What is Customs Transit?

Blurred transit lines

The Union Customs Code (UCC) wants to promote international competitiveness and improve export opportunities. To facilitate this they have developed four special procedures:

  1. Transit, both internal and external
  2. Storage in free zones and customs warehouses
  3. Specific use: temporary admission and end-use
  4. Processing, both inward and outward

This blog handles the first of the four special procedures: Transit.

What is Customs Transit?

Customs transit is the procedure that allows you to move goods between two points in a customs territory, or between territories without paying tariffs and taxes at each point. Transits can be internal or external

There are different transit scenarios:

  • Goods enter the EU Customs Territory and are then transported through (part of) the EU and then leave the EU again
  • Goods leave the EU Customs Territory and are then transported through other customs territories, after which they enter the EU again.
  • Goods enter the EU Customs Territory and are then transported to somewhere in the EU
  • Goods are placed under an export procedure and then under a transit procedure

There are various procedures under which goods can be moved in Transit:

Customs Transit Procedure

An external transit (T1) usually applies to goods that come from outside of the EU. When goods are moved under a T1, the payment of duties and taxes are suspended until the goods reach their destination and are customs cleared.

An internal transit (T2) usually applies to goods that come from inside of the EU. When goods are moved under a T2, you can temporarily move those goods out of the EU, and move them back in again, without having to customs clear them again.

Union- and Common Transit Procedure

The Union- and Common transit procedures are the most commonly used. The union transit is applicable to movements within the Customs Territory of the EU. The common transit procedure is used for transit within the Customs Territory and countries that are part of the Convention, like Iceland, Switzerland, and Norway.


TIR stands for Transports Internationaux Routiers. The TIR is used to transport goods using road transportation (for at least one part of the transportation) across multiple borders. The main difference with a common transit procedure is that a TIR crosses multiple borders, whereas a common transit is a single movement through one territory.

Other Types of Transits

ATA Convention Procedure: Temporary Admission. Goods enter the Union and stay for a specified time period where they are used and then leave again in the same condition as they were in when they arrived. Under the ATA convention. No duties have to be paid.

Postal System: no customs declarations have to be filed for postal consignments, as long as they are under the responsibility of the postal service, and not delivered.

NATO Form 32: used for transporting military goods of NATO countries through other NATO countries

Rhine Manifest: a procedure to transport goods with ships on the Rhine.

Questions or Requests

If you have any questions about exporting to or from the EU or importing to the EU, or transporting your goods in or through the EU using any of these transit procedures, please contact one of our experts.

Photo by Marcin Jozwiak on Unsplash