What are Incoterms?

Incoterms, short for International Commercial Terms, are a set of standardized trade terms used internationally to define the responsibilities of buyers and sellers in international transactions. Updated every 10 years by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the latest version being Incoterms 2020.

Why are Incoterms Important?

Incoterms provide clarity and uniformity in international trade contracts by defining the obligations, risks, and costs associated with the delivery of goods. They help avoid misunderstandings and disputes by clearly specifying each party’s responsibilities at different stages of the transportation process.

Types of Incoterms

Category E (Departure)
  • EXW (Ex Works): Ideal when the buyer has control over logistics and wants to minimize seller involvement.
  • Category F (Main Carriage Unpaid)
    • FCA (Free Carrier): Suitable for containerized goods. Buyer takes over once goods are handed to the carrier.
    • FAS (Free Alongside Ship): Commonly used for bulk goods. Risk transfers when goods are placed alongside the vessel.
    • FOB (Free On Board): Seller’s responsibility until goods are loaded onto the ship.
    Category C (Main Carriage Paid)
    • CFR (Cost and Freight): Seller covers cost up to the port of destination.
    • CIF (Cost, Insurance and Freight): Similar to CFR, but includes insurance.
    • CPT (Carriage Paid To): Suitable when the seller can efficiently arrange transportation. Risk transfers upon delivery.
    • CIP (Carriage and Insurance Paid To): For valuable goods. Buyer receives goods at the agreed destination with insurance.
    Category D (Arrival)
    • DPU (Delivered at Place Unloaded): Seller arranges shipment and unloads goods.
    • DAP (Delivered at Place): Suitable when the buyer wants goods delivered to a specific location.
    • DDP (Delivered Duty Paid): Seller handles everything, including customs duties.

    How to Choose the Right Incoterm

    1. EXW: When the buyer wants control over logistics.
    2. FCA, FAS, FOB: Suitable for initial stages, where the buyer arranges the main carriage.
    3. CFR, CIF, CPT, CIP: Best when the seller handles the main carriage.
    4. DPU, DAP, DDP: Ideal when the seller takes full responsibility, including delivery at the destination.

    Best Tips for Using Incoterms

    Evaluate Your Goods

    Understand the nature of your goods. Are they fragile, perishable, high-value, or temperature-sensitive?

    Know Your Freight Mode

    Understand which mode of transportation each incoterm covers to avoid unnecessary costs and complications.

    Ensure Compliance

    Familiarize yourself with import/export restrictions, licenses, and taxes.


    Clearly define your chosen incoterm in contracts and keep all relevant paperwork organized to avoid misunderstandings or legal issues.

    Order transportation

    Navigating the complexities of international shipping can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone. Our team of experienced logistics professionals is ready to assist you with selecting the right Incoterms and ensuring smooth and efficient transportation of your goods. Contact us today for personalized advice and comprehensive support in all aspects of international logistics.



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