Following the practice of most European states after First World War, the newly established state of Lithuania also exercised some censorship over a range of postal items addressed to foreign destinations. With time, and affected by the world’s economic crises, Lithuania introduced increasingly strict restrictions over financial transactions as well. Postally, this took the form of strictly prohibiting the enclosing of undeclared cash (e.g. banknotes) in ordinary envelopes to foreign addresses. For that purpose, border post offices were tightly linked to Customs (frequently housed at the local Railway Station), and actual inspection of postal items was acknowledged by affixing special labels. They were of two types: either blank with the checkpoint’s locality stamped or written in, or the locality preprinted. By 1939, Customs checkpoints which applied such labels were located at JONIŠKIS, KAUNAS, KLAIPĖDA, OBELIAI, VIEVIS, VIRBALIS.
The following two items with labels from KLAIPĖDA show (a) an envelope inspected and released, and (b) an envelope inspected and the clandestine amount of 40 Litas discovered and confiscated.
The Lithuanian system partly broke down when on March 22, 1939 KLAIPĖDA was occupied and incorporated into the German Reich. As KLAIPĖDA was Lithuania’s virtually only port and the location of an important Customs branch, its Customs functions had to be transferred without delay. The envelope below shows the KLAIPĖDA Customs label being used in connection with the KAUNAS centr. P.O., as in the circumstances KAUNAS Customs had to take over a lion’s share of the KLAIPĖDA Customs functions.