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Transit: Reach global customers faster and delay duty payment

Transit is a customs procedure to move goods between different countries faster and cheaper argues Arne Mielken of Customs Manager Ltd. Can it help you?



In Europe, amongst so-called "common transit countries", goods can transit through their territory duty and tax suspended and without major customs formalities. Businesses can use transit when exporting or taking goods out of one country to move them quickly and delay duty until they reach their destination.


You can use common or Union transit to move your goods by air, rail, road or sea to, or through:

  • common transit countries

  • EU member states and EU special territories.

Benefits of customs transit

Transit can help you move your goods between common transit countries more quickly and without paying import duties in those or countries or duties where those duties have already been suspended, because:

  • customs declarations and duties are not required at each border crossing

  • you can complete some customs processes away from the border at either an office of departure or destination or your own premises if you are an authorised consignor or consignee.

To use transit, rules need to be followed and systems used. The starting point is deciding if transit is useful for you, In Europe, essentially, there are two options: for businesses:


Option 1: Common Transit Convention

Common transit is a customs procedure that allows the movement of goods to, from, through or between the countries that have signed the Common Transit Convention without the need to:

  • complete customs declarations until they end their transit movement

  • pay customs duties and other charges on the goods until they end their transit movement

  • This includes movements to, from, through or between all EU Member States, the EFTA countries (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland), Turkey (since 1 December 2012), the Republic of North Macedonia (since 1 July 2015) and Serbia (since 1 February 2016).

The operation of the common transit procedure with the UK is ensured as the UK has deposited its instrument of accession on 30 January 2019 with the Secretariat of the Council of the EU. So the UK is also a common transit country. You can therefore use transit to move goods from, between or through Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the other common transit countries including the EU.


The procedure is based on the Convention of 20 May 1987 on a common transit procedure. The rules are effectively identical to those of the Union transit - see below)

The Common Transit Convention is used to ease the movement of goods between or through any common transit countries.

The UK is a member of the Common Transit Convention.

The other members are:

  • Iceland

  • Liechtenstein

  • Republic of North Macedonia

  • Norway

  • Serbia

  • Switzerland

  • the EU including the EU special territories where customs rules apply

  • Turkey


Download the Common Transit Convention

Common Transit Convention - CELEX_01987A
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Download • 3.26MB

Option 2: Using Union Transit

The Union transit procedure is used for customs transit operations between the EU Member States (and Andorra and San Marino) and is in general applicable to the movement of non-Union goods for which customs duties and other charges at import are at stake, and of Union goods, which, between their point of departure and point of destination in the EU, have to pass through the territory of a third country.

  • The law on Customs Transit procedures in the Union is laid down in the Union Customs Code (Regulation (EU) No 952/2013), in the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/2446, in the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/2447 and in the Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/341, as amended.



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