About the project and project team; Archives; Bibliographies; Information on staff; Meteorological work of the Chinese Maritime Customs; Occasional papers; Online digitized publicationsWritings by or about foreign members of the Customs Service and their families


From 1875 to 1948 the Customs published annually a Service List, which listed all indoor and outdoor employees. This enables researchers to locate the basic career outlines of all employees of a level of seniority to be included (Non-service listed employees were very junior staff – watchmen, porters etc). All foreign employees are listed, and by the later 1920s all Chinese staff of equivalent grades. Having located the basic outlines of the career, a researcher could use the service lists to reconstruct the pattern of appointment and promotion of an individual.


The second issue (1876) of the Service List contained a retrospective listing of all withdrawals since the start of the foreign inspectorate. Chinese Indoor staff are listed commencing 1879 and postal staff from 1901. We do not hold copies of the Service List. Various copies survive in university or national libraries (see our Customs bibliography). The library of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office had an almost complete run from 1876 to 1941, that was transferred to the Library Special Collections at the School of Oriental & African Studies, London University. Some 52 these are now available from the SOAS Digital Collections platform. Harvard University Library has placed a number of digitised issues online. These are accessible through its library catalogue.


The project created a database containing all of records from one key table (‘Withdrawals from Service’, see below) which have been extracted from the service lists published between 1875 and 1948. No Service List was published in 1949. This is now accessible through China Families. Downloadable PDFs of some staff, arranged by nationality can be found on this page.


Aside from staff in service at the end of the foreign inspectorate in 1949-50, the major group missing from the service lists will be Japanese staff who left after 1944, who are not recorded in either the Kishimoto collaborationist Customs based in Shanghai, or the legitimate Customs Service in unoccupied China. Many of these men had long careers before the onset of the Japanese invasion of China. We have filled in the gaps where we published in occupied Shanghai, and by entering all staff in service in mid-1948. Where we have records of staff leaving before the end of 1949 we have entered the details. Colleagues at the Republic of China (ROC) Directorate General of Customs on Taiwan kindly gave us details on many staff members who moved to Taiwan after 1949, or who were serving there that year. There are still some gaps, notably men who were serving in the Postal Department of the Customs in 1911 when it became an independent agency.


Organisation of the Service List

With some variations the basic pattern was, very simply, that employees were listed in order of seniority within rank (eg Commissioner, Examiner), as well as by station. From 1892 a new table recording honours was also published in two parts:


  1. Foreign Staff  :  Chinese and Foreign Honours, etc, held by Members of the Customs Service
  2. Chinese Staff  :  Chinese Official Ranks, etc, held by Members of the Customs Service


Each Service List included a table of ‘Withdrawals from Service’, running from mid-year to mid-year. This included the following basic details:


  • Name
  • Chinese name
  • Nationality
  • Position on first appointment
  • Date of first appointment
  • Position on withdrawal
  • Port stationed when withdrawing
  • Date of final withdrawal
  • Mode of withdrawal (resigned, retired, dismissed etc)
  • Notes


There was also an index.


Norwegian Members of the Chinese Customs Service since 1861


Published in Shanghai in 1938, details of Norwegian staff were extracted from Customs Service Lists from 1875 to 1937, Customs gazettes, Customs papers of officers-in-charge and Postal Service Lists. Click here to download a PDF of this publication. Or here for a colour reproduction of it provided by Special Collections at Queen’s University Belfast.



Two volumes listing all successive officers-in-charge at Customs stations were published in Customs publications Series V, Office Series, as Numbers 19, and 44. The former listing appointments between 1859 and 1921 is here. latter ‘Fifth’ (supplementary) Issue concerning appointments from 1921 up to 1935 is available here.

A Chinese compilation of partly based on these is: Sun Xiufu (comp), Zhongguo Jindai haiguan gaoji zhiyuan nianbiao (Chronological Table of High ranking Staff of the Chinese Maritime Customs Service in Modern China) (Beijing: Zhongguo haiguan Chubanshe, 2004).


125 Customs Careers


Detailed information on the careers of 125 men can be found in the footnotes of the seven-volume series  Documents illustrative of the Origin, Development, and Activities of the Chinese Maritime Customs Service (Shanghai, 1937 – 1940), and is now available here.


War service: 1914-1918


War 1914-1918: Record of Services given and Honours attained by of the Chinese Customs Service (Shanghai, 1922). This volume lists the full name and war service details of foreign staff who served in the allied armies in World War One.


Personal papers of Customs officials in public archives

This page provides a list of personal papers (often including official materials) of staff members of the CMCS.


Books by or about Customs officials

This page provides information about memoirs and biography, travel writing and reportage, written by or about members of the Customs Service and their families.