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A Review Conference convened in November 1975 under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) produced the TIR Convention of 1975 that came into force in 1978. Since that time the TIR Convention has proved that it is one of the most successful international transport conventions and is in fact so far the only universal Customs transit system in existence. The idea behind the TIR Convention and its transit regime has formed the basis for many regional transit systems and has thus, directly and indirectly, contributed to the facilitation of international transport, especially international road transport, not only in Europe and the Middle East, but also in other parts of the world, such as Africa and Latin America.

TIR’ stands for Transports Internationaux Routiers (International Road Transport) and is an international Customs transit system. TIR is the only universal transit system that allows the goods to transit from a country of origin to a country of destination in sealed load compartments with Customs control recognition along the supply chain. This minimises administrative and financial burdens and Customs duties and taxes that may become due are covered by an international guarantee.

Work on the TIR transit system started soon after the Second World War under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). The first TIR Agreement was concluded in 1949 between a small number of European countries. The success of this limited scheme led to the negotiation of a TIR Convention which was adopted in 1959 by the UNECE Inland Transport Committee and entered into force in 1960. This first TIR Convention was revised in 1975 to take account of practical experience in operating the system and to give effect to technical advances and changing Customs and transportation requirements.

These new combined or multimodal transport techniques necessitated the acceptance of the container, under certain conditions, as a Customs secure loading unit. It meant also that the TIR regime no longer only covered road transport, but was extended to rail, inland waterways and even maritime transport, although at least one part of the total transport operation still has to be made by road.

Upon its entry into force the new Convention terminated and replaced the old Convention of 1959. However, the former Convention is still in force for various reasons, one of which is that one of the Contracting Parties to the old Convention (Japan) has not yet acceded to the TIR Convention of 1975.

t the beginning of 2010 the TIR System has 68 Contracting Parties (including the European Union) on four continents. Many more countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America have demonstrated their interest in acceding to the system in the near future Over the past 10 years the number of TIR Carnets issued per year was around 3 million.

The TIR System has proved to be extremely successful and is the only global Customs transit system in existence. This popularity can be explained by the special features of the TIR regime, which offers transport operators and Customs authorities a simple, flexible, cost-effective and secure system for the international transport of goods across frontiers.


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