What is transit?

Transit is a customs procedure that facilitates the transport of goods and international trade. In transit, goods are transported under customs control from a customs office of departure to a customs office of destination, where they are cleared. Under a transit procedure, goods can be moved within the transit area without paying customs duties or other charges. A guarantee that covers possible customs duties and taxes is needed for this purpose.

When and how is transit used?

  • The transit procedure can be used within the customs territory of the European Union and in countries with common transit (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Turkey, North Macedonia, and Serbia).
  • Transit can be used by any business or private person who is the holder of the transit procedure.
  • The terms Union transit (EU countries) and common transit (other contracting countries) are used for the transit procedure.

 Codes used for the transit procedure

  • The T1 transit procedure, or External Union transit, is used when goods that have not been cleared through Customs are imported from outside the EU, or when goods that have not been cleared are moved within the EU (between Member States or within one Member State).
  • The T2 transit procedure, i.e. transit within the Union, is used when Union goods (i.e. goods produced or cleared for import in the EU) are moved from the EU to countries under common transit or through them and back to the EU. For example, a consignment transported by road from Finland to Switzerland or through Switzerland to Italy.
  • The T2F transit procedure is used when Union goods are transported from regions outside the fiscal territory of the Union (so called special fiscal territories) to another country than the Member State the goods first arrived to (e.g. from the Åland Islands via mainland Finland to Estonia). These special fiscal territories are: The Åland Islands, Mount Athos, the Canary Islands and the overseas departments and territories of France (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, French Guiana, Réunion).

TIR and ATA Carnet in transit

The TIR Carnet is used when undeclared goods or Union goods are transported outside the EU to another country, which is a contracting party of the TIR convention, or returned to the EU via such a country. TIR transit cannot be used solely within the EU.

ATA Carnets are used for the temporary admission of other than commercial goods or for the exportation of goods to e.g. an exhibition or a fair. The ATA Carnet can also be used to transit these goods through territories (e.g. the EU) or countries where temporary admission cannot be used.

Points to consider

The TIR transit procedure is a procedure intended for transport companies and which requires an authorisation. The aim of the procedure is to ensure that the goods are transported without interruption and under customs control to the destination. The procedure can only be implemented by countries, which are contracting parties of the TIR convention. In Finland, TIR Carnets are granted by Finnish Transport and Logistics SKAL. SKAL, who granted the TIR Carnet, functions as a guarantor for the TIR transit, no separate guarantee has to be provided to Customs.

Starting a TIR transit

In addition to the TIR Carnet and attached documents (consignment note CMR and the TIR approval certificate), the declared goods and the mode of transport are presented at the customs office of departure. Customs fills in the necessary particulars in the TIR Carnet, inspects the goods and seals the means of transport.

Declaring TIR data electronically

When transporting within the EU territory, the TIR Carnet data must also be submitted to Customs electronically in addition to the paper TIR Carnet. The holder of the TIR Carnet is responsible for submitting the data in the electronic transit system before the TIR Carnet is presented for endorsement at the customs office of departure. The electronic declaration data can also be submitted via Customs online declaration service.

An operator, who has been granted an authorisation from Customs for message exchange, can submit the TIR Carnet data in the transit system on behalf of the holder of the TIR Carnet. However, the holder of the TIR-carnet is always responsible for the correctness of the declaration as well as for ensuring that the regulations regarding the procedure are adhered to.

The person submitting the declaration in the customs system receives a movement reference number MRN, which should be presented at the customs office of departure together with the TIR Carnet, the goods and the means of transport. Customs releases the goods to the TIR procedure and confirms the TIR Carnet as well as prints a transit Transport Accompanying Document (TAD) to be attached to the TIR-carnet.

The TIR procedure is ended when the TIR-carnet and the MRN movement reference number of the electronic declaration as well as the goods, are presented to Customs at the office of destination.

ATA Carnet is an international document, which can be used when goods for exhibitions and equipment used by professionals as well as commercial goods samples, are temporarily exported to countries that are contracting parties of the customs convention. The ATA Carnet also provides an internationally accepted guarantee for possible customs duty and import taxes levied on the imported goods.

The ATA Carnet does not replace other documents or authorisations that might be needed regarding restrictions on import or export, for example import licences for firearms or health certificates. ATA Carnets are granted upon application by chambers of commerce in each of the contracting countries. In Finland, ATA Carnets are issued by the Central Chamber of Commerce.

Transit with the ATA Carnet

If the aim is to transit the goods under the ATA Carnet, for example to an exhibition or fair, via a country or territory (e.g. the EU) without importing them temporarily, then the ATA Carnet can be used as a transit document. No separate transit guarantee has to be provided to customs. Neither will any safety and security data have to be provide for goods transported under the ATA Carnet.

When Union goods are transported directly from a territory that is part of the fiscal territory to parts of the Union, which are not part of its fiscal territory, there is no need to use transit (e.g. from mainland Finland directly to the Åland Islands). An invoice or transport document can be used as an import or export declaration, when the Union goods cross the fiscal border within one Member State, for example from mainland Finland directly to the Åland Islands.

Moving Union goods

Using the transit procedure on Union goods between a special fiscal territory and another customs territory of the Union is only mandatory when the goods are intended to be transported from the fiscal territory to another country than the Member State where it originally arrives. In this case, the Union goods must be transited under a T2F transit procedure. For example, when Union goods are transported from the Åland Islands to Estonia via Finland.

In other cases, when Union goods are moved between a special fiscal territory and another Union territory, the use of the internal transit (T2F) procedure is optional.

When goods are transported across the border of a fiscal territory to another Member State, then largely the same export and import formalities are adhered to as when goods are transported across EU's external border.

Moving Union goods in certain special situations

When Union goods are moved from a special fiscal territory to a country in the common transit area (Norway, Switzerland, Island, Liechtenstein, Turkey, North Macedonia, Serbia) or via such a country, then the goods are transited under an external transit T1 procedure in the following situations:

  • refunds are granted based on the common agricultural policy implemented on Union goods
  • the Union goods have been part of intervention stocks
  • repayment or revision of the import duties on the Union goods requires it.

Moving non-Union goods

Using the T1 transit procedure is mandatory when non-Union goods are moved within the Union customs territory or if they are re-exported to a country in the common transit area. For example, when non-Union goods are moved from the Åland Islands to mainland Finland.

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