The CMR Process
The carrier is responsible for any loss, damage or delay to a CMR up until its delivery. When the goods are handed over, the carrier must check the number of packages, their marks and their numbers. Furthermore, he is obliged to check the apparent condition of the goods and their packaging. On the contrary, the sender is liable for any loss or damage that the carrier suffers 10 when the details were incorrect (UNECE, 1956). The objective of the next figure is to describe the transaction process and its parties involved:
Figure 1: Sequence Diagram CMR (based on UNECE, 2018, p. 6)
In the first step, the Transport Service Buyer provides the relevant consignment instructions to the sender. The sender usually issues the CMR and gives the goods to the carrier. As an alternative, the carrier can issue the CMR by himself. The sender and the carrier must both sign the CMR when the goods are handed over. Any discrepancies between the goods received versus the consignment instruction must be reported in the document. Then, the carrier ships the goods and its consignment note to the place of delivery. If necessary, the carrier provides the information to the authorities when crossing a border. At the place of delivery, the consignee checks the condition of the package and signs the CMR as a proof of delivery. In the end, the sender receives the confirmation of the receipt (UN Economic Commission for Europe, 2018).
The e-CMR on the Rise
In February 2008, the e-CMR protocol was issued by the UNECE, which requests that the CMR should be managed electronically. It facilitates the existing paper-based process with an electronic recording and handling of data. The protocol states that the e-CMR shall be considered to be equivalent to the CMR. Instead of a manual signature, the e-CMR is authenticated by a reliable electronic signature that ensures its link with the electronic consignment note. Reliability means that the electronic signature is:
- Uniquely linked to the signatory
- Capable of identifying the person who signed the e-CMR
- Under the sole control of the signatory
- Linked to the data of the documents so that any subsequent change of the data is detected
In addition to the authentication of the signature, the e-CMR must be accessible in a neutral database by any party entitled to it. That is also important for the documents supplementing the electronic consignment note. The e-CMR enters into force in a country after its ratification of the protocol (UNECE, 2008). Currently, 29 countries have signed protocol:
Figure 2: Map of contracting parties (UNECE, 2021)
The map shows that a few significant countries in Central Europe are missing. However, Germany and Italy are currently working on ratifying the convention (UNECE, 2021). The pressure to ratify this protocol will even increase in the next couple of years due to the recent eFTI initiative by the European Commission.
- (2018). Towards paperless transport within the EU and across its borders—Sub-gorup 1: Electronic transport documents.
- European Commission. (2018b). REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL on electronic freight transport information.
- (1956). Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road (CMR). 46.
- (2008). ADDITIONAL PROTOCOL TO THE CONVENTION ON THE CONTRACT FOR THE INTERNATIONAL CARRIAGE OF GOODS BY ROAD (CMR) CONCERNING THE ELECTRONIC CONSIGNMENT NOTE.
- (2018). BUSINESS REQUIREMENTS SPECIFICATION (BRS) e-CMR.
- UN Economic Commission for Europe. (2018). Business Requirements Specification (BRS) e-CMR.
- (2021). UN Transport Agreements and Conventions—Additional Protocol to the CMR concerning the electronic consignment note (e-CMR). https://www.unece.org/trans/maps/un-transport-agreements-and-conventions-27.html