Last reviewed 29 April 2020

The International Road Transport Union (IRU) and the UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) have come together to highlight the importance of implementing coordinated customs measures to keep road transport supply chains open during the current global health crisis.

In a joint letter addressed to customs administration bodies, they have recommended the adoption of a number of best practices aimed at protecting transport workers and companies and ensuring that transport links are kept open wherever possible.

These include coordinating and unifying intra-institutional and cross border cooperation and implementing green lanes to minimise border check times (see EU sets up green lanes to keep goods moving).

The two international bodies are also encouraging the use of the UN TIR Convention.

As the only global transit system, TIR allows for transport in a secure load compartment carried out under customs control. It requires physical checks at origin and final destination, but none at the borders in between, therefore reducing human contact and the chances of contamination.

In addition to these proposed actions, IRU and UNECE also expressed their readiness to support national authorities by providing practical advice and guidance in overcoming the challenges they currently face.

Finally, they are recommending that changes to enforcement procedures introduced during the coronavirus crisis should be communicated through UNECE’s Observatory on Border Crossings Status webpage which can be found at

IRU Secretary General Umberto de Pretto said: “All efforts must be made to ensure the continuity of international supply chains during the COVID-19 pandemic. With rules and restrictions evolving rapidly, coordinated measures are vital to keeping road transport moving and getting essential goods and medical supplies to those that need them.”