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Freight accompanying documents

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Freight accompanying documents are an integral part of international cargo transportation. In each type of cargo transportation – whether by air, sea, or land transport – the bill of lading is the most important accompanying document.

Depending on the mode of transport, the types of bills of lading differ and are known as consignment notes, CMR, CIM, air cargo bill of lading, or other names. However, fundamentally – any type of bill of lading includes details about the consigned shipment and simultaneously serves as a contract between the cargo carrier and the cargo owner or sender. All these documents have legal force and fulfill legal obligations.

Cargo transportation accompanying documents

For different types of cargo transportation or delivery, the accompanying documents for cargo transportation can (and most often are) different. It’s important to consider that even within the same mode of transport (for example, land road transport), depending on the specific characteristics and composition of the cargo (oversized or ADR cargo), a different set of accompanying documents is required during transport.

Bill of lading

The bill of lading is necessary for international cargo transportation by both land road transport and transportation by air, sea, or rail. Regardless of the mode of transport, the bill of lading provides complete information about the consigned cargo and describes the cargo’s characteristics. Sometimes the bill of lading may contain information about the specific cargo’s insurance or some binding clauses. Essentially, this document is necessary whenever any cargo transportation is conducted.

Transportation contract (CMR)

In international road transport, the CMR acts not only as a bill of lading containing cargo information but also as a document that fulfills the functions of a transport contract and cargo insurance. The CMR bill of lading is regulated by the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road, and its abbreviated name (CMR) is derived from the French “Convention relative au contrat de transport international de Marchandises par Route”.

CIM bill of lading

In rail freight transportation, the CIM bill of lading or CIM documents, simply put, are the railway bill of lading. The CIM bill of lading certifies that the rail carrier has received goods from the sender or seller and also serves as a transport contract between both parties. Importantly – the CIM bill of lading also confirms that international railway transportation complies with the Uniform Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (English – The Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail; abbreviated as “COTIF”).

AWB bill of lading

For air freight, the cargo accompanying document is the air cargo bill of lading or AWB bill of lading (abbreviation from English – Air Waybill). The AWB certifies the fact that the airline has received the cargo. The air cargo bill of lading is also an internationally binding cargo transport contract between the sender and carrier. It also includes information about the cargo’s value, weight, and includes three-letter airport codes, allowing for tracking the air cargo’s location.

Bill of lading (B/L)

The bill of lading is a document required for sea freight and has the nature of certifying the cargo’s ownership rights. For this document to be legally binding, it must be filled out by the cargo seller and signed by an agent on a mandate basis. The bill of lading (like the bill of lading) contains information about the cargo, including a description of the cargo’s composition, information about the carrier, sender, and cargo delivery location, as well as the dispatch date and binding contract conditions.

Cargo / Goods packing list (manifest)

The cargo or goods packing list (English – “Packing list”) is prepared for customs procedures when importing or exporting goods to or from countries outside the European Union. The packing list (manifest) provides accurate information about each consigned cargo unit (for example, a pallet or box), precisely indicating its weight, volume, dimensions, and identifying in detail the goods contained in the package.

Certificate of origin

The Certificate of Origin (English – “Certificate of Origin”) is an international document necessary for the circulation of goods outside the European Union. The Certificate of Origin confirms that the goods were produced in a specific country and is mainly required for customs procedures to determine customs tariffs. The Certificate of Origin also serves to apply and comply with trade measures or requirements. In Latvia, the Certificate of Origin is issued by the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LTRK).

Veterinary (Health) certificate for animals

The veterinary (health) certificate for the international circulation of animals and animal-derived products is issued and filled out by a PVD inspector (veterinarian), authorized by the service for certificate approval and issuance. To obtain the veterinary (health) certificate, a person submits an application to the service, indicating information about the cargo, transportation, and other binding information necessary for the importation of the respective cargo to the destination country. The certificate is issued before the cargo is exported from the country’s territory.

ATA carnet

The ATA carnet (English “Carnet ATA”) is referred to as a “goods passport” and is an international customs document that allows for the temporary import of goods without customs duty. “ATA” is an abbreviation from English “Temporary Admission”. The ATA Carnet includes uniform customs declaration forms, and its purpose is to facilitate global trade by reducing obstacles caused by differing customs regulations of various countries.

Export/Import declaration

In all European Union member states, an import declaration is formed and must be submitted for all shipments if cargo or goods are imported from third countries, and tax must be paid on the imported goods. If cargo is exported outside the borders of the European Union countries, then an export declaration is formed for customs formalities. Only after the export declaration is processed, the cargo or goods are allowed to cross the European Union border.

Dangerous goods declaration

The sender’s dangerous goods declaration must be prepared for all dangerous goods shipments and printed form attached to the dangerous cargo or shipment, additionally indicating a contact person who can be contacted 24/7 in case of an emergency. The sender’s dangerous goods declaration certifies that the packaging and labeling of the cargo or goods in the shipment, as well as their declaration, have been carried out appropriately and in accordance with the Dangerous Goods Transportation Regulations.

Other permits and licenses

To ensure safe cargo transport and avoid unnecessary complications during cargo transportation, it’s necessary to consider the need for additional permits and licenses appropriate to the cargo specifics, required for the actual transportation on a particular route. A suitable license or special transport permit, allowing participation in road traffic or carrying out cargo transportation, may be required, for example, for dangerous (ADR) cargo, as well as oversized or heavy cargo.

Madara Jātniece

Madara Jātniece

Madara works with local and international clients, constantly identifying new opportunities for collaboration related to transportation services and the logistics solutions offered by SIA "RITLOGISTIKA".

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