Consignment note (also known as shipping list, packing list, packing slip, bill of parcel, unpacking note, packing slip, delivery list, customer receipt), also abbreviated as CMR, is a basic document signed during the conclusion of a contract for the transportation of cargo between the person ordering the transport and the shipping company. CMR itself, abbreviated as consignment note in domestic transport, is translated as Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road, which was drawn up on 19 May 1956 in Geneva, and came into force in Poland on 13 June 1962.

What is a waybill and when is it required?
Consignment note is a proof of concluding a contract of carriage mentioned above and it does not have a specific template, that is why its forms are different. This document is made out in three copies. One copy is for the sender, one is for the carrier and the third copy should accompany the consignment which is being transported to the consignee. It is important to note that the consignment note applies to commercial transport by road, rail, air and sea. It is worth knowing that it does not apply to the transport of postal consignments, resettlement goods and corpses.

What should a consignment note contain?
Each consignment note should be signed by the carrier and the sender, and the signature itself may be replaced by a stamp. However, the information that should be included on the document is important.

These include:

  • name, surname and address of the shipper.
  • the name and address of the carrier,
  • the name and address of the consignee,
  • the place and date of issue of the document,
  • the place and date of taking over of the goods for carriage and the place designated for delivery,
  • description of the nature of the goods and how they are packaged,
  • number of items, numbers or other characteristics identifying the consignment,
  • gross weight,
  • costs related to transport,
  • Instructions for customs and other formalities required by law,
  • a statement that the transport is subject to the provisions of the Convention.

Each consignment and cargo should be treated individually, therefore it is also worth noting additional options on the consignment note, which are important during transport. These may include a note prohibiting reloading, costs the sender accepts for himself, the amount of the possible collection, the declared value of the goods and the amount of insurance, or the agreed date of delivery. 
What are the most common errors on the waybill?
The correct issuing and filling in of the consignment note in road, rail, sea or air transport is an extremely important process, because in this kind of document every detail matters. Among the most common mistakes is giving an incorrect gross weight, which is always verified by forwarding companies and during customs clearance, because the weight should be the same as in other documents accompanying the shipment (e.g. on the invoice).
Other mistakes often occur in personal data, which can mean that the shipment cannot be delivered to the recipient. It is very important to remember about proper signatures, as they testify to the responsibility of the given persons for the receipt, carriage or delivery of goods. 

Waybill in rail transport
The consignment note in rail transport abbreviated as CIM is nothing more than a confirmation of the contract of carriage between the customer and the rail carrier. This document is issued at the commencement of transport and the obligation to complete it rests with the shipper and the carrier. The waybill in rail transport is valid until the cargo is delivered to the destination station, therefore, among other things, the place of delivery and takeover of the goods should be indicated on it. These data are the markings of specific stations. This document should also contain the NHM code, i.e. a list of goods intended to specify their name and position. International codes facilitate transportation and are part of simplified shipping procedures.

Air waybill
Air waybills are divided into three types identified by the symbols AWB (Air Way Bill), MAWB (Master Air Way Bill) and HAWB (House Air Way Bill). The first of these is a document stating the existence of a contract for interstate air transport, and should be completed in three original versions and six copies, each of which goes to the carrier (green), the consignee (pink) and the shipper (blue). The MAWB consignment note is produced when a forwarding company transfers the shipments of multiple customers to a single point of delivery, and the HAWB consignment note is the relevant document for consolidated individual air freight shipments.

The details on the AWB air waybill should include the date of shipment, the account number of the shipper and his name and telephone number, as well as the business address of the person sending the shipment. For the consignee's details, the consignee's name, address and telephone number are important.

Waybill for sea transport
In maritime transport, the consignment note is called a bill of lading, which is a certificate of carriage and at the same time the most important document confirming the receipt of cargo or goods on board. The bill of lading in sea transport is issued by the carrier or on his behalf by another person, most frequently the ship's captain. This document should contain the consignee's and docking company's details, the weight, quantity and volume of the goods, the counterparty, seal and waybill numbers, the name of the vessel, the place and date of issue and the port of loading and unloading. It is important to note that in the case of sea transport, the bill of lading never floats on the ship, as the forwarder, after issuing it, sends it to the shipper, and when payment for the goods is settled, the shipper sends it to the buyer. Then the consignee, being in possession of the original bill of lading, hands it over at the port to the forwarder's office at the destination and can then collect the goods.