Why do you need a transport document?
A properly completed transport document has all the information you need. It helps make the transport of your goods, and the related administration, run smoothly and quickly. The transport document proves who delivered the goods, when they were delivered, and what quantity was delivered. It is also serves as proof in case of damage caused by transport or loss of goods.
Transport by road: the CMR
The Convention Relative au Contrat de Transport International de Marchandises par Route (CMR) is an international treaty for transport by road. The CMR requires that goods being transported must come accompanied by a standard transport document or freight note, that is acknowledged and accepted in all of Europe, to be shown at Customs and police checks. You would do wisely to use this standard document.
Transport by rail: the CIM or ISV
Do you transport goods abroad by train? Then you’ll need a Convention Internationale concernant le Transport des Marchandises par Chemin de Fer (CIM) or Internationale Spoor Vrachtbrief (ISV). The document consists of 5 copies: one for you, one for the addressee, one for the destination station’s railway company, one for the export country’s railway company, and one for the station of departure’s railway company. The document has to be completed both by you and the railway company with which you make the transport arrangement.
Transport by air: the AWB
The AirWay Bill (AWB) is an air freight note containing information on the goods, their place of origin, and their destination. The AWB is proof of your transport agreement, and must be signed by the sender as well as the transporter. The AWB is a complicated document. There are several expediting companies who can help you fill it out, if you lack experience. You can search for one online, or you can check the Fenex site (in Dutch). The AWB number, the flight number, and the estimated time of arrival (ETA) are the most important data in air cargo. They enable you to locate the goods’ whereabouts.
Transport by water: the B/L
The B/L, or Bill of Lading, is a transferable transport document. That is to say, you or your customer can trade the goods by selling the B/L. Whoever owns the B/L, owns the goods.