Transport International par la Route (TIR) is a road transport operating agreement among European governments and the United States for the international movement of cargo by road. A Review Conference convened in November 1975 under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) produced the TIR Convention of 1975 that came into force in 1978. Since that time the TIR Convention has proved that it is one of the most successful international transport conventions and is in fact so far the only universal Customs transit system in existence. Display of the TIR carnet allows sealed containerloads to cross national frontiers without inspection, providing a simple, flexible, cost-effective and secure Customs regime for the international transport of goods across frontiers. In case of doubt, Customs authorities retain the right to inspect the goods under Customs seal at any time and, if necessary, to interrupt the TIR transport and to take adequate measures in accordance with their national legislation.
The first TIR Agreement was concluded under UNECE in 1949 between a small number of European countries, but was considered successful enough for the negotiation of a TIR Convention, which was adopted in 1959 by the UNECE Inland Transport Committee and entered into force in 1960. This first TIR Convention was revised in 1975 to make the system more efficient, less complex and at the same time more Customs secure, and to take account of practical experience in operating the system and to give effect to technical advances and changing Customs and transportation requirements. With the introduction in the 1960s of the maritime container and the inland container used by the European railways and by the swap-body introduced for improving the efficiency of road/rail transport, the Convention was adapted to allow the acceptance of the container, under certain conditions, as a Customs "secure loading unit".
In 2007 the TIR convention has 66 Contracting Parties, including the European Community, covering the whole of Europe and extending to parts of North Africa and the Near and Middle East. In the Americas, the United States, Canada, Chile and Uruguay are Contracting Parties.
In 1952 only around 3,000 TIR Carnets were issued, reaching 100,000 in 1960, then 800,000 in 1970. In 2006 the number of Carnets issued reached almost 3.6 million, representing 10,000 TIR transports every day in more than 50 countries and well over 50,000 TIR border crossing procedures daily.
- Historical Background United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Accessed July 13, 2007
- U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration