Transport sector legislation and conventions

The object of this article is to provide brief but comprehensive basic information on the legislation governing the transport sector in the Slovak Republic. We will focus on the legal obligations of international road carriers and on carriage contracts.

The object of this article is to provide brief but comprehensive basic information on the legislation governing the transport sector in the Slovak Republic. We will focus on the legal obligations of international road carriers and on carriage contracts.

Transport is one of the basic sectors of the national economy, and ensures the safe and efficient transport of goods and people. The transport sector consists of the following industries: road transport, civil aviation, railway transport, water transport and combined transport. Transport may also be divided into scheduled transport and unscheduled transport; the transport of people and the transport of goods; and domestic and international transport. The wide-ranging and dynamic transport sector is regulated by various domestic and international norms.

The general norms include:

* Act No 40/1964 Coll. Civil Code as amended;
* Act No 513/1991 Coll. Commercial Code as amended;
* Act No 455/1991 Coll. Trade Licensing Act as amended;
* Act No 238/2001 Coll. Customs Act as amended;
* Act No. 135/1961 Coll. on Roads as amended;
* European Agreement concerning the Work of Crews of Vehicles Engaged in International Road Transport (AETR);
* TIR Convention, 1975 - Convention on the International Transport of Goods under cover of TIR Carnets (Fees);
* Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road (CMR).

Road transport norms:

Road transport includes every form of transport that takes place on public roads by loaded or unloaded vehicles or occupied buses.

* Act No. 168/1996 Coll. on Road Transport as amended;
* Decree No. 311/1996 Coll. implementing the Act No. 168/1996 Coll. on Road Transport as amended;
* Decree No 363/1996 Coll. on Specimen and Issue of Transfer Manual.

Civil aviation norms:

* Act No. 143/1998 Coll. on Civil Aviation (Aviation Act) and amendments and supplements to some laws.

Railway transport norms:

* Act No 164/1996 Coll. on Railroads and on amendment of the Act No 455/1991 Trade Licensing Act as amended;
* Convention Concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF).

Water transport norms:

* Act No 338/2000 Coll. on Inland Navigation and on amendment to some laws.

Combined transport norms:

* Council Directive 92/106/EEC on the establishment of common rules for certain types of combined transport of goods between Member States according to which combined transport means the transport of goods (i) between Member States where the lorry, trailer, semi-trailer, with or without tractor unit, swap body or container of 20 feet or more uses the road on the initial or final leg of the journey and, on the other leg, rail or inland waterway or maritime services where this section exceeds 100 km as the crow flies and make the initial or final road transport leg of the journey; (ii) between the point where the goods are loaded and the nearest suitable rail loading station for the initial leg, and between the nearest suitable rail unloading station and the point where the goods are unloaded for the final leg, or; (iii) within a radius not exceeding 150 km as the crow flies from the inland waterway port or seaport of loading or unloading.

TIR Convention:

One of the most important conventions concerning the international road transport of goods is the Customs Convention on the International Transport of Goods under Cover of TIR Carnets (hereinafter "the TIR Convention, 1975"), which was promulgated in the Slovak Republic as No. 144/1982 Coll.

The TIR system has been devised to facilitate to the maximum extent the international movement of goods under customs seals. The system provides transit countries with the required guarantees to cover the customs duties and taxes at risk. A balance is struck between the responsibilities of the customs authorities and those of the international trading community.

At present, the TIR system is losing importance in the European Union due to the fact that the EU represents a single customs area of member states. However, it remains very important for non-member states of the European Union, especially for the transport of goods through transit countries such as Russia, Ukraine and other former states of the Russian Federation, as well as Turkey, China and other countries where the road transport of goods without the TIR system is unimaginable.

The TIR system is an international customs transit system for goods carried by road, and is based on five basic principles: (i) secure vehicles or containers: goods are carried in sealed vehicles or containers which are approved for use by customs and are re-approved every two years; (ii) international chain of guarantee: duties and taxes due in case of irregularity are secured by an international guarantee chain throughout the journey; (iii) TIR carnet: the goods are accompanied by a TIR carnet, which is a control document accepted by the customs authorities of the countries of departure, transit and destination; (iv) mutual recognition of customs controls: control measures taken in the country of departure are accepted by the countries of transit and destination; and (v) controlled access: access to the TIR system for national issuing and guaranteeing associations is given by the competent national authorities, and for transport operators by the national customs authorities and the national association.

The TIR system is governed by the International Road Transport Union ("IRU") based in Geneva, and by legal entities based in the member states of the TIR Convention. In Slovakia this legal entity is the ČESMAD Slovakia Association, which represents Slovak hauliers and transport companies to the Slovak customs authorities and issues TIR Carnets to Slovak hauliers and transport companies.

By Partner Gerta Sámelová-Flassiková
and Partner Ján Voloch

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