International Road Federation (IRF )

IRF History

Evolution of IRF’s logo since its creation until today.

How it Began

Late in 1947, following a meeting of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, a small group consisting of M. Gallienne (Union Routiere de France), M. Britschgi (Federation Routiere Suisse) and several prominent American and European business leaders met in Paris to discuss the founding of an international organisation to weld together the “Good Roads Associations” existing in many countries. Inspired by the economic and social benefits which had been dramatically demonstrated in those countries having road associations, the advantages of projecting this activity to a worldwide level was obvious.

The response of industry directly interested in Road Transport to the suggestion of an International Road Federation was immediate and whole-hearted. Allied organisations such as Automobile Clubs, Road Construction Societies and others warmly welcomed one over-all organisation to express the economic need for Good Roads.

The International Road Federation (IRF) was born in 1948 with two offices: one in London, and another one in Washington. Executive Directors were appointed and a secretariat team assigned. The Statutes of both contained the same objectives directed towards promoting the development of Good Roads. Washington would conduct its work in the Western Hemisphere and London in Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Both IRF offices implemented their work in two fields: firstly, the support of their National Associations, and secondly, by representation at the international level. National Road Federations already in existence quickly affiliated with IRF. In other countries, with the assistance of IRF, national organisations formed and also joined. By 1950, IRF had become the consultative agency to the United Nations on Road subjects and served in several other international meetings of government agencies and industry organisations.

The work of IRF had been projected into 50 countries where national associations were in some degree of formation. Hence, by the end of 1950 London and Washington jointly decided on the establishment of a third office in Paris. This new office would conduct the affairs of Continental Europe, Turkey and North Africa.

With Geneva becoming the key platform for international transport regulations through the work of UNECE and its Inland Transport Committee, it was then decided in 1964 to merge the London and Paris offices and set up a new headquarter in Geneva to allow working even more closely with the United Nations and other international organisations and from where to continue the international expansion of IRF.

To this day, the International Road Federation (IRF) holds its official headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

  • 1948

    IRF is born. Two offices are established, one in Washington, D.C. and one in London.

  • 1949

    IRF Fellowship Programme established.

  • 1950

    IRF Paris Office established.

  • 1951

    First publication of World Highways Report.

  • 1953

    First compilation of IRF Statistics released.

  • 1964

    • London and Paris offices merged and headquarter established in Geneva.
    • The IRF World Road Statistics (WRS) are born.
  • 1975

    IRF accepts Governments as members.

  • 1984

    IRF Videotape training library is created.

  • 1999

    IRF is incorporated in Bermuda as a global organisation with two Programme Centres (IRF Washington and IRF Geneva) and International Statutes voted and approved by the entire IRF membership for governing the global organisation.

  • 2009

    Establishment of IRF India-Chapter.

  • 2010

    IRF hosts its 16th IRF World meeting in Lisbon.

  • 2016

    IRF Washington Programme Centre unilaterally retires from IRF and establishes IRF Global.

  • 2017

    IRF hosts the 18th IRF World Meeting in New Delhi.

  • 2022

    IRF World Road Statistics shift to Open-Data Policy.

  • 2023

    IRF Celebrates 75th anniversary and the 60th Edition of the IRF World Road Statistics (WRS).