Important legal notice
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Summary of Treaty

Official Title Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF) of 9 May 1980, as amended by the Vilnius Protocol of 3 June 1999
Type of Agreement Multilateral
Usual Title COTIF
Place of Signature Berne
Date of Signature 09/05/1980
Date of Entry Into Force 01/07/2006
Duration Indefinite
Objective of Agreement The aim of the Organisation is to promote, improve and facilitate, in all respects, international traffic by rail. OTIF will have to be capable of dealing with all aspects of international rail traffic, with a view to promoting, improving and facilitating it. This does not apply to those matters which come within the remit of the rail companies (transport companies and infrastructure managers) such as, for example, marketing, tariffs, timetables, operation, etc., but to those matters which come within the remit of the States and which were, in fact, previously entrusted to the railways (see No. 8). With regard to the demarcation between state and company powers, the Central Office, in its drafts of 1995/1996 for a new COTIF and its Appendices, was guided by the policy and legislation of the European Community (EC), particularly the Directive 91/440/EEC.
Remarks The entry into force in 1985 of the 1980 Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF) marked the birth of the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail, known today as OTIF. This Convention was signed in Bern on 9 May 1980 and amended by the Vilnius Protocol in 1999. The headquarters of the organisation are in Berne and its constituent bodies are: the general assembly, the administrative and financial committee, the revision committee, the committee of experts for the carriage of dangerous goods and the central office for international carriage by rail. OTIF currently comprises 46 countries. The Uniform Rules created by OTIF are applicable to international rail transport on railway infrastructure of about 250,000 km and to complementary carriage on 17,000 km of shipping lines and inland waterways, as well as prior or subsequent domestic carriage by road. The main tasks of OTIF concern: • international rail transport law (passenger and freight traffic); • carriage of dangerous goods; • contracts for the use of vehicles ; • contracts for the use of railway infrastructure; • validation of technical standards and adoption of uniform technical specifications for railway equipment; • removal of obstacles to the crossing of frontiers in international rail transport; • participation in the preparation of other international conventions concerning rail transport. Other activities carried out by the Organisation to meet the aim set out above concern provisions on interoperability and technical harmonisation in the railway field, the technical approval of railway material intended for use in international traffic and contributing to the facilitation of border crossing in international carriage by rail. Article 38 of the 1999 Protocol provides that accession to the Convention is open to regional economic integration organisations, an explicit reference to the (then) Community. In the meantime, Community competence in the railway sector has evolved considerably since the signature of the Vilnius protocol, and a number of areas covered by the Protocol are now the exclusive responsibility of the Community, and particularly the matters concerning railway interoperability.
OJ Reference -, 01/01/2100, p. -
Contracting Parties European Union, Albania, Algeria, Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom
Authentic Texts English, French, German
Subject Matters Transport
Accession Article 37 Convention
Amendment and review Article 33 Convention
Authentic Texts Article 45 Agreement
Regional and International Organisation (REIO) Article 38 Agreement
Suspension / Termination Article 40-41 Agreement
Technical provisions and reservations Article 42 Agreement
Management Administrative Committee (Article 15)
Other Links
Date of Signature 23/06/2011
Conclusion Date 23/06/2011
Ratification Status AC
Conclusion Decision 3098th Council meeting, Transport, Telecommunications and Energy - 16 June 2011 Luxemburg. See doc. 10762/2/10, attached. Not published in the OJ.
Date of Entry Into Force 01/07/2011
Competence -
Voting Right(s)
EC exercises voting rights of its MS contracting parties (if EC votes MS no and vice-versa) Article 4 Agreement
Financial Provision of Agreement Article 3

The European Community will not contribute to the budget of OTIF and will not take part in decisions concerning that budget.
Legal Basis Treaty EC: Article 71
General Comments The Agreement between the European Union and the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail on the Accession of the European Union to the Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF) of 9 May 1980, as amended by the Vilnius Protocol of 3 June 1999, signed in Bern, Switzerland on 23 June 2011, entered into force on 1 July 2011, in accordance with Article 9 of the Agreement.

The text of the COTIF has not been published in the Official Journal. The text attached in downloaded from the website of the Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF -

Last Update :   04/03/2013