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, Serbia, Great Britain and Ukraine).
  • 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.

 Means of transit

  • The T1 transit procedure, or External Union transit, is used when undeclared goods are brought into the EU from outside the EU, or when undeclared goods are moved within the EU (between Member States or within one Member State) or to common transit countries.
  • 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).

How to submit a transit declaration

Read more: How to submit a transit declaration 

TIR and ATA Carnet in transit

The TIR Carnet is used when undeclared goods or Union goods are transported from the Union to a non-Union country that is a contracting party to the TIR convention, or returned to the Union via such a country. The TIR transit cannot be used for movements that take place solely within the EU. The TIR Carnet can also be used when goods are transported directly to the Union from a non-Union country that is a party to the TIR Convention.

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 Common Transit Convention provides that the T2 transit can be used when returning to the EU also when the goods have arrived from the EU under T2 transit and are then re-dispatched, if all of the following conditions are fulfilled:

  • The goods have not been placed under a customs procedure other than customs warehousing procedure after transit
  • The re-dispatch of the goods takes place within five years or, in case of goods of chapters 1 – 24 of the Customs Tariff, within six months.
  • Any treatment of goods must have been done under customs supervision and been limited to the extent necessary for the preservation of the condition of the goods or for the splitting of consignments, without changing the packaging.  

Form 302 is a document for customs purposes that can be used for transfers of goods relating to the Common Security and Defence Policy. The form is used for simplifying and facilitating customs clearances of goods transferred or used in connection with military activity.

The form can be issued by a competent military authority or their representative. 

Form 302 replaces declarations to Customs

Form 302 can be used as a substitute for customs declarations in the following circumstances:

  • release of goods into free circulation
  • temporary admission
  • transit
  • temporary export
  • re-export
  • as proof of the customs status of Union goods.

When form 302 is used, an entry summary declaration or an exit declaration is not required for goods. The form cannot be used in the case of goods transferred for commercial purposes. 

Use of form 302

Form 302 is drafted in at least five copies, and the page numbering indicates their purpose of use:

  • Copy 1: Copy of the receiving military authority
  • Copy 2: To be returned to the military authority in the country of departure by the receiving military authority 
  • Copy 3: Follow-up copy of the customs office of departure 
  • Copy 4: Archive copy of the customs office of destination 
  • Copy 5: To be returned to the customs office of departure by the customs office of destination as an acknowledgment.

If form 302 is used as a transit document, additional copies of copy 4 can be taken when necessary. The copies can be numbered, for example, as follows: 4a, 4b, 4c etc.

The template of EU form 302 has been published in Annex 52-01 of the Delegated Act (EU) 2015/2446. The form is to be completed either in English or French. 

Placing goods under a procedure

A competent military authority or an alliance representative must fill in form 302 and confirm it with a signature, stamp and date. The competent authority or alliance keeps copy 5 of the form.

Copies 1–4 of form 302 are presented with together with the goods at the customs office of departure. The said customs office confirms the form as serving as a customs declaration. The confirmation is entered on the second page under “Goods presented to customs authorities (on/at place), Marchandises présentées aux autorités douanières (date et lieu)”. The name and postal address of the customs office are to be written in this section, so that the country of destination can return copy 4. 

Copies 1, 2 and 4 will accompany the goods to the customs office of destination. The customs office of departure keeps copy 3 of the form.

Discharging the procedure

The goods are to be presented to the customs authority at the office of destination. Customs will sign and stamp copies 1, 2 and 4. The Union customs office of departure adds a stamp to the section “exit/sortie”. The customs office of destination adds a stamp to the section “entry/entrée”.

Copy 4 remains with the customs office of destination. Customs will send copy 4 as an acknowledgment to the customs office of departure, and keeps a copy of copy 4. The procedure is discharged at the customs office of destination which is

  • the office of arrival in the Union if the goods have been transported back to the Union through a third country 
  • the customs office of the country destination when non-Union goods are transported under a transit procedure.

Copies 1 and 2 accompany the goods to the consignee who signs and verifies the receipt of the goods with a stamp. The consignee then returns copy 2 to the competent authority in the country of departure or to the alliance. 

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.