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What are CMR Consignment Notes and Why are they so important?

What Are CMR Consignment Notes and Why Are They So Important

In today’s increasingly connected world, trading goods between buyers and sellers in different countries has become increasingly convenient and secure. A lot of the credit for the security and safety of the road transportation of goods and the continued success of this supply chain is thanks to the advent of CMR notes.


But what is a CMR consignment note? Read on to discover everything you need to know about it!

A CMR international consignment note (aka ‘CMR Delivery Note’) is a European transport-related document used for compensation and liability across 29 member nations for goods moved via road transportation. It was incepted in Geneva on May 19, 1956, via the Convention of The Contract for The International Carriage of Goods, to standardise a widely accepted contract of carriage.

The consignment note’s abbreviation CMR stands for “Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road.” This standardised transportation document has ensured the same road transport regulations across many countries.

The CMR international consignment is essentially a contract of carriage between the consignee, consignor, and carrier. Many countries throughout Europe and beyond have already implemented the use of CMR consignment notes which the EU plans to make mandatory by 2026.


CMR Ratified Countries

In the beginning, the CMR was implemented by eight signatory states. However, an electronic protocol or eCMR was implemented in 2008. According to the UN, a total of 29 countries have ratified the eCMR since 2011.

The CMR delivery note is predominantly signed by European countries as well as a few countries in Central Asia, plus Russia. In the EU, around 377 million eCMRs are used annually for cross-border transportation. The ratified European countries include Denmark, France, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Ukraine, and more. The Central Asian countries that have signed the eCMR include Iran, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.


When Do You Need a Consignment Note?

The CMR consignment note is an essential document that haulage companies need when transporting goods from one CMR-ratified country to another via road. Moreover, they need a CMR note to transport all sorts of general and hazardous goods. The only stipulation is that they are being transported via the road network across Europe and the other CMR-ratified countries. With that said, a small number of goods don’t require a CMR consignment note including those that are radioactive or classified as hazardous waste.

The CMR consignment note is an essential document that haulage companies need when transporting goods from one CMR-ratified country to another via road


What Purpose Does a CMR Consignment Note serve and Why Does that Matter?

Now that you know what a CMR consignment note is, you naturally want to know its purpose. They serves two purposes:

The first is that they are a contract of carriage and transport-related document that assign liability to the party responsible for the goods.

Secondly, they also indicate the compensation, i.e., the amount the consignee or consignor will pay in case of any damage to the goods.

The great thing about them is that they are a 4-part Quadruplicate document as standard, thus If you lose an issued CMR delivery note during goods’ transportation, the contract will remain valid, and so will the agreements made during the convention, plus the haulage company has multiple sheets of record for each stakeholder.

Since a CMR helps you establish liability, it offers you varied benefits, including added protection. It will protect both the sender and carrier of the goods during transportation. Plus, if the goods are damaged or lost during transit, the consigner or consignee can file a claim against the haulage or transport company and receive compensation from them.


What Needs to Be Mentioned on a CMR Note?

Consignment delivery notes need to contain ten mandatory data fields. If you enter inaccurate CMR data, it will result in a delay in transportation, and the goods sender might end up with a monetary penalty.

Here’s everything that you need to mention in a CMR consignment note:

  • The signature or stamp of the consignor or their designated signatories, with the location and date of the note
  • The complete name and address of the seller or the consigner needs to be mentioned
  • The complete name and address of the transporter or the nominated carrier who will transport the goods
  • The complete name and address of the buyer or the consignee that the goods will be issued to
  • The confirmed place of delivery nominated by the consignee (the place can be different than the place of receipt.) It can be a distribution centre or warehouse
  • The total number of cartons in the goods/consignment
  • A general description of the goods in each carton to indicate the contents
  • The weight and dimensions of each line item added underneath the carton quantity and the description of goods
  • The fees incurred for the transportation of the goods, including any additional charges. These fees are usually paid by the consignee or the consignor, depending on their buying terms. These charges typically include transportation costs and customs duties.

An expressed clause that dictates the carriage is part of the CMR note. It can be found on a CMR template, and it indicates that the CMR is subject to the rules specified in the Convention of The Contract for The International Carriage of Goods.

When travelling with a CMR, make sure to comply with the ten mandatory data fields above, but you can also mention other custom particulars including:

  • A statement that denies trans-shipment
  • A list of the documents or information handed to the carrier
  • An agreed-upon time limit within which the carriage will be carried out


What Is an eCMR and are they popular?

An eCMR is an electronic CMR delivery note. It’s also known as an electronic or e-protocol. Instead of the paper-based, 4-part NCR hard copy of a CMR, you can opt for a digital eCMR, i.e., a soft copy of the CMR.

The consignor or the trucking company can issue it. eCMR’s are gaining steady popularity over traditional paper-based as they can be instantly received and restored.

However, a huge number of firms still prefer a hard copy as older, wiser drivers who have been used to them prefer the physical document over digital as it guarantees they’ll be fit-for-purpose due to a constant complaint from drivers that certain parts of countries within Europe still have poor mobile telecoms and 3G or 4G data signals, let alone the future fantasy of 5G everywhere.

Many companies send their drivers off with a back-up, paper-based CMR on 4-part Carbonless NCR to ensure they’ll get the signatures if the mobile signals are poor at their destination.

Many companies send their drivers off with a back-up, paper-based CMR on 4-part Carbonless NCR to ensure they’ll get the signatures if the mobile signals are poor at their destination


Do You Need a CMR Delivery Note for Local Transportation?

No, you do not need a CMR consignment note for local transportation of goods. As mentioned above, a CMR consignment note is only required when you are sending goods by road across CMR-ratified countries. With that said, you will need to follow the local laws when delivering goods within your own country.


Who Issues a CMR Consignment Note?

Typically, the seller, i.e., the consignor, is required to issue the CMR consignment note. As a seller, you can seek the help of a forwarder to issue the CMR on your behalf. However, make sure that the sender’s data is accurate when you choose a nominated carrier’s help in filling in a CMR.

The forwarder is also legally required to check the accuracy of the declarations to prevent any errors. They must review all the information entered in the note, including the consigner's name and address, the number of packages, condition of goods and more. The forwarder can also formalise their remarks and put them in the relevant “reservations” box on the form. They should also have the form signed by the consignor to ensure their protection.

Now that you know all about CMR consignment notes, we hope you make an informed decision and issue a CMR Delivery Note before sending goods through another CMR-ratified country, post-Brexit.