What does the abbreviation CMR stand for in logistics? What is meant by CMR?

The term refers to a treaty that sets out the rules for cross-border transport by land. It comes from the French term “Convention relative au Contrat de transport international des marchandises par route”. Currently, the CMR is valid throughout Europe and supersedes any existing national regulations. However, if the CMR does not sufficiently regulate a situation, the national laws apply as well. The digital waybill is called e-CMR.

What is it required for?

If the pick-up location and the delivery location of a consignment of goods are in two different member countries, the CMR is mandatory. However, it can also be used for a delivery to a location in a non-EU member state. For that, that country needs to agree to the CMR before the transport and thus prioritise it over the applicable national law.

When does the CMR not apply?

The CMR is not used for the transport of postal goods (which is carried out based on the regulations of international postal agreements), the transfer of household items or human remains.

CMR vs CMR waybill

In practice, the abbreviation usually refers to the CMR waybill in the logistics sector, i.e. a special transport document in international transport by truck.It is solely used for the loading of road vehicles and excludes individual containers/swap bodies.

The CMR waybill is a standardised waybill in which the most important information and components of the international freight contract are documented in writing based on the guidelines of the CMR. It documents the transport contract concluded between the involved parties and is given to the freight carrier before the start of the transport. The waybill has multiple copies that need to be signed by both the sender and the freight carrier.

Required information in the waybill includes: Sender, receiver, information regarding the enclosed documents, type and amount of the transported goods, important characteristics and other properties of the goods, special instructions regarding the handling, licence plates and the freight carrier. Based on the contractual requirements, the CMR waybill needs to written in English or French.

What duties do the contracting parties have?

The contracting parties of a CMR document have to fulfil certain duties. These include, unless otherwise agreed upon, the following:

  • Transfer of all the required information of the freight from the sender to the freight carrier.
  • Delivery of the freight by the sender
  • Packaging of the goods in a way that is safe for transport by the sender
  • Secure and timely transport by the freight forwarder
  • Issuing of a receipt by the receiver
  • Payment of the agreed freight by the sender
  • Transport of the goods under the agreed conditions by the freight forwarder
  • Delivery of the goods at the agreed unloading point by the freight forwarder

Who fills in the CMR waybill?

The CMR does not include a rule regarding this. However, the issued waybill needs to be signed or stamped by the sender and the freight forwarder. Additionally, the sender is liable for all costs and damages that are incurred for the freight forwarder if information is untrue or incomplete. Therefore, in practice, it is issued either by the sender or the freight forwarder.