The concept of Transit, as distinct from transit procedure, may be roughly defined as the right of transition of goods from a country. Freedom of transit, i.e., right of transit is a right adopted by international law. Liberalization and facilitation of transit passes via the territory of each contracting party and the routes conducive to international transit, have been stipulated by the League of Nations Agreement, Barcelona Statute on Freedom of Transit Law as well as by the other agreements adopted in the international arena. Article V of GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) is the most detailed among these documents. A clause was included within the scope of Article V of GATT, to determine the most convenient route for the transit pass through the contracting countries in international trade and legitimize freedom of transit to the vehicles moving on this route, notwithstanding the departure and arrival points, mode of transport, origin and flag of vessels. On the other hand, Freedom of Transit is governed in detail also in Article 11 of the Trade Facilitation Agreement adopted by the General Council of World Trade Organization on November 27th, 2014. However the Agreement has not come into force yet.
Acceding to the TIR (Transports Internationaux Routiers, 1975) Convention in 1985 enabling the facilitation of international goods transportation, improvement of transport conditions and simplification and harmonization of administrative formalities in international transportation; Turkey’s domestic legislation has been brought to the international standards. In our legislation, it is not necessary for the transporters of other countries to pay any charge or fees by during transit operations. Therefore no customs payment is made in transit operations carried out under TIR Carnet. In addition, goods brought to Turkey as part of transit procedure are deemed to be within the scope of TIR Convention or Common Transit Convention; unless any incompliance is specified, as per Article 84 of Customs Law, Article 247 of Customs Regulation and Article 37 of Common Transit Convention, where goods access the customs offices of destination and transit operation is terminated without any delay.
In respect of providing the infrastructure required for transit traffic at border crossing points, “TIR EPD Green Lane” came into effect in Turkey in 2013. TIR EPD Green Lane is intended to serve as a special line for the pre-notifying transporters at Kapıkule Border Crossing Point. Thus, the transporters submitting necessary information by previously logging-in the TIR EPD System may pass these special platforms reserved for themselves.
Relating to convoys and escorts, Article 88 of Customs Law reads as “Goods under transit procedure shall, excepting the cases of suspicion or denunciation, be directed to customs administrations of entry, without being examined. Where deemed necessary, they shall be directed by affixing the seal or they shall be accompanied by customs officials.” Furthermore, as per Article 89 of Customs Law and Article 214 of Customs Regulation, consignment of goods in company with an officer is deemed essential as it is required by Ministry of Customs and Trade.
By the Circular No. 2012/4 on “Operations Related to Transit Procedure”, placing the goods (whose importation is prohibited) into the transit regime is bound to a guarantee and escort of an officer. In addition, the Circular also governs that, some of the transit goods may be dispatched by the escort of an officer by means of customs administration. Apart from these issues, in the event that the escort of an officer is necessary within the scope of the procedures relating to transit declaration, the escort of the officer will be applicable in accordance with the decision of the Ministry upon the justified request of the relevant Regional Directorate. On the other hand, no provision exists in the Turkish legislation as regards the convoys.
Within the framework of WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, the Turkish Ministry of Customs and Trade assigns a contact point by the appointment of a national transit coordinator for the execution of the operations performed within the scope of TIR Convention which defines the relevant parties and international public opinion.
Furthermore, the guarantee in transit is governed in Article 85 of the Customs Law. As per the Article “A guarantee shall be provided in order to ensure payment of any customs duties which may be incurred in respect of the transit goods … In the event that the Ministry (formerly the Turkish Undersecretariat of Customs) allows, the guarantee may be in the form of a comprehensive guarantee for multiple transit operation.” In addition, the Customs Regulation contains the statement: “When customs office of departure discharges the customs procedures, it releases the guarantee.” However, where comprehensive guarantee is used at the time the arrival information message is received, the amount of guarantee related to relevant transit operation will be released.”
The Turkish legislation with reference to freedom of transit: