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What are the Incoterms?

Posted on 10-04-2022 by Sergio Sanchez

Reading Time: 15 minutes

Knowing the rights and obligations of the buyer, seller, and transport firm is crucial when moving items so that everyone involved is aware of the situation and there are no unpleasant surprises. Here’s an explanation:

  • Defining incoterms
  • What obligations and rights they more clearly define, and how to choose the right term.

What are Incoterms?

Simply put, Incoterms® are the conditions of sale that the buyer and seller of goods agree to while conducting business internationally. Governments and legal bodies all across the world have endorsed these rules. Understanding Incoterms® is essential for international trade since they make it obvious which responsibilities, expenses, and risks belong to the buyer and the seller.

The Incoterm® specifies when the buyer assumes the seller’s costs and risks. It’s also crucial to realize that not every rule will always be applicable. Some include any means of transportation. FCA, CPT, CIP, DAP, DPU (replaces DAT), and DDP are all covered by transportation by all modes of transportation (road, rail, air, and sea). Transport via sea and inland waterways (Sea) includes FAS, FOB, CFR, and CIF.

Delivery terms, also known as Incoterms, are a collection of uniform regulations that specify the rights and responsibilities of the parties to a contract for the purchase or sale of goods. The International Chamber of Commerce created a set of trade regulations to help standardize purchase and sale transactions by addressing delivery costs, risks, and responsibilities. The EXW, FCA, FAS, FOB, CFR, CIF, CPT, CIP, DPU, DAP, and DDP rules are among the 11 rules that determine who is liable for what in international transactions. Only one of these rules will be put into practice for each unique contract. Delivery conditions are well-known and accepted worldwide. They are mandatory on every invoice and reduce the possibility of costly misunderstandings.

In general, banks, governments, international trading companies, and other regulated agencies recognise these kinds of Incoterms 2022. It eventually developed into a standard practice for global trade. The obligations (risk of consignment/goods, charges/costs, and tasks associated with Consignee and consigner, also known as seller and buyer in Incoterms 2022) are clearly defined in accordance with these guidelines.

Different modes of transportation exist (sea transport, Air Transport, Road transportation, or may be by train). These incoterms regulations may be altered in accordance with these different modes of transportation. Understanding incoterms is crucial since they might alter depending on the kind of transportation used as well as a variety of other circumstances.

Depending on the risk, obligations, tasks, and duties of each of the following four components, incoterms can be used to identify them:

a) Delivery Location. Carefully identify the items that will be delivered from the vendor to the buyer and the delivery location.

b) The price of transportation. The freight charges can be identified and freight prepaid and add, freight collect, and freight allow, which is very important to pay the charges without confusion.

c) Export-import specifications. This needs to be noted since each task’s obligations need to be specified in detail in the incoterms, and this is the place to do that.

d) Protection. Since this is the portion of the shipment with the biggest risk, it is crucial in international trade to identify the entity responsible for insurance. Therefore, it is made explicit in the incoterms who is in charge of making insurance arrangements.

Delivery clauses are divided into two:

  • EXW, FCA, DPU, DAP, CPT, CIP, DDP are used for all modes of transport (sea, road, rail and air);
  • FAS, FOB, CFR, CIF are used for maritime transport only.


Incoterms 2022 Summary

To make it easy for everyone to grasp, we have provided a brief explanation of incoterms 2022 in everyday English. Transfer of Risk from Buyer to Seller is clearly outlined in this Incoterms 2022 overview.

1) Ex Works (EXW)

Ex works (EXW) in these incoterms 2022 refers to a situation where a seller is in charge of product manufacturing and makes the goods available at a specific place in export-quality packaging. However, the buyer is responsible for arranging the transportation and paying for exporting, shipping, and importing the product to their desired location.

Once purchasers receive their goods, buyers are responsible for additional risks such as loading the items onto trucks, conveying by ocean, air, by train, or by road, and custom duty clearance, according the incoterms 2022.

2) FCA - Free Carrier

According to these Incoterms 2022, the seller of the products must deliver the goods at the seller’s premises or another designated location to the carrier, sea port, airport, terminal, warehouse, or another person indicated by the buyer.

The transportation costs are described in these Incoterms 2022 as the seller’s duty up until the items are picked up by the carrier.

As soon as the items are delivered to the carrier or designated location, the liability shifts to the buyer

3) FAS – Free Alongside

These Incoterms 2022 provide that the seller must make arrangements for the delivery of the products when they are positioned next to the designated by the buyer at the designated port of shipping. To prepare this for the waiting ship, purchased items were to be delivered next to a vessel in the port.

According to Incoterms 2022, the seller is in charge of the items’ packing, loading, customs clearance, terminal handlining, and export clearance.

In accordance with Incoterms 2022, the buyer is in charge of arranging insurance, unloading, sea transportation, and other requirements at the destination.

When the goods are next to the ship, the risk is shifted to the buyer.

4) FOB - Free on Board

According to Incoterms 2022, at the designated port of loading and in accordance with any applicable letter of credit, the Seller delivers items that have been cleared for export and loaded onto the vessel.

When the products have been loaded on board, the risk of damage and loss will be transferred to the buyer.

In line with incoterms 2022, loading will be added to the FAS to create FOB. Once the items are on board, the buyer is in control of all fees and charges.

Who will be responsible for paying the insurance under the FOB Incoterm? The buyer or the seller might negotiate the insurance. Typically, FOB incoterms require the buyer to provide their own insurance.

5) CFR - Cost and Freight /C&F

In accordance with the Incoterms 2022, the seller is in charge of delivering the items to the destination, but the seller is also responsible for the cost of transportation.

Who will pay the insurance costs for CFR/C&F? Buyers are responsible for paying insurance; however, if both buyers and sellers agree, this can be negotiated. In most cases, the buyer is responsible for the insurance under the CFR incoterm.

When consignment or goods are on board the vessel, risk of loss or damage is shifted from seller to buyer.

In international trade, C&F is the incoterm that is most frequently used.

6) CIF - Cost, Insurance, and Freight

According to Incoterms 2022, it is the seller’s responsibility to deliver the goods to a designated port of discharge.

According to Incoterms 2022, Seller is Responsible for Cost, Insurance and Freight Charges. Costs for export packing, loading, delivery to a designated port of loading, export clearance taxes, custom clearance for export purposes, loading fees, insurance costs, and freight fees were included in this.

Even if the insurance and freight costs are the seller’s obligation, the risk of damages and losses will be transferred to the customer at the moment of loading on board.

In accordance with what the Incoterms 2022 specify as CIF, it is the seller’s duty to secure an insurance policy with a minimum level of coverage. However, if a letter of credit is involved, the bank will only permit the insurance provided all necessary requirements are met. If so, the buyer is protected. However, if the buyer chooses to have additional insurance protection, they are free to arrange it at their own expense.

The incoterm CIF is most frequently used in international trading.

7) CPT - Carriage Paid To.

According to this Incoterm 2022, the seller is in charge of clearing the products, arranging for carriage, and delivering the items to the carrier or a different person of the seller’s choosing at an agreed-upon location, meaning the seller is in charge of terminal handling.

When the products are delivered to the carrier’s custody, the risk of loss and damage is shifted from the seller to the customer. Additionally, if many carriers are involved, risk will be transferred when the first carrier is notified of the identified cargo and receives the goods.

According to Incoterms 2022, the seller is responsible for paying the freight to transport the goods to the specified destination.

8) CIP – Carriage and Insurance Paid To

According to Incoterms 2022, CIP imposes on the seller the same obligations as CPT. However, the seller is entirely responsible for making arrangements for the insurance of the items during transit.

Seller is solely responsible for the items until they are handed over to the first carrier at the shipping location.

According to Incoterms 2022, risk passes from the seller to the buyer as soon as the products are delivered to the designated person or carrier. If there are multiple carriers involved, risk passes when the items are delivered to the first carrier at the named shipping.

Similar to CIF, it is the seller’s duty to secure an insurance coverage with a minimum level of protection. However, if a letter of credit is involved, the bank will only permit the insurance provided all necessary requirements are met. If so, the buyer is protected. However, if the buyer chooses to have additional insurance protection, they are free to arrange it at their own expense.

9) DAP - Delivered at Place.

This is also a commonly used incoterm, and it can be applied to any mode of transportation where there are multiple modes available.

According to Incoterms 2022, the seller must deliver the items to the specified place and make them available for unloading. Consequently, the buyer is liable for unloading.

When the items are ready for unloading at the agreed place or upon arrival, the risk of damages and losses is transferred.

Until the products are delivered to the specified place, the seller is liable for covering all costs. This includes delivery to a specified destination, export packing, loading in origin, export taxes, custom clearance, terminal handling, and other documentation fees for BL, COO, and other legalizations.

10)DPU - Delivered at Place / old DAT

The seller must deliver the products to the buyer’s doorstep in accordance with Incoterms 2022, and unloading is permitted at the designated site.

Except for import fees and charges, all other costs and risks associated with delivery of the products at the designated site are covered by the seller in a DDU.

According to Incoterms 2022, risk is transferred to the buyer in a DDU after the products are delivered to the designated place. According to Incoterms 2022, DAT has been superseded by DDU.

11) DDP - Delivered Duty Paid

According to Incoterms 2022, it is the seller’s responsibility to bring the goods or confinement to the designated location and make it accessible for unloading. The buyer is responsible for unloading.

According to Incoterms 2022, the seller is responsible for covering all of the costs and risks associated with transporting the goods to their final location, including loading, freight charges, import and export taxes, customs clearance fees, shipping costs, land delivery fees, documentation fees, and insurance costs.

The most common Incoterms 2022 is DDP. locally delivered.

On sales and purchase contracts, how to use Incoterms® 2020

The ‘effective’ date of January 1st, 2020 marked the implementation of the new Incoterms® 2020. What exactly does that mean for your company? Trading partners may choose to continue using Incoterms® 2010 if they so choose, which could happen when it is used to confirm intricate business agreements.

In sales and purchase contracts, all parties must explicitly state which Incoterms® version is being referenced to prevent confusion. Incoterms® will be incorporated into contracts at different periods by various trading partners. Each party shall countersign the Sales and Purchasing Contracts, also known as Proforma Invoices and Purchase Orders. Here is further information on counter-signing trade agreements.

You must make sure that the Incoterms® edition year is mentioned in any current contracts. If no year is specified, the following rules will apply:

  • Up to 31st December 2019 – Incoterms® 2010
  • From 1st January 2020 – Incoterms® 2020
  • If a different year is stated, for example Incoterms® 1990, then the respective terms will apply

The below is the structure that should be used on Sales Contracts:

Example Sales Contracts
[Incoterm® rule] [Named port/place/point] Incoterms® 2020


CIF Longbeach Incoterms® 2020

DPU 4300 Longbeach Blvd, Longbeach, United States Incoterms® 2020


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