General terms and conditions of business

Last updated: July 2022


Announcement by the Federal Cartel Office No. 59 from July 6, 1998 (Federal Gazette [BAnz.] No. 130 from July 17, 1998), No. 4 from January 13, 1999 (Federal Gazette [BAnz.] No. 18 from January 28, 1999), No. 182 from September 19, 2001 (Federal Gazette [BAnz.] No. 184 from September 29, 2001). and No. 250 from December 17, 2002 (Federal Gazette [BAnz.] No. 3 from January 7, 2003).


These Terms and Conditions are recommended for use from January 1, 2003, by the Federation of German Industries (BDI, Federation of German Wholesale and Foreign Trade [BGA], Association of German Freight Forwarders [BSL], Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce [DIHK] and Federation of German Retailers [HDE]). This recommendation is non-binding. The contracting parties are at liberty to make agreements that deviate from the contents of this recommendation. 


The Freight Forwarder is obliged to safeguard the interests of the Principal and to undertake their activities with the due care and diligence of a prudent businessperson.


2.1 The German Freight Forwarders' Standard Terms and Conditions (ADSP) apply to transport contracts for all types of activities, irrespective of whether they relate to forwarding, freight, warehousing, or other transactions normally associated with the forwarding trade. This also includes logistics services customary in freight forwarding if these are connected with the transport or storage of goods.

2.2 In the case of forwarding contract activities as defined in Sec. 453 to 466 German Commercial Code (HGB), the Freight Forwarder is only responsible for concluding the contracts necessary for the performance of these services, unless otherwise stipulated by mandatory legal provisions or provisions in the General Terms and Conditions.

2.3 The German Freight Forwarders' Standard Terms and Conditions (ADSP) do not apply to transactions of which the sole purpose is –packing work, – the transport of removal goods or their storage, – crane or assembly work as well as heavy goods or large volume transport with the exception of the Freight Forwarder's handling activities, – the transport and storage of goods to be towed away or salvaged.

2.4 The German Freight Forwarders' Standard Terms and Conditions (ADSP) do not apply to transport contracts with consumers. A consumer is a natural person who concludes the contract for a purpose that cannot be attributed to either their commercial or self-employed professional activity.

2.5 If mercantile customs or statutory provisions deviate from the German Freight Forwarders' Standard Terms and Conditions, the latter take precedence, unless the statutory provisions are mandatory or fixed in the GTC. In the case of transport contracts for air, sea, inland waterway, or multi-modal transport, deviating agreements may be concluded in accordance with any special conditions of carriage drawn up for this purpose.

2.6 The Freight Forwarder is authorized to agree to the usual terms and conditions for third parties.

2.7 The German Freight Forwarders' Standard Terms and Conditions (ADSP) apply as the general terms and conditions of the intermediate forwarder in the relationship between the first and intermediate forwarder.


3.1 Orders, instructions, declarations and notifications are valid without the need for a specific form. Subsequent changes need to be clearly marked as such. The burden of proof for the contents and the correct and complete transfer lies with the party who relies on it.

3.2 Insofar as the written form is required for declarations, remote data transfer and any other legible form are deemed to be equivalent, provided that they render the issuer recognizable.

3.3 The Principal is obliged to inform the Freight Forwarder at the time of placing the order that the objects of the contract of transport are: – hazardous goods – live animals and plants – perishable goods – particularly valuable goods and goods at risk of theft.

3.4 On the order, the Principal is to state addresses, marks, numbers, amount, type and contents of the packages and the properties of the goods within the meaning of Sec. 3.3, the value of the goods for insuring them and all other circumstances recognizably relevant for properly executing the order.

3.5 In the case of hazardous goods, the Principal is obliged to inform the Freight Forwarder in writing of the exact nature of the hazard and – if necessary – of the precautionary measures to be taken when placing the order. If the goods are hazardous goods as defined by the law on the transport of hazardous goods or other goods whose transport or storage are subject to special regulations regarding hazardous goods, handling or waste, the Principal is obliged to provide all information necessary for the proper execution of the forwarding instruction, in particular classification according to relevant hazardous goods law.

3.6 The Principal is obliged to inform the Freight Forwarder in writing in sufficient time before the Freight Forwarder accepts the goods in case particularly valuable goods are to be transported or goods that are at risk of theft (e.g., money, precious metals, jewelry, clocks and watches, precious stones, works of art, antiques, debit cards, credit cards, valid telephone cards or other means of payment, securities, foreign currencies, documents, spirits, tobacco goods, entertainment electronics, telecommunication equipment, IT equipment and accessories) as well as goods with an actual value of 50 euro/kg and more, so that the Freight Forwarder has the chance to decide whether to accept the goods and can take measures to ensure the safe and secure handling of the order.

3.7 If an order placed with the Freight Forwarder does not comply with the conditions stated in Sec 3.3-3.6, the Freight Forwarder is free to: - refuse to accept the goods, - return goods already accepted or hold them ready for collection, - ship, transport or store them without notifying the Principal and demand additional, reasonable remuneration if safe and secure execution of the order is associated with higher costs.

3.8 The Freight Forwarder is not obliged to check or supplement the information provided under Sec. 3.3 to 3.6

3.9 The Freight Forwarder is not obliged to verify the authenticity of signatures on any notices or other documents concerning the goods or the authority of the signatories unless there is reasonable doubt as to their authenticity or authority.


4.1 In the absence of an agreement, the order given to the Freight Forwarder does not include

4.1.1 Packing the goods

4.1.2 Their weighing, examination, measures to maintain or improve the goods and their packing, unless this is customary in the business,

4.1.3 Providing and exchanging pallets or other loading aids and packaging. If these are not swapped one for one, collection will only take place if a new order is placed. This does not apply if the swap is not made at the behest of the forwarder.

4.2 Activities subject to Sec. 4.1 are to be remunerated separately.


5.1 The order for shipment to a destination abroad includes the order for customs clearance if transportation to the destination is not feasible without it.

5.2 In addition to the actual costs incurred, the Freight Forwarder can charge a separate fee for customs clearance.

5.3 The instruction to forward bonded consignments or to deliver them free of charge includes the authorization for the Freight Forwarder to decide on the completion of the necessary customs formalities and interpretation of the duties fixed by the customs authorities.


6.1 The Principal is to label the packages clearly and durably with the markings necessary for their proper handling in accordance with the order, such as addresses, signs, numbers, handling and property symbols; old markings are to be removed or rendered unrecognizable.

6.2 The Principal is also obliged to

6.2.1 Mark packages belonging to one consignment as easily recognizable as belonging together;

6.2.2 Prepare packages in such a way that access to the contents is made impossible without leaving externally visible traces (adhesive tape, strapping or similar are only sufficient if they are individually designed or otherwise difficult to imitate; wrapping with foil only if it is sealed);

6.2.3 For a consignment to be handled as groupage freight, which consists of several pieces or units with a girth (largest circumference plus longest edge) of less than 1 m, group them into larger packages;

6.2.4 For a consignment to be dispatched as a hanging consignment that consists of several pieces, to combine these into handling units in closed wrappers;

6.2.5 Affix to packages of not less than 1 000 kg gross weight the weight marking prescribed by the law governing weight markings on heavy cargo conveyed by ship.

6.3 Packages are individual items or units formed by the Principal to process the order, e.g., crates, lattice boxes, pallets, handle units, closed loading containers such as covered or tarpaulin wagons, trailers or swap bodies, containers, refrigerators.

6.4 If the packages do not meet the conditions specified in Sec. 6.1 and 6.2, Sec. 3.7 applies accordingly.


7.1 The forwarder is obliged to check the packages at interfaces

7.1.1 for completeness, identity, externally visible damage and integrity of the seals and closures and

7.1.2 to document irregularities (e.g., in the accompanying documents or by means of separate notification).

7.2 Interface refers to any transfer of packages from one legal entity to another, as well as delivery at the end of each transport route.


8.1 At the request of the Principal, the Freight Forwarder issues a confirmation of receipt. In this, the Freight Forwarder merely confirms the number and type of packages, but not their contents, value or weight. In the case of bulk goods, wagon loads and similar, in case of doubt, the confirmation does not contain confirmation of the gross weight or an otherwise stated quantity of the goods.

8.2 As proof of delivery, the Freight Forwarder is to request from the consignee a receipt for the packages named on the order or other accompanying documents. If the consignee refuses to provide a receipt, the forwarder must ask for instructions. If the goods have already been unloaded at the consignee, the forwarder is entitled to recover them.


9.1 Any instruction given concerning the goods remains binding for the Freight Forwarder until revoked by the Principal.

9.2 In the absence of sufficient or executable instructions, the Freight Forwarder is entitled to act in accordance with their professional judgment.

9.3 An order to hold the goods at the disposal of a third party cannot be revoked once the third party's order has been received by the Freight Forwarder.


10.1 Notification by the Principal that the order is to be executed freight collect or that the order is to be fulfilled for the account of the consignee or a third party does not affect the Principal's obligation towards the Freight Forwarder to pay the remuneration and other expenses.

10.2 The notification according to Sec. 10.1 does not contain any cash on delivery instructions.


11.1 In the absence of an agreement, loading and delivery deadlines are not guaranteed, nor is a specific sequence in the handling of goods with the same type of transport.

11.2 The statutory liability of the Freight Forwarder for exceeding the delivery deadline remains unaffected.


12.1 Obstacles to performance which are not attributable to the forwarder's sphere of risk release them from their obligations, the performance of which has become impossible, for the duration of such obstacles. In the event of an exemption according to Sentence 1 here, the Freight Forwarder and the Principal are entitled to withdraw from the Contract, even if the Contract has already been partially performed. If the Freight Forwarder or Principal withdraws, the Freight Forwarder is to be reimbursed for the costs which they could reasonably consider necessary or which are of interest to the Principal.

12.2 The Freight Forwarder will only check within the scope of their duty of care and advise the Principal whether any legal or official impediments exist for the shipment (e.g., import and export restrictions). However, if the Freight Forwarder has through public announcements or in the course of contract negotiations conveyed the impression that they dispose of specialist knowledge concerning certain types of transactions, they must comply with the aforementioned duties of inspection and advice.

12.3 Acts of public law for which the Freight Forwarder is not responsible do not prejudice the rights of the Freight Forwarder in respect of the Principal; the Principal is liable to the Freight Forwarder for all consequences arising out of such events. Any claims the forwarder may have against the state or any other third party are not affected thereby.


Delivery takes place with liberating effect to every person present in the business or household of the recipient unless there are justified doubts as to their entitlement to receive the goods.


14.1 The Freight Forwarder is obliged to give the Principal the requisite information, to provide upon request information about the status of the transaction and to render account after its performance; however, they are only obliged to disclose the costs if they are acting on behalf of the Principal.

14.2 The Freight Forwarder is obliged to hand over to the Principal everything they receive for performing the transaction and everything they obtain from the management of the business.


15.1 The Freight Forwarder can choose whether to store the goods in their own warehouse or in a third-party warehouse. If the Freight Forwarder stores goods with a third-party warehouse keeper, they are to inform the Principal in writing and without delay of the name and location of the warehouse or, if a warehouse keeper's warrant has been issued, to make a bill of it on the warrant.

15.2 The Principal is free to inspect the warehouse or to have it inspected. The Principal is to raise any objections or complaints against the storage of the goods or choice of warehouse without undue delay. If they do not make use of the right to inspect, they waive all objections to the manner of storage, provided that the choice of warehouse and the storage were made with the due care of a prudent Freight Forwarder.

15.3 The Principal is only permitted to enter the warehouse in the company of the Freight Forwarder during the latter's business hours.

15.4 If the Principal undertakes actions with the goods (e.g., sampling), the Freight Forwarder is entitled to request that the number, weight and nature of the goods be determined together with the Principal. If the Principal does not comply with this request, the Freight Forwarder's liability for damage ascertained later is excluded, unless the damage is not attributable to the actions performed with the goods.

15.5 The Principal is liable for all damage that they, their employees, or agents cause to the Freight Forwarder, other depositors or other third parties when entering the warehouse or when entering or driving onto the warehouse premises, unless the Principal, their employees or agents are not at fault.

15.6 In the event of discrepancies in inventory, the Freight Forwarder is entitled to balance the value of the stock in the event of simultaneous shortages and surpluses for the same Principal.

15.7 If the Freight Forwarder has reasonable doubts as to whether their claims are secured by the value of the goods, they are entitled to set a reasonable time limit for the Principal to either secure the Freight Forwarder's claims or to arrange for alternative storage of the goods. If the Principal fails to comply with this request, the Freight Forwarder is entitled to terminate the Contract without notice.


16.1 Offers made by the forwarder and agreements with them regarding prices and services always refer to their own named services or services from third parties alone and only to goods of normal size, weight and nature; they presuppose normal, unchanged transport conditions, unobstructed connecting routes, the possibility of immediate shipment and continuation of the existing freight rates, exchange rates and tariffs on which the agreement was based, unless the changes could have been foreseen under the circumstances. A note such as "Plus standard ancillary charges" additionally entitles the forwarder to charge special charges and expenses.

16.2 All offers made by the Freight Forwarder are valid for immediate fulfillment of the order in question only if accepted without delay, unless otherwise stated in the offer, and only if reference is made to the offer when the order is placed.

16.3 If an order is canceled or withdrawn, the Freight Forwarder is entitled to make claims under Sec. 415 and Sec. 417 German Commercial Code (HGB).

16.4 If a cash on delivery or other collection order is subsequently withdrawn or if the amount is not received, the forwarder can nevertheless charge commission.

16.5 If the consignee refuses to accept a consignment shipped to them or if delivery is not possible for reasons beyond the Freight Forwarder's control, the Freight Forwarder is entitled to cartage for the return transport in the same amount as for the outward transport.


17.1 The Freight Forwarder is entitled to compensation for such expenses as they would reasonably deem necessary under the circumstances.

17.2 The order to receive incoming goods authorizes the forwarder, but does not oblige them to pay freight, cash on delivery, duties, taxes and other charges as well as expenses payable on the goods.

17.3 Upon request, the Principal shall immediately indemnify the Freight Forwarder against freight claims, average contributions, customs duties, taxes and other charges levied on the Freight Forwarder, in particular as the party entitled to dispose of or as the owner of third-party goods, if the Freight Forwarder is not responsible for them. The Freight Forwarder is entitled to undertake suitable measures for securing or releasing them themselves, according to their best judgment. Unless immediate action is necessary, the forwarder will solicit instructions.

17.4 The Principal is required to draw the Freight Forwarder's attention in due time and in a manner customary in business, to all obligations under public law, e.g. customs law or towards third parties, e.g. trademark law, which are connected with the possession of the goods, unless it can be assumed, on the basis of the Freight Forwarder's offer, that they are aware of such obligations.


18.1 Invoices raised by the Freight Forwarder are to be paid immediately.

18.2 The Freight Forwarder is entitled to demand payment from foreign principals or consignees in their national currency or in German currency at their discretion.

18.3 If the Freight Forwarder owes or pays out foreign currency, they are entitled to demand payment either in that foreign currency or in German currency. If they demand German currency, conversion will take place at the rate officially fixed on the day of payment, unless it can be proven that payment took place/has taken place at a different rate.


With regard to claims arising from the transport contract and related non-contractual claims, offsetting or retention is only permissible against due counterclaims that are not opposed by an objection.


20.1 The Freight Forwarder has a right of lien and retention on the goods or other valuables in his power of disposal in respect of all claims, due and not due, to which he is entitled from the Principal arising from the activities mentioned in Sec. 2.1. The right of lien and retention does not exceed the statutory right of lien and retention.

20.2 The Freight Forwarder may only exercise a right of lien or retention based on claims arising from other transport contracts concluded with the Principal if they are undisputed or if the debtor's financial situation jeopardizes the Freight Forwarder's claim.

20.3 The period of one month specified in Sec. 1234 German Civil Code (BGB) is replaced by a period of two weeks.

20.4 If the Principal is in default, the Freight Forwarder can, after having issued a notification to sell, freely sell such a quantity of the goods and values in his possession as is necessary, according to their best discretion, to satisfy the contract.

20.5 For the lien or self-help sale, the Freight Forwarder can in all cases charge a sales commission from the net proceeds at the customary local rates.


21.1 The Freight Forwarder arranges for insurance of the goods (e.g., transport or storage insurance) with an insurer of their choice, if the Principal instructs them to do so prior to handing over the goods. If the forwarder is unable to provide insurance cover due to the nature of the goods to be insured or for any other reason, the forwarder is to inform the Principal thereof without delay.

21.2 The Freight Forwarder is entitled, but not obliged, to arrange insurance of the goods, if this is in the interest of the Principal. The Freight Forwarder can assume that the provision of insurance is in the interest of the Principal, in particular if – the Freight Forwarder has provided insurance in a previous transport contract, – the Principal has specified a value for the goods in the order (Sec. 3.4). The presumption of interest in obtaining insurance does not apply, in particular, if - the Principal prohibits obtaining insurance in writing, - the Principal is a Freight Forwarder, carrier or warehouse keeper.

of insurance and to take out such insurance at market conditions, unless the Principal instructs the Freight Forwarder otherwise in writing, stating the sum to be insured and the risks to be covered.

21.4 If the Freight Forwarder is the policy holder and has acted on behalf of the Principal, the Freight Forwarder is obliged to submit an invoice upon request in accordance with Sec. 14.1. In this case, the Freight Forwarder is to collect and document the premium for each individual transport contract on an order-by-order basis and pay the full amount to the insurer solely for this insurance coverage.

21.5 The Freight Forwarder is entitled to a special remuneration in addition to reimbursement of expenses for the arranging insurance, collecting indemnity and other activities in connection with settling insurance claims and averages.


22.1 The Freight Forwarder is liable for all of their activities (Sec. 2.1) in accordance with the statutory provisions. However, the following provisions also apply, unless mandatory or legal provisions stipulated in the General Terms and Conditions state otherwise.

22.2 If the Freight Forwarder only owes the conclusion of the contracts necessary for the performance of the contractual services, they are only liable for the diligent selection of the third parties they engage.

22.3 In all cases where the Freight Forwarder is liable for loss or damage to the goods, they are obliged to pay compensation for value and costs in accordance with Sec. 429, 430 German Commercial Code (HGB).

22.4 Insofar as Sec. 425 seq. and 461 (1) German Commercial Code (HGB) do not apply, the Freight Forwarder is liable for damage arising from

22.4.1 – The Principal or third parties insufficiently packing or marking the goods;

22.4.2 – Agreed or customary outdoor storage;

22.4.3 – Serious theft or robbery (Sec. 243, 244, 249 German Federal Criminal Code (StGB);

22.4.4 – Force majeure, effects of the weather, damage to equipment or lines, effects caused by other goods, damage caused by animals, natural changes to the goods only to the extent that it can be proven that they culpably caused the damage. If damage could arise from one of the circumstances listed above, it is assumed that it has arisen from this.

22.5 If the Freight Forwarder has claims against a third party for damage for which he is not liable or if the Freight Forwarder has claims for compensation against a third party exceeding their own liability, they shall assign such claims to the Principal at the latter's request, unless the Freight Forwarder, by special agreement, takes over prosecution of the claims for the account and at the risk of the Principal. The Principal can also request that the Freight Forwarder assigns to them all claims against the third party on account of performance. Sec. 437 Germany Commercial Code (HGB) remains unaffected. If the claims of the Principal have been satisfied by the Freight Forwarder or from the Freight Forwarder's insurance, the claim for assignment only extends to that part of the claim against the third party which exceeds the performance of the Freight Forwarder or the insurance.


23.1 The liability of the Freight Forwarder for loss of or damage to the goods (damage to goods), with the exception of warehousing on instruction, is limited to the following amounts

23.1.1 To €5 for each kilogram of gross weight for the shipment;

23.1.2 In the event of damage occurring to the goods during carriage using a means of transport, notwithstanding Sec. 23.1.1 to the statutory maximum liability amount for this carriage;

23.1.3 In the case of a transport contract for carriage using various means of transport, including maritime carriage, notwithstanding Sec. 23.1.1. to 2 SDRs for every kilogram.

23.1.4 Up to a maximum of €1 million or 2 SDRs per kilogram in each claim, whichever is greater.

23.2 If only individual packages or parts of the shipment have been lost or damaged, the maximum liability amount is calculated according to the gross weight of – the entire shipment, if the entire shipment has been canceled, – the canceled part of the shipment, if only part of the shipment has been canceled.

23.3 The Freight Forwarder's liability for damage other than damage to goods, with the exception of personal injury and property damage to third party goods, is limited to three times the amount that would be payable in the event of loss of the goods, up to a maximum of €100,000 per claim. Sec. 431 (3), 433 German Commercial Code (HGB) remain unaffected.

23.4 The liability of the Freight Forwarder, regardless of the number of claims arising from of an incident, is in any event limited to €2 million per incident or 2 SDRs for each kilogram of goods lost and damaged, whichever is greater. if there are several injured parties, the Freight Forwarder is liable in proportion to their claims.

23.5 Section 431 (4) HGB applies to calculating the SDR.


24.1 The liability of the Freight Forwarder for loss of or damage to the goods (damage to goods) is limited with warehousing on instruction

24.1.1 To €5 for each kilogram of gross weight for the shipment,

24.1.2 A maximum of €5,000 per claim; if the loss to a Principal is based on a difference between the target and actual inventory levels (Sec. 15.6), the liability amount is limited to €25,000, regardless of the number of loss events causing the inventory discrepancy. In both cases Sec. 24.1.1 remains unaffected.

24.2 Sec 23.2 applies mutatis mutandis.

24.3 The liability of the Freight Forwarder for damage other than to goods, with the exception of personal injury and property damage to third-party goods, is limited to €5,000 per claim in the case of warehousing on instruction.

24.4 The liability of the Freight Forwarder is in any case limited to €2 million per damage event, regardless of how many claims are made from one damage event; if there are several injured parties, the Freight Forwarder is liable in proportion to their claims.


25.1 In the event of damage, the Principal must prove that goods of a certain quantity and quality were handed over to the Freight Forwarder without any externally visible damage (Sec. 438 German Commercial Code [HGB]). The Freight Forwarder has to prove that they delivered the goods as they received them.

25.2 The burden of proof that damage to the goods occurred during carriage by means of transport (Sec. 23.1.2) lies with the Party claiming this. If the place where the damage occurred is unknown, the Freight Forwarder is obliged, at the request of the Principal or Consignee, to explain the course of the transport by means of interface documentation (Sec. 7). It is to be assumed that the damage occurred on the leg of the transport route for which the Freight Forwarder does not present an unconditional receipt.

25.3 The Freight Forwarder is obliged to obtain information and evidence to determine where the alleged damage occurred.


The liability exemptions and limitations stated above also apply to non-contractual claims in accordance with Sec. 434, 436 German Commercial Code (HGB).


The liability exemptions and limitations stated above do not apply if the damage was caused

27.1 By the intent or gross negligence of the Freight Forwarder or their managerial staff or by the breach of essential contractual duties, whereby claims for compensation in the latter case are limited to foreseeable, typical damage;

27.2 In cases of Sec. 425 seq., 461 (1) German Commercial Code (HGB) by the Freight Forwarder or the persons mentioned in Sec. 428, 462 German Commercial Code (HGB) intentionally or recklessly and with the knowledge that damage would probably occur.


Sec. 438 German Commercial Code (HGB) applies to the notice of claim.


29.1 The Freight Forwarder is obliged to take out and uphold liability insurance with an insurer of their choice at standard market conditions, which covers their liability under the German Freight Forwarders' Standard Terms and Conditions (ADSP) and legislation to the extent of the standard liability sums.

29.2 The agreement of a maximum amount of compensation per claim, damage event and year is permissible; likewise, the agreement of a share in the damage to be borne by the Freight Forwarder.

29.3 The Freight Forwarder can only invoke the German Freight Forwarders' Standard Terms and Conditions (ADSP) vis-à-vis the Principal if the former has sufficient liability insurance coverage when placing the order.

29.4 At the request of the Principal, the Freight Forwarder is obliged to provide evidence of this liability insurance cover by way of confirmation by the insurer.


30.1 Place of performance for all Parties involved is the location of the Freight Forwarder's branch office to which the order is addressed.

30.2 Jurisdiction for all disputes arising out of or in connection with the contractual relationship is, for all parties involved, insofar as they are merchants, the place of the Freight Forwarder's branch office to which the order is addressed; for claims against the Freight Forwarder this jurisdiction is exclusive.

30.3 German law applies to the legal relationship between the Freight Forwarder and the Principal or their legal successors.