These go by various names, but a widely used version is the FIATA Certificate of Receipt (FCR), issued under the aegis of FIATA and its member associations in different countries (BIFA, CIFFA, TIA etc.)
The FIATA FCR has a standard set of terms and conditions, which will be referred to here. However other freight forwarders receipts may differ in important respects.
A major use of the FCR is to support trade finance and the use of letters of credit.
However the FCR is not a transport document as defined by UCP 600 (ICC code of practice for letters of credit).
Unlike a bill of lading, the FCR is not a document of title to the goods under any legal system – a major defect in the event of disputes
So it is not needed in order to claim the goods from a carrier.
The FIATA FCR
The freight forwarder can only vary the instructions in the FCR if they are able to do so (e.g. the goods have not already been dispatched) and if the original FCR has been surrendered by the holder.
An important use is for letter of credit transactions where the buyer is responsible for main transport – e.g. FCA. The letter of credit will call for this instead of a transport document such as bill of lading.
The FCR and similar documents have an indifferent reputation with buyers due to a high incidence of fraud – indeed FIATA have taken the extreme step of banning their documents for use in steel shipments!
Other risks for the buyer: