What is an International Consignment Note (CMR note)?

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How to complete a CMR note
Picture by Rhys Moult

International Consignment Note (CMR note):

Or translated loosely as ‘Carriage of Merchandise by Road’ (CMR) is a carriage of goods document, used during international trading activities where goods are to be transported by road only. The CMR note is sometimes referred to as the ICN (International Consignment Note), and it contains information about the:

  • Sender (Exporter of the goods)
  • Carrier (Haulage firm responsible for transporting the goods by road)
  • Receiver (Importer of the goods)
  • Nature of the goods (whether dangerous or non-dangerous)
  • Packaging of the goods
  • Carriage Costs that may be charged
  • Weights and Measure of the consignment
  • Collection and Delivery details for the consignment

The CMR in paper form is split into four parts:

  1. Sender’s copy
  2. Carrier’s copy
  3. Receiver’s copy (and attached to the consignment till destination)
  4. Administration copy

Electronic version of the CMR Note: With the advent of computerisation, electronic copies of the CMR are created, stored, distributed and validated online of a paperless audit trail.  However, where necessary PDF versions can be printed locally for paper versions.  For more on electronic CMR, see online applications such as EdgeCTP, who are leading the way in paperless trading practices.

Carriage of Merchandise by Road (CMR) note
Legacy paper version of the CMR (SITPRO)

When is a CMR note used?

If your goods are being transported internationally by road you MUST use a CMR note.

The CMR note forms a contract between the sender and the carriage company (haulier), which confirms that the carrier(s) has received the goods for transportation by road to an international destination. Additionally, the CMR also sets out the transport and liability conditions between the sender and carriage company (companies, if more than one).

Why do I need a CMR Note?

A haulier MUST have a CMR to carry goods internationally by road on a commercial basis (i.e. from the UK to Morrocco). If a completed CMR is NOT provided by the sender, then the haulage company has the right to refuse the consignment.

Additionally, by documenting the agreed responsibilities of both parties, the CMR offers an extra level of protection in the case of goods being lost or damaged in transit.

How to complete the CMR Note

Logistics/Haulier or Freight Forwarder firms will be able to help you complete the CMR note and usually in paper copy form (4 part version).  However, you are responsible for the information declared on the CMR, so knowing how to complete a CMR note is vital for your international trading responsibilities + knowledge.  That said, the simplest way to learn how to complete a CMR note is to use an online application such as EdgeCTP, where for FREE you get field-by-field help in completing the CMR note template and then can generate electronic or paper versions as required.

Here is a summary of the CMR sections and what you need to complete those sections.  Please note screenshots have been taken from EdgeCTP (where you can sign-up for a FREE 30-day trial and see how you progress without any obligations to continue).

1.  Exporter Details

Provide the name + address details of your organisation (if you are the sender/exporter of the goods).

2.  Consignee Details

Provide the name + address details of the buyer (the one who will receive the goods).

3.  Goods Collection Details

Provide the collection place, date and times of when the carrier firm collected the goods for transportation.

4.  Goods Delivery Details

Provide the delivery place and opening times to where the carrier firm must deliver the goods.

5.  Sender’s Instructions

Provide any instructions to support the handling of the goods; Customs clearance; insurance or any other instructions associated with the transportation and safe delivery of the consignment by road, and that the carrier firm must adhere to.

6.  Carriers Details (of principal carrier)

Provide name + address + contact details of the carrier responsible for primarily transporting the goods to the destination location.

7.  Successive Carrier Details (in case of multiple carriers)

Provide name + address + contact details of the carrier responsible for concluding the transportation of the goods to the destination location.  This section may/will need to be countersigned by the carrier upon receiving the goods + date of receipt + signature of receiving goods.

 8.  Carrier Reservations + Observations

Will be completed by the carrier, and will add comments on their reservation and observations at the point of taking charge of the goods, including adding the: a) number of consignment packages received; b) identification/ package marks or other numbers, and c) type of packaging. Any observations made here by the carrier must be endorsed by the Consignor (i.e. you as the exporter or sender of the goods).

9.  Documents Handed Over

Indicate any additional documents have been provided with the CMR note and consignment to the Carrier.  It is vital that a Commercial Invoice or Shipping Invoice is provided; in case the buyer needs proof of origin of goods, then a Certificate of Origin should also be provided; if the goods are covered under a trade agreement for reduced customs tariffs, then the associated Movement Certificate needs to be provided; if the goods are hazardous or dangerous in nature then a Dangerous Goods Note (DGN) may be accompanied (although the CMR note already have provisions for Dangerous Goods); it is also prudent to add a Packing List for the goods being consigned.

10. to 15.  Product Details

Provide the necessary details on the product(s) being consigned by road, including markings; quantities; packing; nature; weight and measures, and in case of Dangerous or Hazardous goods, the UN and ADR details for the goods.

16.  Special Agreement

Provide any special agreements particulars you (the sender) have agreed with the carrier, such as declaring the value of the goods; transportation time limits; handling and transportation considerations for the safe carriage of the goods; palette usage and loading, stowing and unloading; ferry transportation admission; applicable jurisdictions, and transport contractual obligations upon both parties.

17.  Payable Amounts by Sender (Consignor) and Buyer (Consignee)

Provide Carriage Charges; Supplementary Charges; Custom Duties and other Charges payable by both the Sender (exporter) and Buyer (importer) of the goods.

18.  Other Useful Particulars

Provide any additional details that would be of use to other parties, such as vehicle license plate number; net weight of goods (gross weight is already stated); loading capacities; any relevant Carnets or Customs documents required during transportation of the goods.

19.  Cash on Delivery

Provide the amount of monies that the Consignee MUST pay (reimburse) to the Carrier at the point of delivery and that the Carrier MUST pay to the Consignor (Sender) in full, even if the Consignee did NOT pay (reimburse) the exact/full amount. Any amounts MUST be paid in the denomination currency.

20. to 24.  Declaration

For the Sender’s section (21 + 22), provide the Place CMR Created; Date CMR Create and sign/stamp the appropriate area.

The Carriers and Consignee/Receiver complete their sub-sections within this declaration portion of the CMR note.

Where can I get a CMR note?

You can get a CMR template from:

  • Logistics/Haulier firms or Freight Forwarders – just make sure it’s the UN-aligned format
  • HMRC (UK Government site)
  • Online Export Documentation platforms (such as EdgeCTP featured above)

Additionally, you can use an online solution such as www.edgedocs.com to help you generate paper and electronic versions, just remember to use the free 30-day trial to see how you get on first.

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