Foreign Post Offices


1 piaster overprint on 25-centime Type Sage, used at Beirut in December 1885

In the Ottoman Empire there were post offices in various cities run by France between 1812 and 1923. France was one of nine countries that had negotiated "Capitulations" with the Ottomans, various extra-territorial rights in exchange for trade opportunities. In the case of mail, the countries' purpose was to facilitate communication between business interests at home and agents throughout the Middle East. The system came to end with the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.

Originally, the post office used postage stamps of France, but these were denominated in centimes and francs instead of the local piasters, so beginning in 1885, some French stamps were surcharged in piasters, at a rate of four piasters to the franc.

30c, 1902

Beginning in 1902, the Merson series was issued with the inscription "LEVANT", both as centime/franc, and with higher values surcharged in piasters. In 1905, 15c stamps in Beirut were surcharged with "1 Piastre / Beyrouth".

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3-piaster 30-para overprint on French 25c

World War I forced the closure of all the post offices on 13 October 1914. After the war, only the office in Istanbul reopened, operating from August 1921 to July 1923. Stamps of France were again surcharged, with values from 30 paras to 75 piasters.

Four post offices also issued their own stamps between 1893 and 1903: Cavalle (present-day Kavala), Dedeagh (Dedeagatch, present-day Alexandroupoli), Port Lagos, and Vathy (Samos).

Cavalle 4pi
Dedeagh 10c, postmarked 21 March 1913
Port Lagos overprint on 5c
Vathy overprint on 15c



Post offices

  • Alexandretta
  • Beirut
  • Candia (nowadays Iraklion)
  • Canea (nowadays Chania)
  • Castellorizo
  • Cavalle
  • Istanbul
  • Dedeagh
  • Galata
  • Gallipoli
  • Jaffa
  • Jerusalem
  • Kustendje (nowadays Constanţa)
  • Latakia
  • Merson
  • Port Lagos
  • Rhodes
  • Rodosto
  • Salonica
  • Sinope
  • Smyrna
  • Sulina
  • Trebizond
  • Tripoli
  • Tulcea
  • Varna
  • Vathy
  • Volos