Last reviewed 12 May 2020

The rules for transporting goods internationally are covered by the United Nations Convention for the carriage of goods, known as the CMR (Convention relative au contrat de transport international de Marchandises par Route).

Goods companies, drivers and those receiving shipments use a CMR consignment note, which presents information about the shipped goods and the transporting and receiving parties.

Electronic consignment notes (e-CMR) have been gradually taking over from paper versions with the first border crossing to use them, in January 2017, being that between Spain and France.

The latest UK distributor of e-CMR has recently been announced as the Freight Transport Association (FTA),

The Association’s Manager of International Trade and Transport Procedures, John Lucy, said: “Given the scale of EU cross-border operations, continuing to produce consignment notes on paper is, in the view of the FTA, unsustainable; estimates show 200,000 trees are cut down each year to produce the paper required.”

The benefits of e-CMR will also extend beyond the environmental, he went on.

Users can also expect to see improved efficiency and transparency, reduced costs and administrative burden, and greater control and monitoring.

Hans Lip, Chief Operating Officer of TransFollow, the company which runs the UK network which the FTA has now joined, said that the system offered several advantages in the current circumstances, with additional restrictions and measures in place.

For example, recognising the problems of social distancing for drivers having to get freight documents signed by various people on their journeys, a contactless method has been introduced.

“With this new signing method, the driver, the sender and the receiver can control and sign the digital consignment note without any physical contact,” TransFollow explained. “There is also no need to hand over the smartphone or other device from the driver to the counterparty.”

Full details can be found at https://transfollow.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Manual_Contactless-Signing_EN.v2.pdf.