What is the TIR Customs Convention and what does it apply to?

14 June, 2022 |

Customs clearance, for many people working in the transport industry, has so far been associated mainly with transport, for example to Russia. Most transport companies in Poland operate mainly in the European Union, where we have free movement of goods. The situation changed after January 1, 2021. Great Britain officially ceased to be a member of the EU. Therefore, many transport and shipping companies have to deal with the novelty in the form of documentation and customs clearance. Therefore, in today’s article, we will present the topics related to the TIR system.

How the TIR Convention was created

In 1975, the principles of the TIR system were discussed in detail for the first time at a conference organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). The works lasted until 1978, when the Convention officially entered into force. For over 40 years, the provisions of the TIR Convention have been applied consistently and are considered to be one of the best customs procedures. It was only in 1995 that the Convention was amended to standardize and simplify it.

What is the TIR Convention about

The TIR Convention (abbreviation from French TIR – Transport International Routier – meaning international road transport) is a customs procedure aimed at facilitating the flow of customs goods and alleviating the inconvenience related to customs and guarantee controls. Thanks to the provisions of the TIR customs convention, a vehicle transporting customs goods has many facilities at the borders of transit countries. The procedure does not include transshipments.

How it works exactly

When the carrier loads the customs goods in State A, they are checked and sealed there (at the border of that country or at any customs office in the country). It then travels to the destination country (Country B), and passes many other countries on the journey in transit. Thanks to the TIR procedure, border control at individual borders of transit countries is simplified to a minimum. Only the TIR Carnet is checked, not the goods themselves.

Only when the carrier arrives in the destination country is the cargo unsealed and inspected at the designated customs office. The TIR system makes transport much faster, as we avoid multiple checks on goods at the borders of transit countries.

Restrictions that must be met in order for the cargo to be released from customs clearance in transit:

  • the route is prescribed or approved by the customs authorities;
  • the vehicle must have a certificate of technical capacity allowing for international road transport under customs seal (i.e. having a customs rope on the trailer);
  • the semi-trailer with the goods is sealed with customs seals by the customs authorities of the country of dispatch;
  • the cargo may be unloaded only in the destination country. Nor can it be reloaded in a country other than that shown on the TIR carnet;
  • the driver must have a TIR carnet in the cabin of the car.

Moreover, not every vehicle can transport customs goods under the TIR procedure. In particular, the load compartment must be constructed in such a way that:

  • no one could take out or put in the goods without visible signs of break-in;
  • the customs seal could be easily affixed;
  • it did not contain any caches, hidden floors, etc., which could be used for smuggling;
  • the cargo area was easily accessible to the inspection services.
  • a plate with a white inscription TIR
  • a plate with a white inscription TIR. Source: wikipedia.pl

However, the vehicle itself must be marked with a blue plate with a white inscription TIR – it is a clear signal that the vehicle uses the TIR convention.

The catalog of goods that can be transported under the TIR procedure is very wide, and the restrictions are mainly imposed on:

  • cigarettes (product code: 02/24/10, 02/24/20, 03/24/11 and 03/24/19);
    alcohol (product code: 22.07.10, 22.08).
  • These goods are completely excluded from transport under the cover of TIR Carnets. However, there is a derogation from this which allows the following goods to be transported under the TIR procedure: beer, wine and also raw tobacco which is used for the manufacture of cigarettes.

Who can use the international transport of goods under the TIR Convention?

At the moment, 65 countries use the TIR customs procedure. The TIR Convention covers all of Europe as well as North Africa, the Middle East, and even the United States and Canada. Of course, the Convention does not apply between EU countries, because we are dealing with a single customs territory. But in the case of transport from an EU member state to, for example, Russia, Belarus or Great Britain, we can use this procedure the most. The guarantee amount for each TIR carnet is € 100,000 in the European Union countries and in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Serbia and Ukraine, € 60,000 in Russia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Moldova and Belarus, and 50 $ 000 in other states Parties to the TIR Convention.

TIR carnet – rules of use

The main document in the TIR customs procedure is the TIR carnet, which covers the vehicle and the load.

The only international organization authorized to print and distribute carnets is the IRU International Road Transport Union. On the other hand, in Poland, the ZMPD Association of International Road Carriers is responsible for issuing carnets in the TIR system. As a rule, one pass can be used for one trip – for one vehicle or combination of vehicles. The pass consists of a cover, volets and dryers (spines). Each pair of volets and driers is used in each country transported under the TIR Convention.

ZMPD offers 6- and 14-volt TIR carnets – their number must be at least equal to the number of countries through which the vehicle with customs goods will pass.

TIR carnet validity

In accordance with the TIR Convention, each TIR carnet is valid for 120 days from its issue. Both the used and unused pass, but with the expiring date, is returned to the ZMPD. Each pass holder must have a copy of the pass at the company’s premises, which must be kept for 5 years.

It is forbidden to lend passes to third parties. However, there is a separate procedure based on subcontracting where another user’s TIR Carnets may be used on the basis of relevant contracts.

How much is the TIR carnet?

The price of one pass is approximately 40 €.

It is forbidden to lend passes to third parties. However, there is a separate procedure based on subcontracting where another user’s TIR Carnets may be used on the basis of relevant contracts.

Conditions for obtaining a TIR carnet

In Poland, legal and natural persons who have obtained permission to use the TIR procedure, issued by the Director of the Tax Administration Chamber in Warsaw, may apply for TIR carnets. First of all, you need to submit:

an application at the ZMPD headquarters – it includes, among others applicant’s name, EORI number, individual identification number assigned by ZMPD;
opinion issued by ZMPD on the applicant’s ability to use the TIR procedure;
a copy of the international license;
information from the bank about the applicant’s account, turnover, loans, receivables;
declaration of the applicant on non-infringement of customs law.
In addition, the applicant has to provide a financial security (cash deposit, bank guarantee or insurance) for an amount of EUR 100,000 and undergo training in the TIR procedure.

The possession of the TIR carnet is associated with facilitations, but also with obligations. Each TIR carnet must be returned within a specified period. In the event of loss of the subscription, this fact should be immediately reported to the ZMPD, attaching the appropriate form. Detailed information on obtaining passes, collecting, returning and supplementing passes can be found on the ZMPD website.