What is the freight contract

Table of Contents

Road freight transport is one of the largest import and export channels in the world.


Companies that own a fleet of vehicles manage new partnerships, different agreements and new routes every day.


Knowing the various types of freight contracts, food distribution contracts, and international road haulage regulations is crucial to working calmly and not incurring administrative penalties.


Let’s look together at what the road freight contract is and how it works.

The freight contract

Freight contract means that agreement by which the driver undertakes to transfer goods from one point to another within the national territory. According to Article 1678 of the Civil Code, through the contract of carriage, “the carrier undertakes, for consideration, to transfer persons or things from one place to another.


The main distinction made by the law concerns the difference between the parties to the covenant. In fact, we talk about:


  • It is the one who travels in the sphere of transportation of people
  • This person can be either an entrepreneur or an individual who carries out activities in a non-professional manner


Carriage is a special type of work contract, in which the work is constructed by the carriage: the carrier’s obligation is therefore typically an obligation of result.


Based on the subject matter and means used, a distinction is made between a contract for the transportation of goods (such as a food distribution contract) and the transportation of people:


  • According to Articles 1681 and 1862 of the Civil Code, in the transportation of goods, the contract is concluded between the carrier and the shipper. The former, having received delivery of the tangible property, is obliged to perform the transportation in deference to the manner and terms of the true contract, in the absence thereof, according to law and custom, as well as to keep the things at the place of destination, complying with what the sender has indicated.


  • With regard to the carriage of persons, Articles 1681 and 1862 of the Civil Code make a distinction between carriage for consideration or free of charge, that is, through a payment of money against the obligation of carriage, or amicable, where the obligation is lacking.

The food distribution contract

As we have seen, the freight contract is signed by the carrier and the principal.

Within this type of agreement falls a popular form of contract: the food distribution contract, in which the principal takes responsibility for delivering products and setting reasonable delivery times.

With this in mind, the storage of goods assumes paramount importance. There are precise instructions on this matter that all carriers must follow, even and especially to avoid administrative penalties.

The handling of food products during transportation follows strict rules:

  • Temperature compliance
  • Caution in stowage
  • Precision in anchoring and securing goods

Of course, the carrier must always have a copy of the contract and the DDT, i.e., the transport document (in jargon called a packing slip) on board.

International road haulage contract

At the international level, the contract of carriage is governed by the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road (CMR) signed in Geneva in 1956 and made effective in Italy by Law no. 12621 of December 6, 1960.


Article 1 of the regulations defines the international road haulage contract as an agreement “for the carriage for consideration of goods by road by means of vehicles, irrespective of the domicile and nationality of the parties, when the place of receipt of the goods and the intended place of delivery specified in the contract are located in two different countries, at least one of which is a party to the Convention.


Within the contract must necessarily be included:

  • Place and date
  • Name and address of recipient
  • Name and address of the carrier
  • Place and date of receipt of goods and expected place of redelivery


Information is also added regarding the current name of the nature of the goods, kind of packaging, gross weight and quantity otherwise expressed by the goods, charges related to transportation and instructions required for customs formalities.

It is also necessary to specify that transportation is governed by the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road (CMR).

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