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International carriage of cargo by road vehicles involves crossing the borders of one or more countries and passing through customs clearance and control.

To simplify the formalities and to minimize delays at the borders the TIR Convention was signed in 1975 and came into force in 1978.

TIR is the abbreviation for Customs Convention on the International Transportation of Goods. The TIR system allows to replace expensive physical inspection in the countries of transit for checking seals and the external conditions of the vehicle. It contains four main requirements:

(1) With regard to security it requires that goods must be carried in such road vehicles or compartments of containers that no goods can be removed from or introduced into the sealed part of the vehicle without breaking customs seal.

(2) The second principle is the guarantee system. The system ensures that customs duties and taxes during transit operations are paid at any moment by a National Guaranteeing Association, if the transport operator cannot be held responsible.

(3) The third principle is the TIR Carnet. The goods must be accompanied by an internationally accepted documentCarnet, issued at the check point within the country of departure and serving as a control document at the borders in the countries of departure, transit and destination.

(4) The last principle is the international recognition of customs control measures: when goods are transported under this transit regime, the Customs office of departure checks the goods, seals the vehicle, reports it in the TIR Carnet and the cargo is transported without further unloading and inspection in the countries of departure, transit and destination.

When the cargo arrives at the Customs office of destination, they become responsible for the goods to be transferred to another Customs procedure.

Nowadays the Convention has been signed by more than 50 Contracting Parties. It covers the European Union, North Africa, Near and Middle East, the USA, Canada, Chile and Uruguay. A number of countries in Western and Central Africa and Latin America are also considering the establishment of the TIR system.

Since 1978 the Convention has proved that it is one of the most successful transit systems because it contains provisions for a multi-modal transit regime in line with modern techniques and requirements and offers transport operators and Customs authorities a simple, cost-effective and safe regime for the international transportation of goods across frontiers.

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