A freight invoice (СМR) is a contract agreement between a shipper, freight forwarder and cargo receiver, providing standard terms of international freight forwarding operations, especially in area of necessary documents and responsibility of freight forwarder in order to simplify transportation and international trade. The use of the freight invoice (СМR) supposes that, at least, one of the countries engaged in international freight forwarding operations (country of loading or country of unloading) is a party of CMR Convention.
In addition, CAJ developed the guidance “CMR Convention – Frequently asked legal questions” that is given below:
1) What is CMR Convention?
The CMR Convention (Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road) is international legal instrument and has been signed on May 19, 1956. It relates to various legal issues concerning transportation of cargo by road between the shipper, the freight forwarder and the cargo receiver. It is important to notify that CMR Convention provisions are dominant even otherwise is provided in the freight contract.
2) What countries are becoming parties to CMR Convention? Where can I download latest version of CMR Convention?
List of countries that are parties to CMR Convention and text of CMR Convention (in English, French and Russian languages) on website: http://www.unece.org/trans/conventn/legalinst.html.
Text of CMR Convention has never been changed.
On this website you can find the Protocol (1978) to Convention and list of countries –
In February, 2008 new Protocol to CMR Convention concerning the electronic form of invoice has been signed by UNO institutions. This Protocol will enter into force on the ninetieth day after five states have deposited their instruments of ratification or accession.
3) Which are criteria of CMR Convention application to freight forwarding?
At least one from two countries (country of taking over of the goods or country designated for delivery) is a CMR Convention contracting country;
The place of taking over of the goods and the place designated for delivery are situated in two different countries;
Freight forwarding has to be executed for reward;
At least one part of freight forwarding has to be executed by road in vehicles;
These provisions shall not apply to carriage performed under the terms of any international postal convention; to funeral consignments; to furniture removal.
4) Does CMR Convention regulate freight forwarding by road in vehicles between two points of the same country, if freight forwarding is executed on foreign territory (for example, freight forwarding between Russia and Kaliningrad region that is the Russian enclave separated from other territory of Russia)?
No, because t he place of taking over of the goods and the place designated for delivery are situated in a same country (even if goods pass a few borders). This type of freight forwarding is regulated by national legislation (for example, Russian).
6) If freight forwarding includes another types of transport (maritime transport, railway transport, etc.), how is used CMR Convention?
2 situations are possible:
1. If the goods, which have been loaded on a transport vehicle, remain on this transport vehicle, irrespective of type of transport, the provisions of CMR Convention shall be applied to all transportation (from door to door): for example, truck on board, truck on a train, etc.
However, if damages have been done during part of the transportation carried out by any type of transport (not by road transport), and damages are not caused by actions or inactivity of the freight forwarder, the provisions of CMR Convention do not regulate the responsibility of the freight forwarder. In such case the responsibility of the freight forwarder is regulated by the provisions applied to this type of transport. In other words, in this case, the freight forwarder is responsible for damages in accordance with mandatory rules for maritime freight forwarding, railway freight forwarding or air freight forwarding (in particular, related to plausible reasons and limitation of compensation applied to these types of transport).
2. If the goods initially have been transported by road transport and then have been overloaded on other type of transport, the provisions of CMR Convention shall be applied to the part of transportation carried out by road transport, if the conditions of CMR Convention (Article 1) are observed for transportation by road transport (see question 3).
7) Is the freight invoice (CMR) mandatory?
No, the freight invoice (CMR) is not mandatory for application of the provisions of CMR Convention.
The freight invoice (CMR) is considered as proof of the freight agreement, but an absence, irregularity or loss of the freight invoice (CMR) shall not affect the existence or the validity of the freight agreement which shall remain subject to the provisions of CMR Convention (Article 4).
In other words, acceptance of the goods by the freight forwarder without drawing up written freight agreement or the freight invoice (CMR) does not mean that the freight agreement has not been concluded.
In general, to avoid any problems related to the freight agreement, it is recommended to check that the freight invoice was drawn up correctly, as remarks in this document determine the responsibility during validity period of CMR.
The freight invoice (CMR) serves as proof of receipt of goods by the freight forwarder. Most countries consider that the freight invoice (CMR) is a control document that has to be on board the vehicle during transportation. In this case, the absence of the freight invoice can cause sanctions.
8) Is the freight invoice (CMR) valid, if some columns are not filled out?
Yes, the freight invoice (CMR) is valid if it is signed correctly (sealed) by the freight forwarder or the shipper. But if the freight invoice is not signed, it does not impact on the validity of the freight agreement (see previous question).
To download complete text of Convention on the Contract for the International carriage of goods by Road.