A pilot project which has been carried out involving organisations in France, the Netherlands and the UK marks the first ever border crossing using electronic consignment notes (e-CMR) with multiple countries on mainland Europe.

Part of a wider strategy to digitise trade facilitation systems, the Department for Transport (DfT) and other national authorities believe that it offers improved profitability, efficiency and supply chain visibility for the logistical chain and is better for the environment.

The UK has said that it supports initiatives to reduce the administrative burden for hauliers and recognises the merits of the solution and its advantages in terms of controls.

The paper-based CMR consignment note is an official document and contract between a consignor, carrier and addressee. It provides a paper trail of the logistics movement and is normally the sole document that the drivers of the trucks have in relation to the load they carry.

With e-CMR, shippers or transport operators will be able to electronically input, store and exchange logistics data, in real time, within the logistical chain.

The timely recording and exchange of logistics data means that users instantly receive information on the goods being transported, so any required subsequent actions, such as initiating legal processes, invoicing or even accident response procedures happen faster and at less cost.

Switching to digital solutions minimises the potential for human error and can adopt multi-language platforms for seamless international application.

The pilot project is seen as an important new milestone for e-CMR deployment, proving that it works and is simple to implement and can be used for cross-Channel logistics to and from the UK.

The next step is for the UK to decide to ratify with the United Nations the necessary e-CMR protocol, which could be in effect by the end of 2019.

Last reviewed 8 May 2019