Hamburg Rules

The Hamburg Rules are a set of rules governing the international shipment of goods, resulting from the United Nations International Convention on the Carriage of Goods by Sea adopted in Hamburg on 31 March 1978.[1] The Convention was an attempt to form a uniform legal base for the transportation of goods on oceangoing ships. A driving force behind the convention was the attempt by developing countries' to provide all participants a fair and equal chance of succeeding. It came into force on 1 November 1992.[2]

Hamburg Rules
United Nations Convention on the Carriage of Goods by Sea
Signed31 March 1978
LocationHamburg and New York
Effective1 November 1992
ConditionRatification by 20 states
DepositaryUN Secretary-General
LanguagesArabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish


The first of the international conventions on the carriage of goods by sea was the Hague Rules of 1924. In 1968, the Hague Rules were updated to become the Hague-Visby Rules, but the changes were modest. The convention still covered only "tackle to tackle" carriage contracts, with no provision for multimodal transport. The industry-changing phenomenon of containerization was barely acknowledged.[3][4] The 1978 Hamburg Rules were introduced to provide a framework that was both more modern, and less biased in favour of ship-operators. Although the Hamburg Rules were readily adopted by developing countries, they were shunned by richer countries who stuck with Hague and Hague-Visby. It had been expected that a Hague/Hamburg compromise might arise, but instead the more extensive Rotterdam Rules appeared.

Relation with other conventionsEdit

Article 31 of the Hamburg Convention[5] covers its entry into force, coupled to denunciation of other Rules. Within five years after entry into force of the Hamburg Rules, ratifying states must denounce earlier conventions, specifically the Hague and Hague-Visby Rules.

A long-standing aim has been to have a uniform set of rules to govern carriage of goods, but there are now five different sets: Hague, Hague-Visby, Hague-Visby/SDR, Hamburg and Rotterdam. (The Rotterdam Rules are not yet in force).[6][7]


As of March 2021, the convention had been ratified by 35 countries:

Country Comments
  Burkina Faso
  Czech Republic
  Dominican Republic
  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  Sierra Leone


  1. ^ "United Nations Convention on the Carriage of Goods by Sea (The Hamburg Rules) Hamburg, 30 March 1978". 30 March 1978.
  2. ^ UNCITRAL Homepage
  3. ^ Hague-Visby Rules: Article IV Rule 5c
  4. ^ "The Hague-Visby Rules - the Hague Rules as Amended by the Brussels Protocol 1968". 1968.
  5. ^ Hamburg Rules
  6. ^ Maritime Law - 2014 - ed. Yvonne Batz
  7. ^ Maritime Law Evolving - 2013 - ed. Malcolm Clarke

External linksEdit