The TIR convention is being modernized

If there was an intriguing inscription to talk about on the trucks we overtake, it is this blue rectangle where it is written “TIR”. What does it mean, and why do only some of them have it?


This plate applied on a truck means that the goods are subject to the TIR regime. This is a customs fiscal regime that allows trucks to cross several customs without having to perform customs clearance operations at each border crossing. In Europe, thanks to the customs union and the common transit regime which also includes Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Turkey, Serbia, Northern Macedonia and the United Kingdom, the TIR carnet is not necessary. It is enough to go through a system called NCTS (New Computerised Transit System).

If you see a truck with a TIR plate, it means that it comes from or is bound for a country outside the list mentioned, most often the Maghreb, or Eastern countries such as Russia, Belarus or Ukraine, or that it has transited through a third country (e.g. Albania) even though it is coming from and bound for the EU. This also means that they are under seal, so the container or truck is most likely sealed. To date, the TIR Convention has been ratified by more than 75 countries and will undergo a major evolution very soon: Digitization. Indeed, on May 25, at the international level, the legal provisions were taken and on September 20 the EU included these modifications in its official journal under the number L 331/1.

Although the technical details are not yet known, it is already known that this new system will be hosted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and that the EU has already planned to interconnect its NCTS. This new “eTIR” system is still in its infancy, but perhaps it will see the disappearance of those enigmatic “TIR” inscriptions?

For more information, please contact AFTRI, the organization in charge of the TIR System in France