 and being new issue G.P.O. specimens were required for each duty.
















1See notes below



















24.11. 32














24.1. 34


25.1. 34








27.11. 35





Reqd. in Livingstone by 1.1. 36
























100 sheets airmail balance parcel post

May 39







2See notes below








Reqd. urgently

July 40


















22.11. 44













1d Reqd. urgently









Dec 49


Oct 49













15,000 to Bureau








Bureau exchange 14,800 each value

 1Number of Sheets ordered: 1d 366, 2d 326, 3d 203 and 4d 215. The sheets were interleaved with wax paper and numbered from 1 up. In addition the Crown Agents Bureau received a supply for distribution to the stamp trade consisting of 1d 200, 2d 160, 3d 120 and 4d 90 sheets.
It was the usual practice that sheets set aside for the stamp trade did not have sheet numbers applied to them.
Reprints: All in sheets of 60 and despatched with wax interleaving. On every reprint order the sheets were numbered from 1 up.

22d by parcel post to reach Livingstone 20.6.39 - Rest by 1.9.39

The October 1951 reprint was the last for the Northern Rhodesia Postage Dues as there are Nil entries in Crown Agent Requisition books No. 9 (1952) and No.10 (1954)

More to follow Soon