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Incoterms are created to illustrate the responsibilities of the buyer & seller in a particular international trade. It serves as a guideline to regulate movements from seller to buyer, they do not serve to regulate pricing, payment, quality or anything else related to the seller-buyer relationship.


The seller only needs to have the goods ready for pickup. It is the buyer’s job to load them onto the vehicle and take care of the rest of the transport. Once the goods are out of the seller’s premises, they are no longer their concern.

In the case of export, the seller will deliver the goods to the port (for sea transport) or the cargo terminal (in case of air freight), and do the export clearance. From there it is the buyer’s job to take care of international transport and import into the destination country.

If it is domestic transport the seller only needs to load the goods on the buyer’s vehicle. The buyer needs to organize transport.  

The seller should clear the export documentation and deliver the goods to the port, ready to be loaded onto the ship. From there the buyer takes over. The buyer will hire the shipment, arrange to load and import the goods. This term is used mostly for non-containerized shipments, like sand, oil etc.

Here the seller must assure the goods are loaded onto the ship nominated by the buyer. So, besides the export clearance, he still bears the risk of damage while the goods are in the port. Once the goods are safely stored on the ship, the buyer is the one responsible for all risk.

Here the seller takes care of sea transport. Once the ship reaches the final destination, it becomes the responsibility of the buyer. The buyer needs to arrange to unload at the port, pay customs fees and arrange documents and transport to the final destination.

CIF is quite similar to CFR. The main difference is that the seller must arrange insurance for the goods to cover all risks until the final port of destination.

Here it is the seller who arranges transport. The seller as well takes care of the paperwork needed for export. The risk of loss, theft or damage is with the buyer during the transportation. While in domestic transport this may not be an issue, it is not the best choice for shipping.  

The significant difference between CPT and CIP is that the seller now bears also insurance costs for the cargo until the final destination of the goods.

Here the seller is responsible as well for the unloading of the goods at the place specified by the buyer. The one thing the buyer needs to do is to pay for the customs fees and taxes. The logistics of the goods movement is completely run by the seller.

If this Incoterm is agreed upon, the responsibilities of the buyer are to pay for the customs clearance and duties in the country of import. Furthermore, he needs to arrange to unload goods at the point of destination. Everything else is done by the seller.

The seller takes care of everything. Import / export documentation and fees, duty / tax, transportation. The buyer has no obligations whatsoever until the goods are on his premises.

These are only the basic details. Please do not make any decisions before going into details about the offered incoterm. Incoterms are binding for both parties in the trade. So, if you make a wrong decision, it may cost you dearly.

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