CMR stands for the French “Convention relative au Contrat de transport international des marchandises par route”. The CMR thus represent a convention on the contract of carriage in international road freight transport. Thus, the CMR apply to international transports carried out by road. They were codified and signed for the first time in 1956. In Germany, the CMR came into force in 1961 and is applied as the applicable law. Currently, all other EU members are also CMR contracting states, so that it is valid throughout Europe. The national law of the member states is thus superseded by the regulations of the CMR.

Scope of application of the CMR

The scope of the CMR is characterized by the following features. It is

    • a remunerated
    • international carriage
    • by road (land transport route)

For the contracting parties involved, the following also applies

    • at least one of the parties involved is a resident of a contracting state
    • or the CMR have been contractually agreed

The CMR does not apply to the international transport of postal goods, removal goods or corpses.

The CMR Waybill

The CMR waybill documents the contract of carriage concluded between the parties and is given to the carrier before the start of the transport. He receives three copies of the consignment note signed by the sender. One copy remains with the sender of the cargo and identifies him as the owner. The second copy remains to identify the carrier as the owner of the shipment. The third copy accompanies the goods until they are delivered to the consignee.

Since 1998, there is no longer an obligation to issue and carry a consignment note, but it can be required from the carrier according to § 408 HGB and also applies to the CMR documents. Generally, delivery bill, loading list or bordero are also sufficient. An inadequately completed or missing CMR consignment note does not affect the validity of the CMR within the framework of the freight contract.

Necessary data in the consignment note are mainly: sender, consignee, data on the attached documents, type and quantity of transported goods, important marks and other characteristics of the goods, special instructions for handling, vehicle registration number of the carrier.

For both the consignment note and the CMR, only writing in English or French is mandatory.

CMR application, obligations and liability

If the location of takeover and location of delivery of a consignment of goods are in two different member states, the CMR apply. The CMR are also applied in the case of delivery to third countries such as Russia, Turkey or Iceland. If a delivery is to be made to a location in a non-EU member state using the CMR, these countries must agree to the CMR prior to the transport and thus override national law.

The parties involved in the transport carried out under the application of the CMR must likewise comply with their obligations.

    • The shipper shall organize the dispatch and delivery of the goods to the consignee
    • The shipper is responsible for safely packing the goods for transportation
    • The carrier is responsible for the safe transportation
    • The carrier is responsible for timely transportation
    • The consignee shall acknowledge receipt of the goods delivered

Particular relevance has the CMR consignment note and the entries and acknowledgements documented there with regard to liability. The liability under CMR is largely structured as a so-called strict liability. The carrier is always liable depending on fault, but only to a limited extent independent of fault. The carrier is also liable for damage caused by personnel employed by him or subcontractors. The sender, in turn, is liable to the carrier for damage caused by the sender’s misconduct.