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
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:
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
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
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.
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
(a) does not bear the requisite postage;
(b) from any word or marks thereon appears to be intended
(c) is addressed to or from places outside Northern Rhodesia
or Southern Rhodesia, i.e., beyond the Congo border, Umtali
(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
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
(iii) Articles refused by the addressees will be returned
to the senders, who will be required to pay any charges due
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
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
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.
Post Bags - Conditions of Rental
The Department undertakes to make up private post bags on the
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.