Transports Internationaux Routiers
Under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the TIR transit system was developed soon after the Second World War in order to help revitalise the economies of post war Europe. The TIR Agreement was concluded in 1949 and its success led to the establishment in 1959 of the first TIR Convention.
The TIR system is the international customs transit system with the widest geographical coverage. As other customs transit procedures, the TIR procedure enables goods to move under customs control across international borders without the payment of the duties and taxes that would normally be due at importation (or exportation). A condition of the TIR procedure is that the movement of the goods must include transport by road.
Goods move from a customs office of departure in one country to a customs office of destination in another country under cover of an internationally accepted customs transit document, the TIR carnet, which also provides a financial guarantee for the payment of the suspended duties and taxes. The guarantee system is managed by an international organisation, which is currently the International Road Transport Union (IRU).
Although each EU Member State is a Contracting Party to the TIR Convention, the European Union is considered to be a single territory for the purposes of the TIR procedure. This means TIR can only be used in the Union for international movements, i. e. where the movement either starts or ends in a third country, or where the goods move between two or more EU Member States via the territory of a third country.
The TIR transit system is founded on the following five main principles (the so-called pillars):
• the use of secure vehicles or containers,
• the international guarantee chain,
• the TIR carnet,
• the mutual recognition of customs controls, and
• controlled access to use the system.
The TIR Convention establishes an international customs transit system with maximum facility to move goods:
• in sealed vehicles or containers;
• from a customs office of departure in one country to a customs office of destination in another country;
• without requiring extensive and time-consuming border checks at intermediate borders;
• while, at the same time, providing customs authorities with the required security and guarantees.
The TIR system not only covers customs transit by road but a combination is possible with other modes of transport (e.g., rail, inland waterway, and even maritime transport), as long as at least one part of the total transport is made by road.
As of July 2016, there are 70 parties to the TIR Convention which includes 69 states and the European Union.