|By the Grace of God!
We, Catherine the second, Empress and Autocrat of all the Russians at
Moscow, Kiev, Vladimdr, Novgorod, Czarina of Kasan, Czarina of Astradian,
Czarina of Siberia, Lady of Pleskow and Grand Duchess of Smolensko, Duchess
of Esthonia and Livland, Carelia, Twer, Yugoria, Perrnia, Viatka and Bulgaria
and others; Lady and Grand Duchess of Novgorod in the Netherland of Chemigov,
Resan, Rostov, Yaroslav, Beloosena, Udoria, Obdoria, Condinia, and Ruler
of the entire North region and Lady of the Yurish, of the Cartalinian and
Grusinian czars and the Cabardinian land, of the Cherkessian and Gorisian
princes and the lady of the manor and sovereign of many others. As
We are sufficiently aware of the vast extent of the lands within Our Empire,
We perceive, among other things, that a considerable number of regions
are still uncultivated which could easily and advantageously be made available
for productive use of population and settlement. Most of the lands
hold hidden in their depth an inexhaustible wealth of all kinds of precious
ores and metals, and because they are well-provided with forests, rivers
and lakes, and located close to the sea for purpose of trade, they are
also most convenient for the development- and growth of many kinds of manufacturing,
plants, and various installations. This induced Us to issue the manifesto
which was published last Dec. 4, 1762, for the benefit of all Our loyal
subjects. However, inasmuch as We made only a summary announcement
of Our pleasure to the foreigners who would like to settle in Our Empire,
we now issue for a better understanding of Our intention the following
decree which We hereby solemnly establish and order to be carried out to
We permit all foreigners to come into Our Empire, in order to settle in
all the gouvemements, just as each one may desire.
After arrival, such foreigners can report for this purpose not only to
the Guardianship Chancellery established for foreigners in Our residence,
but also, if more convenient, to the governor or commanding officer in
one of the border-towns of the Empire.
Since those foreigners who would like to settle in Russia will also include
some who do not have sufficient means to pay the required travel costs,
they can report to our ministers in foreign courts, who will not only transport
them to Russia at Our expense, but also provide them with travel money.
As soon as these foreigners arrive in Our residence and report at the -Guardianship
Chancellery or in a border-town, they shall be required to state their
true decision, whether their real desire is to be enrolled in the guild
of merchants or artisans, and become citizens, and in what city; or if
they wish to settle on free, productive land in colonies and rural areas,
to take up agriculture or some other useful occupation. Without delay,
these people will be assigned to their destination, according to their
own wishes and desires. From the following register* it can be seen
in which regions of Our Empire free and suitable lands are still available.
However, besides those listed, there are many more regions and all kinds
of land where We will likewise permit people to settle, just as each one
chooses for his best advantage.
Upon arrival in Our Empire, each foreigner who intends to become a settler
and has reported to the Guardianship Chancellery or in other border-towns
of Our Empire and, as already prescribed in § 4, has declared his
decision, must take the oath of allegiance in accordance with his religious
In order that the foreigners who desire to settle in Our Empire may realize
the extent of Our benevolence to their benefit and advantage, this is Our
All the afore-mentioned privileges shall be enjoyed not only by those who
have come into our country to settle there, but also their children and
descendants, even though these are born in Russia, with the provision that
their years of exemption will be reckoned from the day their forebears
arrived in Russia.
We grant to all foreigners coming into Our Empire the free and unrestricted
practice of their religion according to the precepts and usage of their
Church. To those, however, who intend to settle not in cities but
in colonies and villages on uninhabited lands we grant the freedom to build
churches and belltowers, and to maintain the necessary number of priests
and church servants, but not the construction of monasteries. On
the other hand, everyone is hereby warned not to persuade or induce any
of the Christian co-religionists living in Russia to accept or even assent
to his faith or join his religious community, under pain of incurring the
severest punishment of Our laws. This prohibition does not apply
to the various nationalities on the borders of Our Empire who are attached
to the Mahometan faith. We permit and allow everyone to win them
over and make them subject to the Christian religion in a decent way.
None of the foreigners who have come to settle in Russia shall be required
to pay the slightest taxes to Our treasury, nor be forced to render regular
or extraordinary services, nor to billet troops. Indeed, everybody
shall be exempt from all taxes and tribute in the following manner: those
who have been settled as colonists with their families in hitherto uninhabited
regions will enjoy 30 years of exemption; those who have established themselves,
at their own expense, in cities as merchants and tradesmen in Our Residence
St. Petersburg or in the neighboring cities of Livland, Esthonia, Ingermanland,
Carelia and Finland, as well as in the Residential city of Moscow, shall
enjoy 5 years of tax-exemption. Moreover, each one who comes to Russia,
not just for a short while but to establish permanent domicile, shall be
granted free living quarters for half a year.
All foreigners who settle in Russia either to engage in agriculture and
some trade, or to undertake to build factories and plants will be offered
a helping hand and the necessary loans required for the construction of
factories useful for the future, especially of such as have not yet been
built in Russia.
For the building of dwellings, the purchase of livestock needed for the
farmstead, the necessary equipment, materials, and tools for agriculture
and industry, each settler will receive the necessary money from Our treasury
in the form of an advance loan without any interest. The capital
sum has to be repaid only after ten years, in equal annual instalments
in the following three years.
We leave to the discretion of the established colonies and village the
internal constitution and jurisdiction, in such a way that the persons
placed in authority by Us will not interfere with the internal affairs
and institutions. In other respects the colonists will be liable
to Our civil laws. However, in the event that the people would wish
to have a special guardian or even an officer with a detachment of disciplined
soldiers for the sake of security and defense, this wish would also be
To every foreigner who wants to settle in Russia We grant complete duty-free
import of his property, no matter what it is, provided, however, that such
property is for personal use and need, and not intended for sale.
However, any family that also brings in unneeded goods for sale will be
granted free import on goods valued up to 300 rubles, provided that the
family remains in Russia for at least 10 years. Failing which, it
will be required, upon its departure, to pay the duty both on the incoming
and outgoing goods.
The foreigners who have settled in Russia shall not be drafted against
their will into the military or the civil service during their entire stay
here. Only after the lapse of the years of tax-exemption can they
be required to provide labor service for the country. Whoever wishes
to enter military service will receive, besides his regular pay, a gratuity
of 30 rubles at the time he enrolls in the regiment.
As soon as the foreigners have reported to the Guardianship Chancellery
or to our border towns and declared their decision to travel to the interior
of the Empire and establish domicile there, they will forthwith receive
food rations and free transportation to their destination.
Those among the foreigners in Russia who establish factories, Plants, or
firms, and produce goods never before manufactured in Russia, will be permitted
to sell and export freely for ten years, without paying export duty or
Foreign capitalists who build factories, plants, and concerns in Russia
at their own expense are permitted to purchase serfs and peasants needed
for the operation of the factories.
We also permit all foreigners who have settled in colonies or villages
to establish market days and annual market fairs as they see fit, without
having to pay any dues or taxes to Our treasury.
After the lapse of the stipulated years of exemption, all the foreigners
who have settled in Russia are required to pay the ordinary moderate contributions
and, like our other subjects, provide labor-service for their country.
Finally, in the event that any foreigner who has settled in Our Empire
and has become subject to Our authority should desire to leave the country,
We shall grant him the liberty to do so, provided, however, that he is
obligated to remit to Our treasury a portion of the assets he has gained
in this country; that is, those who have been here from one to five years
will pay one-fifth, while those who have been here for five or more years
will pay one-tenth. Thereafter each one will be permitted to depart
unhindered anywhere he pleases to go.
If any foreigner desiring to settle in Russia wishes for certain reasons
to secure other privileges or conditions besides those already stated,
he can apply in writing or in person to our Guardianship Chancellery, which
will report the petition to Us. After examining the circumstances,
We shall not hesitate to resolve the matter in such a way that the petitioner's
confidence in Our love of justice will not be disappointed. Given
at the Court of Peter, July 22, 1763
in the Second Year of Our Reign.
The original was signed by Her Imperial Supreme Majesty's own hand in
the following manner:
Printed by the Senate, July 25, 1763