Customs House - Shanghai

Customs House No 13 The Bund Shanghai

Customs House No 13 The Bund Shangha is an eight storey building on the Bund, Shanghai. Built in 1927, the building remains a customs house today. Together with the neighbouring HSBC Building, the Customs House is seen as one of the symbols of the Bund and Shanghai.

The Shanghai Customs House was first set up in the late 17th century, when the Qing dynasty Kangxi Emperor lifted the ban against sea trade after conquering Taiwan. To facilitate trading along the east coast of China, the Qing government set up customs houses in the four coastal provinces of Jiangnan (now split into Jiangsu and Anhui), Zhejiang, Fujian, and Guangdong. The name “Jiangnan Customs House” was abbreviated to “Jiang Customs House”, or Jiang Haiguan (江海关) in Chinese. The principal customs house, originally located at Lianyungang was later set up just outside the east gate of the walled city of Shanghai (then part of Jiangnan Province), by the Huangpu River.

With the development of overseas trade in Shanghai, the location of the customs house became increasingly inconvenient, with foreign merchants preferring to berth their ships further out to sea, near today’s Bund. The governor of Shanghai then set up a check point at the south end of the Bund. Upon further insistence by the British consul to move the customs house inside the British concession, a new customs house was built at the present site. This new house is known as the New Customs House, North Customs House, or “Foreign Customs House”, whereas the old customs house was known as the “Grand Customs House”. In 1853, the rebelling Small Swords Society burnt down the Grand Customs House. In 1860, the Taiping Revolution Army burnt down the rebuilt Grand Customs House. It was decided not to rebuild the Grand Customs House, with the current building becoming the new headquarters.