Guide

How to move goods by road

The CMR note: the key road transport document

The CMR note is the standard contract of carriage for goods being transported internationally by road. CMR stands for "Convention relative au contrat de transport international de marchandises par route".

What is a CMR note?

The CMR is a consignment note with a standard set of transport and liability conditions, which replaces individual businesses' terms and conditions. The CMR note confirms that the carrier (ie the road haulage company) has received the goods and that a contract of carriage exists between the trader and the carrier. Unlike a bill of lading, a CMR note is not a document of title nor a declaration, although some states regard it as such. A CMR note does not necessarily give its holder and/or the carrier rights of ownership or possession of the goods, although some insurance is included.

How to complete the CMR note

You can fill in the CMR note yourself, or you can have a freight forwarder or the carrier do it for you. However, you remain responsible for the accuracy of the CMR note contents.

Information which needs to be covered in the CMR note includes:

  • the date and place at which the CMR note has been completed
  • The name and address of sender, carrier(s) and consignee (the person to whom the goods are going)
  • A description of the goods and their method of packing - this should be acceptable to both consignor and consignee (however, for security reasons, you do not always want the carrier to be able to identify valuable goods)
  • the weight of the goods
  • any charges related to the goods, such as customs duties or carriage charges
  • instructions for customs and any other formalities such as dangerous goods information

This list is not comprehensive. While the carrier is liable for any loss, damage or delay to a consignment until it is delivered, the trader is responsible for any loss or damage the carrier suffers resulting from incorrect details having been provided in the CMR note.

Generally there will be four copies of a CMR note:

  1. one kept by the trader
  2. one kept by the carrier
  3. one travelling with the goods all the way to their final destination
  4. an administration copy