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What is an electronic consignment note E-CMR?

An E-CMR consignment note is an electronic version of a document specifying the terms and conditions of a contract of carriage of goods. It is supposed to streamline the circulation of documents, as well as speed up formalities at the border. Work on this solution has been going on since 2008 and was written in the Additional Protocol to the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road (CMR) on the electronic consignment note. This protocol, in addition to the possibility of issuing electronic E-CMR letters, also gives permission for electronic communication between the parties to the contract (for the purpose of amending records or wishing to make claims).

Advantages of using an electronic consignment note E-CMR

Electronic waybills are the aforementioned time savings and more efficient workflow, but not only that. There are many more advantages, and among them are:

  • constant monitoring of shipments, so carriers can analyze them on an ongoing basis
  • documentation gathered in one place, which allows for its convenient collection and archiving.
  • the possibility of issuing an invoice as soon as the order is completed, which should shorten the waiting time for payment.
  • access to information on the course of transport for cargo maintenance.
  • streamlining border controls through quick access to transportation information.

Electronic consignment note E-CMR, and legal issues

The supplementary protocol to the CMR Convention was adopted by Poland on 11.09.2019. The European Parliament, meanwhile, adopted the Regulation on Electronic Freight Transport Information (eFTI) on 20.08.2020. Both documents address the same issues, with the difference that the eFTI Regulation describes them in more detail.

The key idea in the Ordinance is the obligation to provide information in machine-readable format through the eFTI platform. The second option is to present documents on the screen of mobile devices belonging to the carrier or customs.

All EU member states, according to the Regulation, are required to comply with the above by 2025 at the most.

At the same time, Poland is participating in the international DIGINNO project, which aims to accelerate the development of the digitization of the TSL industry and the transition to a single digital market in the Baltic Sea Region. In practice, this would mean using the eFTI platform connecting eFTI service providers with inspection authorities.