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Frequently Asked Questions and issues
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Training for professional dirvers
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T I R    S Y S T E M

The TIR Convention has proved to be one of the most effective international instruments prepared under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). To date, it has 67 Contracting Parties, including the European Community. It covers the whole of Europe and reaches out to North Africa and the Near and Middle East. Countries in Asia have been informed about the facilities of this global Customs transit system and their interest has shown that they may well join the TIR Convention in the not too distant future. Already today, the United States of America and Canada are Contracting Parties as well as Chile and Uruguay in South America.

The success of the TIR system may also be judged by the number of TIR Carnets distributed and issued every year. Whilst in 1952 only a little over 3,000 TIR Carnets were issued, this number increased steadily reaching 100,000 in 1960, then 800,000 in 1970. During the seventies and eighties the demand for TIR Carnets floated between around 500,000 and 900,000. This can be explained by the enlargement of the European Community which utilizes its own Community Transit System within its territory. Thus, TIR Carnets cannot be used for Customs transit operations within its member countries.

As a result of the expanding East-West European trade, particularly since 1989, and the corresponding tremendous increase in international road transport, the number of TIR Carnets issued, exceeded one million in 1992 and has now reached 3.6 million (2006) which represents the start of nearly 10,000 TIR transports every day in more than 55 countries and well over 50,000 TIR border crossing procedures daily.

The number of transport companies authorized by national Customs authorities to utilize TIR Carnets amounts to more than 38,000.

The accession of a number of Central European countries to the European Community in 2004 has, so far, not led to a decrease in the number of TIR transport operations in this part of Europe. At the same time it can be expected that the number of TIR transport operations in and to the countries of the Middle East and Asia will continue to increase in the future.

In substance, the tremendous increase in the use of the TIR Customs transit system can be explained by the special features of the TIR regime which offer transport operators and Customs authorities a simple, flexible, cost-effective and secure Customs regime for the international transport of goods across frontiers. The TIR system has been devised to facilitate to the maximum extent the international movement of goods under Customs seals. The system provides transit countries with the required guarantees to cover the Customs duties and taxes at risk. A balance is struck between the responsibilities of the Customs authorities and those of the international trading community.

For Customs, the TIR system:

  • Reduces the normal requirements of national transit procedures (as regards Customs control measures at frontiers)
  • Avoids the need - expensive in manpower and facilities - for physical inspection in countries of transit, other than checking seals and the external conditions of the load compartment or container and checking the accompanying documents
  • Protects the duties and taxes at risk which are ‘guaranteed’ – up to USD 50’000 or EUR 60’000 per TIR transport
  • Reduces the risk of presenting inaccurate information to Customs administrations (the international transit operation is covered by a single and harmonised transit document, the TIR Carnet)

For the transport operators, the TIR system:

  • Enables goods to travel across national frontiers with a minimum of interference and delays by Customs administrations
  • Reduces waiting times at borders in line with the principles of the International Convention on the Harmonization of Frontier Controls of Goods 1982 (Annex 8), in particular for bilateral transports
  • Allows exporters and importers to select more easily the type of transport most suitable for their needs by reducing the impediments to international traffic by road caused by Customs controls
  • Allows the use of simplified documentation
  • Gives access to 57 countries
  • Avoids the need to deposit a guarantee covering the duties and taxes at transit borders
  • Allows small and medium sized transport operators to competitively access global markets whilst retaining their commercial independence

For international trade, the TIR system:

  • Encourages the development of international trade in a secure and controlled environment by easing traditional impediments to the international movement of goods
  • Enables significant economies to be made in transport costs by reducing delays in transit
  • Facilitates international trade





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