British Post Abroad:

Postal History

The British Post abroad refers to the network of post offices established by the United Kingdom in various foreign countries and territories during the 19th and early 20th centuries. These offices were set up to facilitate communication and trade for British nationals and interests in these regions. Here is an overview of notable British post offices abroad and the postage stamps issued by them.

Historical Context

  • Expansion of the British Empire: During the 19th century, the British Empire expanded significantly, establishing colonies, protectorates, and spheres of influence around the world. To support this expansion, the British government set up postal services in strategic locations to serve both British expatriates and local residents.
  • International Trade and Communication: The establishment of British post offices abroad was driven by the need for reliable communication channels to support international trade, diplomatic relations, and military operations.

Notable British Post Offices Abroad

British Post Offices in the Ottoman Empire (Turkey)

  • Introduction: British post offices were established in key Ottoman cities such as Constantinople (Istanbul), Smyrna (Izmir), and Beirut.
  • Stamps Issued: The offices initially used British stamps, later overprinted with the name of the city or a local currency denomination.
  • Constantinople Overprints: British stamps with overprints like “C” and “CONS” to denote Constantinople.
  • Levant Overprints: Stamps with “LEVANT” overprinted to indicate use in the Levant region.

British Post Offices in China

  • Treaty Ports: British post offices were established in treaty ports like Shanghai, Canton (Guangzhou), and Amoy (Xiamen).
  • Stamps Issued: British stamps were overprinted with the name of the treaty port and sometimes the local currency.
  • Shanghai Overprints: British stamps overprinted with “Shanghai L.P.O.” (Local Post Office).
  • Canton Overprints: Stamps with “Canton” overprinted for use in the city.

British Post Offices in Morocco

  • Tangier: One of the most notable British post offices was in Tangier.
  • Stamps Issued: British stamps were overprinted with “Morocco Agencies” and denominated in local currency (pesetas and centimos).
  • Morocco Agencies Overprints: A variety of overprints reflecting the changing political situation and currencies used in the region.

British Post Offices in Zanzibar

  • Introduction: Established to support British interests in East Africa.
  • Stamps Issued: British stamps were overprinted with “Zanzibar.”
  • Zanzibar Overprints: Included both basic overprints and those indicating specific denominations in annas and rupees.

British Post Offices in Crete

  • Historical Context: Established during the international administration of Crete in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • Stamps Issued: British stamps overprinted with “CANDIA” and other regional identifiers.
  • Candia Overprints: Reflecting the administrative center of the British presence in Crete.

British Post Offices in Egypt

  • Alexandria and Port Said: Key locations with British post offices.
  • Stamps Issued: British stamps overprinted with the names of the cities.
  • Alexandria Overprints: Used to indicate mail processed through the British post office in Alexandria.
  • Port Said Overprints: Reflecting the strategic importance of the Suez Canal.

Collecting British Post Abroad Stamps

  • Rarity and Value: Stamps from British post offices abroad can be highly valuable, especially those with unique or rare overprints.
  • Popular Themes: Collectors often focus on specific regions, overprints, and historical contexts.
  • Philatelic Societies: Many philatelic societies and clubs specialize in British colonial and foreign post office stamps, offering resources, exhibitions, and community support for collectors.>/LI>

Key Highlights

  • Constantinople and Levant Overprints: Represent the extensive British postal presence in the Ottoman Empire.
  • Shanghai and Canton Overprints: Reflect British influence in the treaty ports of China.
  • Morocco Agencies Overprints: Show the complex currency and political situation in Morocco.
  • Zanzibar Overprints: Highlight British interests in East Africa.
  • Candia Overprints: Mark the international administration period in Crete.
  • Alexandria and Port Said Overprints: Indicate the strategic importance of Egypt and the Suez Canal.


The postage stamps from British post offices abroad offer a fascinating glimpse into the global reach of the British Empire and its impact on international postal services. From Constantinople to Shanghai, these stamps reflect the geopolitical and economic interests of Britain during the height of its colonial power. Collectors of British post abroad stamps delve into a rich history of overprints, regional issues, and the intricate details of postal administration in diverse and strategic locations around the world. This overview serves as a comprehensive guide for understanding and appreciating the unique and historically significant stamps issued by British post offices abroad.