The paper based CMR is the formal, legal document in the European supply chain that provides the evidence that an asset has been handed over to another business party in another country. The availability of a signed paper CMR in the administration is a legal obligation for selling parties. Upon inspection of tax authorities, selling parties need to provide these CMR documents for business transactions in the preceding 7 years.

The United Nations created the possibility for countries to digitalise the CMR process through the use of an electronic CMR since 2008. This electronic CMR has (if processed under the right conditions) the same legal status as the paper based CMR.

19 European countries (27 worldwide) ratified the e-CMR protocol so far. Countries need to sign “the e-CMR protocol” to allow the use of the electronic version of the CMR in their specific country.

Many European countries have ratified the e-CMR protocol in the past years. Ratification means that the e-CMR can be used as a legal document in the specific country. In 2019 United Kingdom, Poland, Rumania, Portugal, and Finland passed the e-CMR legislation in their parliaments. During 2020 Sweden, Norway and Ukraine already ratified the e-CMR protocol. Experts expect that Ireland and Greece will follow too during 2020. Germany has not signed the protocol yet, although the expectation is that this will happen within the coming year. Italy, Austria, Hungary, and the Balkan countries are then the last countries to create a complete European coverage. The expectation is that they will follow soon after Germany has ratified.

Belgium does allow the use of e-CMR in international transport and is even actively promoting its use yet is has not formally signed the e-CMR protocol. Any company that wants to start using e-CMR is advised to formally check with authorities.

It is important to note that although Germany has not ratified yet, transit traffic using e-CMR is allowed. When a transport starts in an e-CMR country and ends in an e-CMR country, the use of e-CMR is possible.