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What are Incoterms 2020?

what are incoterms

The Incoterms 2020 are globally accepted standards for negotiating and fulfilling delivery contracts. Studying them carefully will repay the time by enabling buyers and sellers to establish more favourable trade terms. They provide direction to consumers and suppliers in creating and implementing delivery agreements. Functioning trade financing for manufacturers and consumers is one of the benefits of using them. Trade Finance assists importers and exporters with international business transactions.

The International Chamber of Commerce first released Incoterms (International Commercial Terms) in 1936. Incoterms 2020 is the first revision since 2010 to keep pace with the ever-changing global commercial environment.

On January 1, 2020, the latest set of Incoterms regulations came into effect, comprising eleven separate definitions. Some of the revisions are worth mentioning in particular.

The delivery point in the transaction where ‘the risk of loss or damage to the goods passes from the seller to the buyer’ is now formally defined by Incoterms 2020. Previously, the term had a more informal definition.

Import rules are applicable to sellers, and export rules are applicable to buyers. Incoterms 2020 rules also state that the seller is responsible for all costs and expenses associated with the import. These rules also state that the buyer is responsible for all costs and expenses associated with the export.

What are the most important changes on Incoterms 2020?

The most noteworthy modification concerns the expression FCA (Free Carrier). It now enables the supplier to issue a Bill of Lading with an on-board notation to the purchaser. This meets the terms and conditions of a Letter of Credit. Many exporters preferred FOB (Free on Board) as a method for arranging payment with a Letter of Credit. FCA, on the other hand, was more suitable for containerised shipments. This was due to the additional delivery cost differences between FCA and FOB.

DAT was introduced as a separate new term for the delivery option where the goods are unloaded at a terminal. The main reason for this change is to avoid confusion among customers who were using the word ‘Terminal’ to refer to the port where their goods were delivered at. Confusion was created due to the fact that the word ‘Terminal’ was also being used to refer to the last delivery point (i.e. the warehouse where the goods are finally delivered).

The buyer pays for the insurance and receives a bill of lading from the carrier. The cargo is transported from the seller’s location to the buyer’s location. This form of transport is used for high-value items, such as electronics. With CIP, the buyer is responsible for all transportation costs. This type of contract is often used when the seller cannot get adequate insurance.

Commodity shipments are covered by the CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight) arrangement. The Institute Cargo Clause C sets forth the standard insurance coverage (unmodified).

To make the process smoother, FCA and DAP now let you specify where the goods are delivered, allowing you to choose between the buyer or seller’s premises. This helps you to save on costs and time, as you don’t have to arrange transportation. With DDP, you’re responsible for arranging your own transportation but don’t have to pay any duties or taxes upfront, which allows you to budget more accurately.

The 2010 Incoterms have clarified cost allocation to avoid confusion. Cost allocation between the buyer and seller was often a big issue in the 2010 Incoterms. Carriers could change their pricing structure by adding backcharges, resulting in additional terminal handling expenses for sellers.

What are ON Incoterms 2020?

Incoterms 2020 Point of Delivery and Transfer of Risk

Incoterms have been split into two categories in the updated definitions. At different phases of transportation, Incoterms specify the responsibilities of each party. Similarly, certain Incoterms are better suited to certain types of transportation than others. Each of the eleven Incoterms relates to a specific method of transit.

It’s crucial to understand where risk is transferred from a trade finance perspective in order to determine how much of an invoice can be financed using a financial service platform for international trade.

Incoterms are often chosen by trade finance providers because they have distinct advantages. In fact, the longer the product remains on the seller’s account, the more of the invoice can be financed by the financial institution. Invoice discounting and receivables financing are usually accomplished using Incoterms FOB and FCA. Incoterms DAP and DDP are used most frequently in e-commerce finance.


  • Incoterms are rules for buyers and sellers to follow when formulating a contract for the shipment of goods.
  • The risk transfer point is now stated formally
  • What’s new in Incoterms 2020? The most significant change relates to the term FCA (Free Carrier)
  • The most obvious changes? It is the introduction of DPU (Delivered at Place Unloaded) to replace DAT (Delivered at Terminal)
  • The updated definitions are divided into two separate groups: each of the eleven Incoterms is based on a mode of transport

Incoterms for any mode of transport

EXW – Ex Works

The EXW term denotes that the seller must provide the items at his premises. Alternatively, the parties may agree on a different venue such as a factory, office, or warehouse. Upon collecting the items, the buyer acquires ownership. After that, he assumes all expenses and risks.

On the other hand, the EXW formula is most favourable to the buyer. The buyer is not obliged to cover the freight costs after the goods leave the premises. This term can cause difficulties for buyers if the products are for export.

FCA – Free Carrier

The seller is responsible for delivering the goods to the buyer’s designated location using FCA shipping. He must load the stock onto the buyer’s transportation. Then, the seller handles the delivery, including clearance for export and security requirements.

Once the products are loaded onto the buyer’s transportation, the risk is transferred to the buyer. Therefore, any damage to the products while on board the vessel is the buyer’s responsibility.

The buyer pays for the freight, bill of lading fees, and insurance. Furthermore, he pays for unloading and transportation to the final destination.

More than any other Incoterms 2020 term, FCA has been significantly altered. In the past, the use of a third-party logistics provider meant that the seller was unable to obtain a bill of lading with on-board notation. Because the international shipper didn’t accept the goods directly from him, the seller had to use a transport intermediary. Without a bill of lading, the bank would not allow payment to the seller. As a consequence of the changes in Incoterms 2020, FCA now resolves this issue. When the buyer directs the carrier to issue a bill of lading with on-board notation, the parties must specify this on the sale contract.

FOB – Free on board

The seller is responsible for delivering the goods to the designated port of loading and ensuring the goods are loaded. Depending on the mode of shipment such as LCL, FCL, RoRo or Airfreight must also comply with the necessary mode requirements for international travel and assist with meeting any destination requirements such as cleanliness, packing or labelling requirements. This may mean the seller needs to secure the goods in a crate for LCL or Airfreight, Loading and Lashing the goods into a full container or ensuring the goods for RoRo are clean and in suitable mechanical condition.

The seller is responsible for all costs and risks up until the point where the goods are loaded onto the vessel or aircraft. The buyer is responsible for freight costs, insurance and all destination charges. The buyer pays for the freight, bill of lading fees, and insurance. Furthermore, he pays for unloading and transportation to the final destination.

Free on Board is one of the most common incoterms used international trade, and it should be combined with a place on contracts between buyer and seller, eg “FOB Shanghai, Incoterms 2020”. This means the supplier is responsible for all costs up to and including loading the goods onto a vessel/plane in Shanghai.

CPT – Carriage Paid To

The CPT certification goes beyond FCA by specifying that the seller bears the expense of transporting the goods to the buyer’s location. The seller clears the goods for export and delivers them to the carrier or destination location as requested by the buyer.

The seller is responsible for paying for the shipment, but he is not responsible for obtaining insurance. The risk is transferred to the buyer at the designated location of delivery.

The main difference between these two terms is that CIP insurance is purchased by the buyer, not the seller. Therefore, if the buyer requires CIP insurance, it is purchasing the insurance and will be responsible for any claims.

CIP – Carriage and Insurance Paid To

CIP covers the same range of goods as CPT, but the seller must insure the items in transit and pay for the shipment itself.

The seller delivers the items to the destination as instructed by the buyer, or to the carrier, and clears them for export. The seller is responsible for transporting the items to the designated destination.

The risk is transferred to the buyer at the predetermined point of delivery.

Under Incoterms 2020, CIP has introduced a higher insurance requirement on the seller. This level of protection is suitable for containerised items, which are protected by Institute Cargo Clauses (A) of the Institute of London Underwriters, which requires the seller to purchase 110% of the contract value. Institute Cargo Clauses (C) previously provided the minimum insurance coverage.

DPU – Delivered at Place Unloaded

Previously known as Delivered at Terminal (DAT), this term has been renamed because the buyer (or seller) may want to specify the delivery location rather than the terminal. This term is often used for consolidated containers with multiple consignees. Unloading the goods is the only task the seller is responsible for.

This term has been renamed because the buyer (or seller) may want to specify the delivery location rather than the terminal. This term is often used for consolidated containers with multiple consignees. It is the only term that tasks the seller with unloading the goods.

After the goods are unloaded, the buyer is responsible for all costs and risks. Import duties, taxes, and customs clearance are included. The buyer also pays for local transportation to the final designated location.

The seller should consider using DAP terms rather than organising unloading if he is unable to do so.

DAP – Delivered At Place

The seller delivers the goods to a specified destination, but he is not responsible for unloading. He is responsible for packing, clearing the goods for export, bearing the carriage costs, and paying any terminal charges up to the designated destination port.

When DAP is selected, the buyer is responsible for all unloading expenses, duties, and taxes as well as clearing customs to import the product into the specified country.

The buyer becomes liable for the product at the final destination.

DDP – Delivered Duty Paid

The seller bears all the risks and costs involved in delivering the goods to the specified location when DDP is selected.

The seller is liable for clearing the goods through customs in the buyer’s country. He must pay both tariffs and taxes, as well as obtain the necessary authorizations and registrations from the authorities. However, the seller is not responsible for unloading the cargo.

The buyer bears no risk or responsibility until the goods are at the final agreed place. The seller is bound by the maximum obligations, and the buyer is bound by the minimum ones.

If the seller does not have a profound comprehension of the regulations and procedures in the buyer’s nation, DDP terms can be a substantial danger in terms of delays and additional expenditures. Thus, DDP should be used cautiously.

What rules apply for sea and inland waterway transport?

The rules listed below are for the transportation of goods entirely by sea or inland waterway.

Non-containerised items, such as commodities, must be verified at this point when the goods are on board (apart from FAS). Because the risk and responsibility are transferred at this point (unless FAS is involved), these terms are not suitable for containerised goods.

Note: as specified in previous versions of Incoterms, the risk is transferred from seller to buyer when the goods crossed the ship’s rail.

FAS – Free Alongside Ship

All expenses and risks of losing or damaging the goods are borne by the buyer from the moment the goods are delivered alongside the buyer’s vessel at the named port of shipment.

The buyer used to bear the responsibility for arranging export clearance (under previous Incoterms, the FAS term requires the seller to clear the goods for export).

The seller bears the costs and risks associated with shipping the goods until they are loaded on the designated vessel under FOB terms.

The seller is responsible for arranging export clearance, and the buyer pays the ocean freight, bill of lading fees, and insurance fees. Unloading and local transportation from the port of arrival to the final destination, however, are the buyer’s responsibilities.

The buyer is responsible for any damage to the goods while they are on board the vessel.

Since Incoterm FCA was formulated in 1980, FOB should only be used to describe non-containerised sea and inland waterway transportation.

Despite being the most commonly used – and incorrectly so – term, FOB continues to be the most commonly used term for all modes of transportation. Contractual risks that may result (including difficulty checking goods if they are sealed in a container) are not mitigated.

CFR – Cost and Freight

It is the seller who pays for the transportation of the goods to the specified port of destination that bears the greater risk and responsibility.

It is the seller who pays for the transportation of the goods to the specified port of destination that bears the greater risk and responsibility.

The shipper is responsible for any damage to the goods on board the ship until the port of final destination, as well as for export clearance and shipping costs.

The buyer pays for delivery from the port to the final destination and is responsible for purchasing insurance. If the buyer chooses the Incoterm CIF, the parties should consider whether the seller should be required to obtain insurance.

It should only be used for non-containerised sea freight and inland waterway transportation for CFRs. For all other types of transportation – and for containerised goods – Incoterms 2020 has specified a critical change in CPTs.

CIF – Cost, Insurance & Freight

The seller pays the freight and insurance costs and delivers the goods when they are on board at the port of shipment. The goods are cleared for export and delivered when they are on board at the port of shipment. In addition, the seller is responsible for any damage to the goods on board the ship.

It is required that the seller purchase the minimum level of insurance under Clause C of the Institute Cargo Clauses. (Incorporating Incoterms 2010 unchanged requirements.)

The seller must turn over three key documents—an invoice, an insurance policy, and a bill of lading—at the port of arrival. Those documents represent the cost, insurance, and freight of CIF.

Seller’s Risk is similar to CFR, except that the seller must obtain insurance while the goods are in transit.

Note: While Incoterms help to reduce the risks involved in the delivery of goods between seller and buyer, they only form part of the whole export contract. Price, method of payment, transfer of ownership, breach of contract and product liability are all issues that need to be addressed in the contract of sale. Also, Incoterms cannot override any mandatory laws.

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