Rail Consignment Note (CIM)


The CIM consignment note regulates international carriage of freight traffic by rail. The contract is concluded when the railway undertaking accepts the shipment, and the dispatch station’s stamp (a date stamp) is placed on the consignment note. Signed/stamped by both sender and the carrier, the CIM consignment note is used in most European countries and in several countries that are party to the Convention concerning International Carriage by Rail (COTIF). Both the sender and the receiver (consignee) have the right to modify the carriage contract.


The consignor who issues this consignment note in the country of dispatch’s language with a translation into one of three languages: French, German, or English.


The consignee who receives both the shipment and original consignment note.

Legal framework

CIM UR (Uniform Rules concerning the Contract of International Carriage of Goods by Rail) provides a legal basis for the electronic consignment note. It is harmonised with the law applicable to other modes of transport, in particular with the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road (CMR).

Key standards

The issuance of paper and electronic consignment notes are recommended to follow latest edition of CIM Consignment Note Manual (GLV-CIM).


The CIM UR expressly provide a legal basis for the electronic consignment note (Article 6 § 9) based on the principle of functional equivalence, but no detailed requirements are stipulated.

In general, it can be observed that in most OTIF (Intergovernmental Organisation for International Carriage by Rail) Member States there is a strong trend towards the transition from paper to electronic documents only, or in parallel with paper documents in national rail transport. However, the exclusive use of electronic transport documents is negligible in international rail transport.


The CIM consists of five printouts:

  1. original consignment note for the receiver of the shipment (consignee)
  2. invoice for carrier and supplementary sheet for carriers who invoice intermediate section
  3. arrival note/customs for destination customs office/destination carrier
  4. duplicate of the consignment note for the sender (consignor), as well as a supplementary sheet
  5. duplicate invoice for the forwarding carrier.