About OTIF


OTIF is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to international rail transport It has been active since 1893 and is the oldest international organization in the sector. It now has 50 Member States and 1 Associate Member. The Organization has its headquarters in Berne, Switzerland, and has legal personality under international law and in the national laws of its Member States.

OTIF develops unified railway law to connect Europe, Asia and Africa for 125 years!

In 2018, the Organization celebrated 125 years of unified law for international rail transport. Since the first rules for international freight transport entered into force (CIM – Berne Convention), the Member States and the Organization’s various bodies have developed and broadened the legal tools to facilitate the international transport by rail of freight, dangerous goods and passengers. The technical rules began to be developed at the end of the 20th century.

The Organization uses simple and effective tools to promote, improve and facilitate international carriage by rail. OTIF provides legal and technical interoperability for international carriage by rail. It works in close partnership with the European Union, the European Union Agency for Railways, the International Rail Transport Committee (CIT), the International Union of Railways (UIC), and the Organization for Co-operation between Railways (OSJD) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

Its basic legal instrument is the Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF 1999) and its seven Appendices. In 2011, the European Union (EU) acceded to COTIF 1999.

OTIF has three official languages: French, German and English (since 2002). The Organization is administered by a Secretariat and has three governing bodies and four operational bodies that develop international railway law.

OTIF was originally an administrative union set up in 1893 by the International Convention concerning the Carriage of Goods by Rail of 1890. Until the first Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail appeared in 1980 (COTIF 1980) and entered into force in 1985, OTIF was known as OCTI, the Central Office for International Carriage by Rail.