Logistics Glossary


What Is CMR?

CMR stands for the (French) phrase Convention relative au Contrat de transport international de merchandises par route. In English, the phrase translates as the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road, and thus relates to legal matters around road transportation of goods.

In 1956, the original CMR agreement was drawn up between several European states who were members of the United Nations. The agreement has since been broadened to include all European states, as well as several in Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa.

What Is a CMR Document?

Technically, CMR refers to the agreement between participating nations. However, the term is also used informally to refer to the waybill accompanying a shipment and recording the terms of the CMR agreement.

Another name for it is the CMR consignment note. Most European countries rely on it to regulate road freight since it forms a binding international agreement between them.

Even though the agreement has been broadened to include countries outside Europe, CMR contracts are legally binding only if the CMR document is written in English and/or French.

Why Is a CMR Document Important?

When goods are transported internationally, it is important to document every step along the journey. A CMR note has three important functions: The information function, the evidence function, and the receipt function.

The document contains important information about the goods being transported: What the goods are, what quantity, and how they should be handled. This information must be available at all steps in the transport process, for the benefit of the sender, carrier, and recipient.

When the goods arrive at their final destination, the recipient signs the document, and that constitutes proof that the goods have been delivered as promised. Simultaneously, proof of delivery serves to confirm receipt of the goods.

What Must Be Included in the CMR Document?

At the least, the document must state:

- Where and when the document was drawn up
- The names and addresses of both the transport company and the recipient of the goods
- A description of the goods, their packaging, and their weight
- The amounts charged for the goods at the various points in the journey
- Information about any hazardous materials being transported

A CMR consignment note may have as many as 24 components, recording details about who delivered the goods (and where, and how much, and how they were packed), how different carriers handled the goods along the way, who paid for them (and how much, and by what method), and the date on which the recipient of the goods confirmed that everything was present and correct.

In most cases, in a CMR transaction, the carrier is liable for any damages incurred, even if there was no fault on their part. That serves as excellent motivation for the carrier to do absolutely everything possible to ensure the goods are safely delivered.