The Customs Convention on the International Transport of Goods under Cover of TIR Carnets (TIR Convention, 1975) was elaborated under the aegis of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
It has its origins in two draft UNECE Conventions – on commercial vehicles and on goods transport by road – which entered into force on 16 June 1949 but were of a provisional nature and covered only a small number of European countries.
However, as regards goods in transit, a way had to be found to seal the goods in order to apply the transit bond-note system to transport operations and to enable the Customs formalities applicable to imported goods to take place at destination rather than at the border.
The solution was found by using approved vehicles which were effectively sealed and by using the TIR Carnet.
The provisional agreement of 1949 was so successful that, further to recommendations by the IRU, 17 countries signed the TIR Convention of 1959 drawn up by the UNECE Inland Transport Committee which, by introducing exemption from duty on imported vehicles, had established that goods carried under seal and in approved vehicles should not be subject to physical inspections en route. Payments of related duties and taxes are suspended until the arrival of the goods at their destination. Today, the TIR Convention has 68 Contracting Parties worldwide.
The TIR Convention was revised in 1975 to take into account new methods of transport with the sea containers, followed by the inland containers and swap-body to facilitate rail-road combined transport.
Since its entry into force in 1978, the TIR Convention of 1975 has been updated over 20 times. The most recent relevant amendments came into force on 12 August 2006 with the addition of Annex 10, regarding the electronic control system for TIR Carnets commonly known as SafeTIR.