Internal Transit

After Brexit, the issue of transit is of enormous practical importance for Irish traders using the UK landbridge to move to the continent of Europe. It is likely that the UK will adopt identical controls to that in place under European Union law

From the European Union perspective, the transport of goods across the United Kingdom “land bridge” will be undertaken pursuant to the internal transit procedure after Brexit. In contrast to community transit which is a procedure for external transit applicable to the movement of third-country goods not in free circulation in the EU,  the procedure for internal transit applies to the movement of goods originating in the EU or in free circulation in the EU to another part of the EU.

The internal transit procedure allows the movement of community goods from one point to another within the customs territory of the EU passing through the territory of a third country without any change in the custom status .

Modes of Internal Transit

Internal transit may take place

  • under the internal Community transit procedure provided it is possible under an applicable international agreement
  • undercover of a TIR Carnet
  • under an ATA Carnet
  • by post including parcel post

As with other transit arrangements, there are provisions for guarantees security and control over the goods while outside the EU customs territory.

External Transit

The external transit procedure allows goods to travel through EU territories under customs control and obligations. They are not in free circulation. They remain subject to customs requirements to guarantee that they are put to the correct use, and the relevant duties are paid.

The external transit procedure allows the movement from one point to another within the customs territory of the EU of non-EU goods without such goods being subject to import duties or charges or to commercial policy measures (i.e. trade restrictions conditions et cetera).

It also allows movements of community goods in cases and on conditions determined by the EU authorities in order to prevent products covered by or benefiting from export measures  evading or benefiting unjustly from such measures.

Mode of External Transit

External transit movement may take place

  • under the EU transit procedure
  • under a TIR carnet provided that  movement began or is to end outside the EU or relates to consignments which must be unloaded within the customs territory of the EU and which are conveyed with goods to be unloaded in the third country or is effected between two points in the EU to the territory of a third country
  • under cover of an ATA carnet using a transit document
  • by post

Controls on Transit Goods

Goods in transit are treated in a similar way to warehoused goods . They are subject to security provisions and sealed. Their customs status is suspended . There is official notification of their arrival and departure to customs authorities to ensure their control. The customs offices of departure  and destination need to know of transit in advance.

There is an obvious risk of fraud, and there is corresponding control. Traditionally goods were bonded and sealed.

The EU external community transit system is designed to facilitate duty suspended movements of non-community goods in a member states customs territory without having to complete the necessary customs formalities relating to the goods including declarations  and payment of duties.

Goods falsely declared do not qualify for the external transit procedure. Goods presented to customs for which a summary declaration is lodged  and an external community transit document validated are not lawfully introduced into the EU customs territory if the documents lodged are fraudulent and do not correctly designate the goods.

Termination of Transit

The transit procedure ends when the obligations of the holder are met, and the required documents are produced at the customs office of destination. The customs authorities discharge the procedure when it is in a position to establish on the basis of a comparison of the data available to the office of departure those and those available at the customs office of destination that the procedure has been correctly undertaken.

The goods must be presented intact within the prescribed time limits at the office of destination, and the governing terms and conditions must be complied with. The customs authority at the office of destination must carry out their control procedures in relation to the goods and satisfy themselves that any deficiencies or delays in completing the transit are accounted for to the satisfaction.

Guarantees may be required in relation to use of the procedure. The general principles of law applicable to triggering compliance with the guarantee are broadly applicable to customs guarantees. Guarantees are not required except for necessary in respect of journeys buyer operations carried out by railway companies.

Obligations to Produce

The general obligation in respect of customs on the part of the driver/carrier to the clear goods whether known or not, apply in the context of external transit. In addition to the obligations of the exporter/importer the carrier or recipient of goods who accepts goods knowing that they are moving under community transit is also responsible for the production of the goods intact at the customs office of destination within the prescribed limit and in accordance with the measures adopted by customs to ensure identification.

TIR Convention

The TIR convention was negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe . It was approved and adopted by the EU in 1978. Many transit movements are made under the TIR convention.

The relevant EU legislation provides that goods carried under TIR procedure shall not be subject to payment or deposit of import or export duties and taxes at customs office en route. Goods carried under the TIR procedure in sealed road vehicles or a combination of vehicles or containers are not as a general rule subjected to examination customs offices en route.

In exceptional cases, the examination may be undertaken so as to prevent abuse in cases where irregularity is reasonably suspected.

TIR Guarantees

There is provision for guarantees by guaranteeing associations. It is intended to cover the duty and taxes and interests in the event that there is a breach of the terms of the authorisation and conditions attached to the movement.

The system of guarantees is organised by the International Road Transport Union which is responsible for the issue of TIR Carnets.

The TIR administrative committee and working party administer the TIR system supported by the UN Economic Commission for Europe working party on the matter.

The TIR convention applies to most products save certain sensitive products and some foodstuffs.

Customs controls and formalities take place when the goods leave and re-enter the EU. Goods entering under carnets are deemed non-EU goods unless and until their customs status is established.

The consignee may be authorised as an authorised consignee. They may receive goods under the TIR procedure at his premises.

Convention Common Transit

The Convention on a Common Transit Procedure 1987 was entered in the context and in conjunction with the convention on the simplification of formalities of trade in goods. The common transit convention is similar in many respects to EU transit.

The internal transit procedure applies to goods which are in free circulation in the European Union. It allows EU (Community) goods to pass to a third country on its way to another EU  customs territory and continue to be deemed community goods.

The movement may take place under

  • the EU transit procedure provided that this is permitted under the international agreement
  • under cover of ATA Carnet
  • under a TIR carnet or
  • under certain procedures specific to the river Rhine.

Transit Simplifications

The standard requirements for transit procedures may be simplified for the benefit of authorised traders. Traders who regularly use the transit arrangement and can show compliance an ongoing basis may be permitted simplification . They are required to keep records and customs authorities are entitled to control and supervise the procedures.

The simplifications may apply to various aspects of the arrangements including

  • use of a comprehensive guarantee
  • guarantee waiver in certain cases
  • special loading lists
  • required itinerary details
  • seals
  • authorised consignor consignee status


The holder of the procedure is the person on whose behalf the customs declaration was made or the person to whom the rights and obligations for the procedure have been transferred. This person is responsible principally for the production intact of the goods at the customs office of destination within the prescribed time limit and the due observance of the measures adopted by the customs authority to ensure identification.

Transit declaration may be made electronically. Proof of destination of goods provided by  formT5 .

The goods are to be brought to the office of destination along an economically justified route.

Goods must be carried under cover of copies of the transit declaration the must be presented to the office of destination.

The transit procedure ends and obligations of the holder are met, and the goods are  produced at the customs office of destination. The customs authorities must be satisfied that procedure has ended correctly on the basis of comparison of data declaration and departure.

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