Last update 22.03.2019
Transit is a customs procedure used to facilitate the movement of goods between 2 points in the European Union (EU) via a different customs territory, or between 2 or more different customs territories.
Goods in transit are under a temporary suspension of duties, taxes and commercial policy measures. Customs clearance procedures are usually carried out at destination of the goods rather than at the point of entry into the customs territory.
Operators have to use the transit system which applies to the territories concerned and to the status of the transported goods.
Each transit procedure must be covered by the deposit of a guarantee.
European businesses must declare the transit of their goods electronically via the "New Computerised Transit System (NCTS).
Operators can facilitate their procedures, depending on the means of transport used, by resorting to other transport documents in lieu of the standard transit procedure or by applying for a simplified transit procedure "at departure / at destination" ("allègement au départ / à destination").
Who is concerned
Transit procedures usually involve several parties:
- the consignor of the goods;
- the carrier;
- the consignee of the goods;
- the principal, i.e. the person who commits to the customs authorities to transport the goods from the consignor to the consignee and who assumes responsibility for the transit vis-à-vis the tax authorities (e.g.: consignor, carrier, logistics company, customs agency, etc.).
An operator can fill one or more of these roles.
The transport of certain goods (namely military equipment, dual-use goods), requires a transit licence from the Office for Export, Import and Transit Controls.
Businesses who must declare their transit operations need to have:
How to proceed
The external Community transit procedure (T1) allows the transit of non-Community goods ("external" transit) via the EU Member States (and Andorra and the Republic of San Marino) suspending the payment of customs duties and other taxes.
The external Common transit procedure (T1) allows the transit of non-Community goods via the EU Member States and EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland), or Turkey.
The internal Community transit procedure (T2) allows the transit of Community goods ("internal" transit) between EU Member States via one or more EFTA countries suspending the payment of customs duties and other taxes.
The internal Common transit procedure (T2) allows the transit of Community goods between EU Member States and EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland), or Turkey.
The internal Community transit procedure (T2F) is used for the transit of Community goods between EU Member States and non-fiscal areas of the customs territory of the Community such as the French Overseas Departments, the Channel Islands, the Canary Islands.
The principal must go to the Central Customs Revenue Office (Recette Centrale des Douanes et Accises) and deposit a guarantee which is intended to cover for all duties and taxes such as import duty, anti-dumping fees, excise duties, value added tax, etc.
The amount of the guarantee is calculated by the Customs and Excise Agency based on an estimated volume of operations.
The bank guarantee must be submitted to the Central Customs Revenue Office for approval.
The operator or legal representative must complete a Community transit / Common transit declaration online via the eDouane Import / Export application (NCTS).
Once the declaration has been submitted, the system generates a transit accompanying document (TAD) which is to be printed. The document will indicate whether it is a T1 or T2 form. It must accompany the goods from the point of departure to the point of destination.
When the goods leave EU territory, the office of transit sends an electronic message to the office of departure.
When the goods arrive at destination, an electronic message is sent to the office of departure and, where applicable, to the office of transit, confirming the arrival of the goods.
After the goods have been checked, a second message will confirm whether any irregularities have been detected.
The office of departure will forward these messages electronically to the declarant.
Within the framework of intra-Community movements via territories of third countries, the operator may need to justify the Community status of the goods by presenting the T2L document (T2LF for non-fiscal territories).
Air transport - Airway bill
The carrier can use an airway bill to transport goods by air.
Transport by rail - Stamped transport documents endorsing a T1 procedure
The carrier can use a CIM document (Contrat de transport International ferroviaire des Marchandises - International waybill for transport of goods by rail) to transport goods by rail.
Inland waterway transport - Rhine manifest
The carrier can use a Rhine Manifest for the carriage of goods on the Rhine waterways.
Simplified transit procedure - at departure / at destination
Operators can apply for authorisation to benefit from a simplified procedure:
- at departure;
- and/or at destination.
In this case, the goods do not have to be presented at the customs office at the point of departure and/or destination.
Operators who do already have the authorised economic operator status (AEO) benefit from a faster processing of their application for authorisation to use the simplified procedure.