Warsaw Convention

1929 treaty governing commercial aviation liability

distinguish the Warsaw Pact, which was a defence treaty between Eastern European nations

The Warsaw Convention is an international convention which regulates liability for international carriage of persons, luggage or goods performed by aircraft for reward.

It was signed in 1929 in Warsaw, it was amended in 1955 at The Hague and in 1975 in Montreal.[1]

In particular, the Warsaw Convention has the following rules:

  • carriers issue passenger tickets;
  • carriers issue baggage checks for checked luggage;
  • there is a limitation period of 2 years within which a claim must be brought (Article 29); and
  • a carrier's liability is at least:
    • 250,000 Francs or 16,600 Special Drawing Rights (SDR) for personal injury;
    • 17 SDR per kilogram for checked luggage and cargo,
    • 5,000 Francs or 332 SDR for the hand luggage of a traveller.[2]

On April 1, 2007, the exchange rate was 1.00 SDR = 1.135 EUR or 1.00 SDR = 1.51 USD.

The Montreal Convention, signed in 1999, will replace the Warsaw Convention system, once Montreal has been ratified by all states.


  1. United States courts have said that, at least for some purposes, the Warsaw Convention is a different instrument from the Warsaw Convention as Amended by the Hague Protocol.
  2. The sums limiting liability were originally given in Francs (defined in terms of a particular quantity of gold by article 22 paragraph 5 of the convention). These sums were amended by the Montreal Additional Protocol No. 2 to substitute an expression given in terms of SDR's. These sums are valid in the absence of a differing agreement (on a higher sum) with the carrier. Agreements on lower sums are null and void.

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