UPU Administrative Conference on Air Mail, The Hague


Union of Soviet Socialist Republics - stamp UPU Administrative Conference on Air Mail, The Hague 1927 - block of fourApart from the ordinary or extraordinary Congresses, the UPU Constitution used to provide for Administrative Conferences for the consideration of purely technical questions.


Before the 1984 Hamburg Congress decided to do away with the possibilities of holding Administrative Conferences, the Union had availed itself of this possibility only three times, namely:


1.        at Berne in 1876 (17-27 January), on the question of the admission of British India and the Whole of the French Colonies as members of the UPU, and to establish maritime transit charges affecting distances greater than from Europe to the United States of America and Egypt;

2.        in Paris in 1880 (9 October-3 November), to conclude a Special Convention specially concerning the exchange of postal parcels; the delegates to this Conference had, however, plenipotentiary powers;

3.        at The Hague in 1927 (1-10 September), to lay down provisions in respect of air mail.


At the Stockholm Congress in 1924, the possibility of using the airplane for the transportation of mail gained momentum and airmail transport was considered as an "extraordinary" ground service; the determination of the rates were left to the administrations using it. Although the latter agreement had been in existence for only one year, a need for modification was recognized to consider unifying airmail surtaxes demanded of the public and to simplify the method of remunerating the air transport companies.


As the signatory governments were bound by a five-year agreement during which time amendments to the convention were practically impossible to obtain and as the use of air transport had become sufficiently widespread, the Post Office of the USSR took the step in March 1927 of formally proposing a special Administrative Conference of UPU (Air Mail Conference on Postal Administration) for the consideration of the technical question of airmail provisions.


Called at the suggestion of the Air Transport Committee of the International Chamber of Commerce (Chambre de Commerce Internationale, CCI) and the official initiative of the Postal Office of the USSR, this Conference met at The Hague, Netherlands, from 1 to 10 September 1927, and was attended by seventy-nine representatives of thirty-five members of the UPU; the large participation indicated an awareness of the importance which airmail would have.


Post card and special postmark The Hague 9 September 1927This Conference resulted in an agreement that established the airline companies as officially recognized carriers of mail at the remuneration of 6 gold francs per kilogram. It also initiated some significant rules and regulations concerning the acceptance and rapid delivery of airmail by the signatory powers, the expeditious handling of airmail by countries without air services, and the basis of accounting procedures for international airmail.


The The Hague Conference of 1927 laid down the first airmail provisions, an event of historic importance in view of the fantastic development of that means of transportation in the international post. The UPU London Congress adopted in 1929 the Air Mail Regulations that were established by this Conference. One of the provisions agreed upon was that the "par avion" labels should have a blue colour and when the mail did not actually travel by air, such labels or annotations should be crossed out.


Later, more restricted meetings of countries directly concerned took place in Europe, with the participation of aeronautical authorities (the European Airmail Conferences held in Brussels, October 1930 and June 1938). The primary concern of this meeting was to take advantage of the speed provided by air transport for the benefit of the mail service between the principal cities.


During the 1927 conference a special postmark was used to commemorate this occasion and in the Netherlands two privately produced post cards were issued to the participants.


It should be noted that some sources name special Conferences at Zermatt (1921) and Nice (1922). No further information is available at this moment.





Union of Soviet Socialist Republics                           1 September 1927









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last revised: 3 September 2010