Extracts from the Tea Act (1773)


In May 1773 the British parliament passed the Tea Act. This statute provided the British East India Company, at the time struggling with large debts and a glut of tea stocks, with exclusive rights to export tea to the American colonies.


“An act to allow a drawback of the duties of customs on the exportation of tea to any of his Majesty’s colonies or plantations in America; to increase the deposit on bohea tea to be sold at the India Company’s sales; and to empower the commissioners of the treasury to grant licences to the East India Company to export tea duty-free…

The said united company of merchants of England trading to the East Indies are obliged to give security, under their common seal, for payment of the duties of customs upon all unrated goods imported by them, so soon as the same shall be sold; and for exposing such goods to sale, openly and fairly, by way of auction… within the space of three years from the importation thereof…

It is expedient that some provision should be made to permit the said company, in certain cases, to export tea, on their own account, to the British plantations in America, or to foreign parts, without exposing such tea to sale here, or being charged with the payment of any duty for the same…

From the passing of this act it shall and may be lawful for the commissioners of his Majesty’s treasury… to grant a licence or quantity of licences to the said company, to take out of their warehouses such quantity or quantities of tea as the said commissioners of the treasury… shall think proper, without the same having been exposed to sale in this kingdom; and to export such tea to any of the British colonies or plantations in America, or to foreign parts, discharged from the payment of any customs or duties whatsoever…”

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