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1982 International Convention on the Harmonization of Frontier Controls of Goods

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1982 International Convention on the Harmonization of Frontier Controls of Goods

The International Convention on the Harmonization of Frontier Controls of goods is intended to reduce barriers to international trade. Under the terms of the Convention, the European Community is committed to facilitating the movement of goods over its external borders.


Council Regulation (EEC) No 1262/84 of 10 April 1984 concerning the conclusion of the International Convention on the Harmonization of Frontier Controls of Goods [Official Journal L 126 of 12.5.1984].


The EC is a party to the International Convention on the Harmonization of Frontier Controls of Goods signed in Geneva on 21 October 1982 in the framework of the United Nations. The Convention is intended to streamline administrative procedures and remove cross-border technical barriers.

It applies to all goods being imported or exported or in transit, when they are moved across one or more maritime, air or inland frontiers.

The Convention is part of the external trade policy, which is an area of exclusive Community competence.

Parties to the Convention are committed to streamlining administrative procedures at borders and reducing the number and duration of controls carried out by customs authorities. This commitment should be reflected in:

  • cooperation and coordination between customs and other services for monitoring goods;
  • the provision of qualified personnel with the necessary equipment at the place where the controls are to take place; official instructions to officers for acting in accordance with international agreements;
  • cooperation with the competent international bodies, in order to facilitate new multilateral or bilateral agreements;
  • arrangements for the joint control of goods and documents by neighbouring countries that share a border; opening hours of frontier posts, categories of goods, modes of transport and international customs transit procedures should correspond;
  • the exchange of information required for controls to be effective;
  • documents aligned on the United Nations Layout Key.

Goods in transit are to receive simple and speedy treatment when they are transported in conditions that provide adequate security. Controls may however be carried out if there is a threat to public safety.

Customs clearance for goods covered an international customs transit procedure is to be facilitated by an extension of the hours and the competence of existing customs posts.

Goods are subject to customs controls as described in Annex 1. These controls are to ensure compliance with the laws and regulations in force at borders. Other types of controls may also be carried out, also at points within the country.

Customs services are in charge of organising cooperation and coordination with other goods control services so as to expedite the passage of goods.

Instructions regarding these controls are to be found in the annexes below. They comprise:

  • medico-sanitary inspections carried out for the protection of the life and health of persons (Annex II);
  • veterinary inspections, applied to animals or animal products and their conditions of transport (Annex III);
  • phytosanitary inspections intended to prevent the spread and the introduction across national boundaries of pests of plants and plant products (Annex IV);
  • control of compliance of goods with national and international laws and regulations (Annex V);
  • quality control of goods to ensure that they correspond to the minimum international or national definitions of quality (Annex VI);
  • rules of procedure of the administrative committee for the Harmonisation Convention concerning the amendment procedure for the Convention (Annex VII).

Prohibitions or restrictions relating to importation, exportation, or transit remain applicable when they are imposed for reasons of public safety*. Emergency measures may also be introduced if necessary.

The Convention does not preclude the right of regional economic integration organisations to apply their own legislation at their internal frontiers. It enables preferences and financial facilities to be maintained, on condition that they do not reduce in any way the facilities deriving from this convention.

Disputes between the parties are to be settled by negotiation or by voluntary recourse to arbitration.

Key terms used in the act

  • Public safety: Defending public safety implies defending the safety and security of the public, morality, health, the environment, cultural heritage and industrial, commercial and intellectual property.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EEC) No 1262/84



OJ L 126 of 12.5.1984



Annex 8 – Facilitating border crossing procedures for international road transport:

Council Decision 2009/161/EC of 25 September 2008 Approving on behalf of the Community Annex 8 to the International Convention on the Harmonisation of Frontier Controls of Goods.

The new Annex 8 to the International Convention on the Harmonisation of Frontier Controls of Goods entered into force on 20 May 2008.

The new measures aim at simplifying and coordinating administrative procedures dealing with the following aspects:

  • the granting of visas for professional drivers, by facilitating procedures and the exchange of information between professionals;
  • international transport operations, by speeding up border crossing procedures for goods, particularly for urgent consignments, such as live animals and perishable goods;
  • the technical control of road vehicles, by accepting the International Technical Inspection Certificate and the identification of ATP vehicles carrying perishable goods;
  • the acceptance of the International Vehicle Weight Certificate, aiming at avoiding repetitive weighing procedures at border crossings, apart from random checks or in the case of supposed irregularities. Weight measurement shall take place in the country of origin of international transport operations;
  • efficient border crossing points with suitable infrastructures.

The effective implementation of the Annex by the Contracting Parties will be monitored by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe who will produce a report every second year.


Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on official controls to be performed to ensure the verification of compliance with feed and food law, animal health and animal welfare rules [Official Journal L 165 of 30.04.2004].

Corrigendum to the Regulation [Official Journal L 191 of 28.05.2004].

The Regulation is intended to organise the official controls performed on animal feed and food in the framework of Community legislation.


EEC/UN ATP Agreement on the International Carriage of Perishable Foodstuffs and on the Special Equipment to be used for such Carriage (entry into force on 1 September 1970, amended on 7 November 2003).

International Convention on the Harmonization of Frontier Controls of Goods (entry into force 12 May 1984).

Last updated: 02.01.2006