The carrier undertakes, on the basis of a freight contract, to carry out transport over land (road or rail), on inland waterways, by air, by sea or a combination of these modes of transport (multimodal) in return for payment. When transporting goods by sea, the sea freight, one speaks of the carrier instead of the freight forwarder. The legal provisions for maritime shipping and maritime trade are also regulated separately in the German Commercial Code (HGB). Strictly speaking, a forwarder initially only organizes the transport. When he enters the market himself, i.e. when he also carries out the transport, he becomes the carrier. A logistician generally does not become a carrier, as he merely arranges the transport in a brokerage function.

The demands on carriers have changed considerably in recent years. Increasing division of labor results in different locations involved in value creation in production. Transports are increasing and routes are sometimes becoming longer. Digitization and the use of modern logistics software are increasing the demands on the reliability of carriers. In international goods traffic, the increasing complexity in customs procedures also leads to the handling of additional services by the carrier.

Rights and duties of the carrier

The carrier assumes various duties during the transportation of the consignment. The main duty is the careful execution of the transport in compliance with the established delivery time (§ 432 of the Commercial Code). He undertakes to follow the instructions of the sender or consignee (§ 418 HGB). If the carrier violates his duties, he is liable for damages.

In addition to the duties, he also has certain rights. For example, the goods to be transported and the necessary accompanying documents must be handed over to the carrier in proper condition and securely packed (§§ 411, 413 HGB). In addition, he can demand that the sender issue a consignment note (§ 408 HGB). For the protection of the carrier, as long as he has the goods in his possession or can dispose of them by means of traditional documents, he has a statutory lien on the goods on the basis of all claims established by the contract of carriage (Sections 441, 443 HGB).