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The digitisation of the road freight industry has taken a major step forward after no UN members states raised objections to new amendments to the TIR system allowing digital documentation – known as the eTIR.

“None of the 76 contracting parties to the TIR Convention has communicated an objection to the proposals, adopted last year, to amend various provisions introducing new Annex 11 on eTIR,” said the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), which administers the TIR convention.

“eTIR will thus become a reality [on 25 May], opening new applications for the TIR system, in particular in the area of intermodal transport,” it added.

Supporters claim the new legislation will make the TIR system more competitive and efficient, “since all customs authorities involved in an eTIR transport along a given itinerary (customs en route and destination) will be informed in advance, electronically and in seconds, through the dispatch of so-called advance TIR data by a TIR transporter, about an upcoming TIR declaration”.

UNECE executive secretary Olga Algayerova said: “I invite all contracting parties to the TIR Convention to start implementing the interconnection of their national customs systems with the eTIR international system as soon as possible, to make the most of its enhanced efficiency and security.”

Umberto de Pretto, secretary general of the International Road Transport Union (IRU), added: “This key milestone shows widespread support for transport digitalisation.

“IRU and our members will continue working with governments to fully implement eTIR to further smooth border crossings, reduce transport times, boost trade and increase security, especially now, during the pandemic.”

And the adoption of the eTIR could provide relief to hauliers operating between the EU and UK, with the IRU arguing that “accredited TIR hauliers in the EU, UK and beyond can use this tried and proven system to easily complete customs procedures”.

It noted that in February, the Polish Association of International Road Transporters (ZMPD) and Polish haulier Sachs Trans organised the shipment of high-value medical goods from Poland to the UK under the TIR system.

“TIR works across borders all over the world and can make a real difference to companies struggling with the new EU/UK customs border,” said Mr de Pretto.

The UNECE also revealed that some 48 contracting parties out of 76 had “expressed interest in initiating discussions/projects on the interconnection of their national customs systems with the eTIR international system”.

They are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, India, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Montenegro, Morocco, Pakistan, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, the 27 EU member states and the Russian Federation, which has requested the secretariat to start working on a proof of concept for the five member states of the Eurasian Economic Union.

The UNECE also noted that the use of eTIR would be compliant with the various border control measures to limit the spread of coronavirus “by keeping drivers and customs officers safe and healthy, since it provides seamless, paperless and therefore contactless, border crossing operations”.

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