Transport in transit

Customs transit is a customs procedure allowing the transport of goods between two points in the European Union (EU) customs territory, via another customs territory or between two or more different customs territories.

It allows a temporary suspension of duties and taxes due on importation.

The following transit systems are the most commonly used in the EU:

  • common Transit and Union Transit
  • TIR Customs Transit, with the use of a TIR Carnet.

The use of the New Computerized Transit System (NCTS) is mandatory for both external and internal Union and common transits. Customs duties and other taxes applicable to goods are temporarily suspended when these goods are released for common/Union transit. In order to ensure the payment of duties, the holder of the procedure is required to provide a guarantee.

Common Transit

Common Transit results from the implementation of international conventions between the EU and the other countries participating in these conventions:

  • the member countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA): Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • the Republic of North Macedonia
  • Serbia.

The Common Transit procedure (T1 for non-Union goods and T2 for Union goods) is used to transport goods under duties and taxes suspension between the EU and the common transit countries, and between the common transit countries themselves.

For example: electronic components from China are sent by truck under T1/Common Transit from Germany to their destination in Switzerland. The Common Transit procedure is used to transport goods directly to a customs office inside Switzerland, without having to present goods to customs at the Swiss border.

Union Transit

Union Transit is a suspensive customs procedure whose rules are defined by the Union Customs Code. Union Transit is applicable to movements of goods from one point in the EU to another. Its use is extended to movements of goods with Andorra and the Republic of San Marino, following special agreements made with these territories.

There are different cases of Union transit:

  • external Union Transit (T1) is used to transport non-Union goods between the Member States of the EU (and Andorra and the Republic of San Marino) under duties and taxes suspension

For example: bananas from Brazil are transported by truck under T1/Union Transit from Luxembourg to their destination in Paris  

  • internal Transit procedure from the Union (T2) is used to transport Union goods that are moved from one point to another of the Union customs territory and must cross a country or territory outside of this territory without any change in their customs status.

For example: cloth is sent by truck under T2/Union Transit from Germany to its destination in Italy. The goods may cross Swiss territory: the transit ends at the competent customs office in Italy

  • internal Union Transit (T2F) is used to transport Union goods between Member States of the European Union and the special territories of the EU such as the French Overseas Departments, the Channel Islands, Mount Athos and the Aland Islands or the Canary Islands.

For example: bananas from Martinique are moved by vessel to Antwerp and then are transported further by road under T2F/Union Transit from Antwerp to their final destination in Paris.

TIR (Transports Internationaux Routiers) transit

The TIR system results from the implementation of an international convention between the signatory countries. On 25 July 2018, there were 73 contracting parties to the TIR Convention, including the European Union and its 28 Member States.

In practice, the use of the TIR system is accompanied by a TIR Carnet composed of a cover, a manifesto and a variable number of sheets according to the needs (two sheets per country of transit).

The TIR Carnet allows to move goods between countries that are part of the TIR Convention. The Carnet is presented to local customs offices at each border passage without having to complete other customs procedures.

The TIR Carnet is reserved for road transport.  Alcohols and tobaccos cannot be transported under a TIR Carnet.

Related procedures

The procedures explaining how to proceed are available on the website:

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