Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail

General information (Summary)

The Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF) was set up on 1 May 1985. The Organisation’s basis under international law is the Convention of 9 May 1980 (COTIF). The predecessor of OTIF was the Central Office for International Carriage by Rail, which was set up in 1893.


Until the signature of the Protocol of 3 June 1999 (Vilnius Protocol) for the modification of COTIF, the objective of this Governmental Organisation was principally to develop the uniform systems of law which apply to the carriage of passengers and freight in international through traffic by rail. These systems of law have been in existence for decades and are known as the CIV and CIM Uniform Rules.


50 States are Members of OTIF at the present time (Europe, Asia and North Africa) and one State is an Associate Member  (Jordan). At present, international carriage by rail on railway infrastructure of around 270,000 km and the complementary carriage of freight and passengers on several thousand kilometres of shipping routes, inland waterways and (in domestic carriage) roads are concerned by the uniform law created by OTIF.


The headquarters of the Organisation are in Berne, Switzerland. Its organs are the General Assembly, the Administrative Committee as the financial and administrative supervisory body, the Revision Committee, the Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, the Committee of Technical Experts and the Rail Facilitation Committee. The Secretary General provides the secretariat services.

Focus of activities:



Further development of rail transport law in the following areas:

  • contracts of carriage for the international carriage of passengers and goods (CIV and CIM),
  • carriage of dangerous goods (RID),
  • contracts of use of vehicles (CUV),
  • contract on the use of railway infrastructure (CUI),
  • validation of technical standards and adoption of uniform technical prescriptions for railway material (APTU),
  • procedure for the technical admission of railway vehicles and other railway material used in international traffic (ATMF);


Widening the scope of COTIF in order to make possible in the longer term through carriage by rail under a single legal regime from the Atlantic to the Pacific;


Preparing for the entry into force of the Luxembourg Protocol (Registry for International Interests in railway rolling stock, Secretariat of the Supervisory Authority);


The removal of obstacles to the crossing of frontiers in international rail transport;


Participation in the preparation of other international conventions concerning rail transport within UN/ECE and other international organisations.




General information (Russian version)



General information (long version)

Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail (OTIF)

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