The term Transit refers to Union/Common Transit, which is a suspensive customs procedure allowing the movement of goods, under customs control, between two points in the customs territory of the European Union (in the case of Union Transit) or between the EU, Turkey, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and the EFTA countries, as well as between the latter (in the case of Common Transit).

EFTA countries are Switzerland – which includes, for customs purposes only, the Principality of Liechtenstein – Norway and Iceland.

The advantage for operators deriving from the use of the Union/Common Transit regime is represented by the possibility of circulating, with a system that is easy and economical to use, non-Union or Union goods, in the cases expressly provided for by European Union regulations, which otherwise would have had to pay the charges normally provided for their forwarding from one point to another of the Community (customs duties, VAT, excise duties and other charges).

Characteristics and methods of use

With the introduction of the single market and the generalisation of the principle of the free movement of Union goods, the scope of the Union transit procedure is mainly limited to third goods (Union external transit T1) or, in certain specific cases, to Union goods (Union internal transit T2), provided that there are express provisions to that effect.

These forecasts concern

  • Union goods in transit/coming from common transit countries;
  • Union goods bound for the Republic of San Marino (with the exclusion of Italian goods, subject to a fiscal exchange regime) and the Principality of Andorra;
  • Union goods to/from/exchanged between parts of the Union outside the fiscal territory of the Union (i.e. the Åland Islands, Canary Islands, Channel Islands, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mount Athos and Réunion).

The Union goods in question circulate under the regime of Internal Union Transit with the abbreviations of T2 and T2F; the latter abbreviation is used in the case of trade involving parties outside the fiscal territory of the Union as indicated above.

The ordinary operation of the procedure in question is carried out and takes place through the dispatch, between the customs offices responsible for the operation (customs office of departure/guarantee/passage/destination), of the goods in transit, escorted by the TAD and accompanied by a series of computer messages which have the function of transit documents.

It is considered useful to point out that since the European Union is a single customs territory, transit offices only exist when crossing the borders of common transit countries.

In order to protect taxation, it is necessary for the operator to present a guarantee, which may be provided for a single customs operation (isolated) or for an indefinite number of operations (global), subject to written authorisation issued by the competent customs authority and calculated on the basis of the value of the turnover of the operator concerned over a given period of time.

A guarantee waiver may also be authorised, under the same authorisation and calculation procedures as for the comprehensive guarantee.

Exclusively in the event of technical problems, the aforementioned IT procedure is replaced by a fallback procedure based on the use of paper documents.

Simplified procedures

In parallel with the ordinary procedures described above, the Union/Common Transit can be carried out by using simplified procedures.

These may depend on

  • on the nature and reliability of the operator (authorised consignor/consignee, allowing the goods not to be presented at the office of departure/destination, without prejudice to the control powers of the Customs Administration)
  • the mode of transport (by rail, by air, by sea and by pipeline); in all these cases the transport documents typical of the sector are basically used, replacing the customs documents but taking on the same value.

Reference regulations

Union transit

Articles 226-236 of Regulation (EU) No. 952/2013 “Union Customs Code”.

Articles 272-321 of Regulation (EU) No. 2447/2015 “Implementing Regulation”.

Arts. 184-200 of Reg. (EU) No 2446/2015 “Delegated Regulation”.

Arts. 24-53 of Reg. (EU) No. 341/2016 “Transitional Delegated Regulation”.

Common Transit

New Convention Common Transit (Decision No. 1/2016 of the EU/EFTA Joint Committee on Common Transit of 28/4/2016).

National provisions and administrative practice documents:

Circular No. 8/D of 19 April 2016 – Union Customs Code. Provisions and procedural instructions – pdf (1.16 MB) – published on 20/04/2016

On Transit, both Union and Common, the European Commission and Customs Administrations