; What are INCOTERMS??
As international trade transactions become larger and more complex, so do the possibilities of misunderstandings and costly litigation if contracts are not appropriately written. Incoterms? are international commercial terms prepared by the International Chamber of Commerce that since 1936 have helped in managing international trade.
Incoterms? allow exporters to set prices so that the cost and risk of international transportation will be clearly distributed among buyers and sellers. They also refer cover insurance liabilities (under the CIF and CIP terms) and customs formalities.
; What are INCOTERMS? for?
Incoterms? seek to create a set of international rules for interpreting the most common terms in international trade. They aim at preventing the uncertainty derived from differing interpretations of those words in different countries, or at least they can be greatly reduced.
Use of these terms in the sale and purchase agreement must be explicitly mentioned by including the "Incoterms? 2000" indication as, for instance, "FOB Rotterdam, Incoterms? 2000". Incoterms? determine the mutual responsibilities between buyer and seller in the contract and should not be mistaken for the distribution of responsibilities among sender, carrier, and receiver in the transportation contract.
Incoterms? tell the buyer what is included in the purchase price since the costs of transportation, insurance and customs are split between the buying and selling companies.
There are thirteen Incoterms?. They can be graphically represented as a ladder where each step increases the parties' responsibilities, from the end of the seller to the opposite end of the buyer. EXW, or ex works is the Incoterms? that carries the least responsibility for the selling company. It is generally used when the delivery takes place at the seller's factory or warehouse. At the opposite end, the DDP Incoterm? that stands for delivery/duty paid and entails the greatest responsibility for the seller who must deliver the goods at the buyer's shop.
; How to use INCOTERMS? in a contract
Reference to Incoterms? should be explicit. The usual mention of a price as "$100/ton FOB New York" without an explicit reference to "Incoterms? 2000" can be dangerous. The right to apply the Incoterms? to the contract may be lost if no explicit reference is included. Moreover, contracts are subject to country-specific legal definitions with surprising consequences. For instance, the US definition of FOB can differ substantially from the Incoterms? definition. Incoterms the example above, the right mention should read "$100/ton FOB New York Incoterms? 2000".
; Are INCOTERMS? laws?
Frequently the juridical nature of Incoterms? is misunderstood. Incoterms? fall in the field of contracting, not of law. They apply to contracts when it can
be shown that they reflect the parties' will. If they are not included in the sales contract, it may be impossible to invoke them in case of dispute and only the country's laws will be applicable.
However, there are exceptions. If trade practices, general sales and purchasing conditions, commercial traditions, or previous transactions show that there was a will to use Incoterms?, they will be enforced even if the explicit mention in the contract is absent. In some legal traditions, practice enjoys a great specific weight and Incoterms? may be considered as a conventional business practice. In these countries, civil courtrooms or arbitration tribunals may choose to adopt Incoterm? standards to solve a dispute even if the specific Incoterm? is not included in the contract.
; Why should companies know INCOTERMS? in detail?
Unfortunately, many businesspeople have only a very broad idea of the differences between Incoterms? like EXW, FOB, CIF or DDP. Consequently, they are ill prepared to face unforeseen events relating to risk transfer, loading and unloading, customs dispatches and insurance. For instance, a frequent cause for uncertainty in international transactions deals with identifying the party responsible for loading (or unloading) the goods. Knowing your Incoterms? lets you solve the issue.
; Do INCOTERMS? omit any important details?
Incoterms? do not include certain legal or transportation aspects of international transactions. Instead, they are a sort of contract shorthand language to state in simple terms:
1. The transportation cost paid by the seller.
2. The point where the loss risk is handed over by the seller to the
3. The party that will take care of customs formalities and who will pay
customs duties; and,
4. Under CIF and CIP conditions, the seller's obligation to hire
Other details should also be explicitly included in the contract. Incoterms? should not be expected to make up for an ambiguous contract. Oftentimes, it is advisable to include detailed instructions in the contract as to the method and exact location for delivery, loading and unloading expenses, insurance scope, and type of transport. Moreover, Incoterms? only describe the parties' obligations but do tell us when a certain course of action is prudent or advisable.
; Transfer of property
A key aspect excluded from Incoterms? refers to the transfer of property or property rights. In fact, no initiative is underway to reach an international legal standard on this matter. Moreover, this issue is not resolved either by the Vienna Convention on international transactions of goods.
Given that laws on property conveyance differ among countries, a contract may conveniently include some indication in this regard but only after determining what is allowed by applicable law. In many jurisdictions, sellers hold their domain and the property until the price of the purchased good is
paid in full, even for a long time. Usually, the seller's "reserved domain" is stipulated in a special article in the contract.
; THIRTEEN INCOTERMS? 2000
Incoterms? 2000 describe the responsibilities of seller and buyer in international trade. The full and authoritative definition of each trade term is published in Incoterms? 2000 , Publication 560, obtainable from national
committees throughout the world.
; EXW EX WORKS (... named place)
; FCA FREE CARRIER (... named place)
; FAS FREE ALONGSIDE SHIP (... named port of shipment)
; FOB FREE ON BOARD (... named port of shipment)
; CFR COST AND FREIGHT (... named port of destination)
; CIF COST, INSURANCE AND FREIGHT (... named port of
; CPT CARRIAGE PAID TO (... named place of destination)
; CIP CARRIAGE AND INSURANCE PAID TO (... named place of
; DAF DELIVERED AT FRONTIER (... named place)
; DES DELIVERED EX SHIP (... named port of destination)
; DEQ DELIVERED EX QUAY (... named port of destination)
; DDU DELIVERED DUTY UNPAID (... named place of destination)
; DDP DELIVERED DUTY PAID (... named place of destination)
EXW (Ex Works).
Establishes the seller's minimum commitment. The seller delivers the goods at the named place (factory, workshop, warehouse, etc.). The buyer pays all the costs and assumes the risks inherent to receiving the merchandise (including transportation and other expenses).
FCA (Free Carrier).
The seller delivers the dispatched goods for export at the named place. At this point, he transfers to the buyer all the risks for loss or damage. If the goods are delivered at the seller's facilities, he will be responsible for loading. If the delivery takes place elsewhere, the seller is not responsible for loading the goods. It should be mentioned that the site chosen for delivery determines the loading and unloading obligations of the parties. Valid for any mode of transportation.
FAS (Free Alongside Ship).
The seller delivers the goods and the invoice at the named port alongside the ship. The FAS term requires the seller to clear the goods through customs before exporting it. However, if the parties wish the seller to dispatch the goods for export, they must clearly say so in the sale and purchase contract. This term is used exclusively for sea and continental navigation transportation.
FOB (Free on Board).
The goods must be delivered by the seller on board the ship designated by
the buyer, at the agreed date or within the agreed deadlines, at the named shipping port and in the usual way at that port, as stipulated in the contract. The buyer must bear all the costs and risks from damage or loss after delivery at the point of delivery (port of origin). The seller pays the shipping costs and bears the risk for the goods' loss or damage until such time as when the goods have been placed on board at the named port of shipping.
C&F (Cost and Freight).
The seller pays the shipping and freight costs to the named port of destination. The seller must bear the risks for the goods' loss or damage until they are on board the ship at the port of shipping. The seller, other than freight, must pay all the expenses and costs resulting from loading and unloading the goods, and all paperwork needed for exporting.
CIF (Cost, Insurance and Freight).
The seller delivers the merchandise on board the ship at the port of shipping. The seller bears all the risks and damages until such time as when the goods have been placed on board at the port of shipping. The seller must hire at his own expense a freight insurance policy as agreed in the contract to empower the buyer or any other person who holds an insurable interest over the goods, to file directly a claim with the insurer, and hand over to the insurer the insurance policy or any other proof of insurance coverage.
CPT (Carriage Paid to).
The seller delivers the merchandise when effectively giving it to the carrier designated by him. He must also pay all the transportation costs to take the goods to the named destination. The buyer bears all the risks and any other costs incurred after the goods were delivered. The seller must bear all the risks or damages suffered by the goods until it is delivered.
CIP (Carriage and insurance paid to).
The seller delivers the goods when he makes it available to the carrier designated by him, but must bear all the transportation costs to the named point of destination. The buyer bears all the risks and any other such cost as may be incurred after the goods have been so delivered. Nonetheless, the CIP term also requires hiring insurance against all risks borne by the buyer to cover for the loss or damage that the goods may suffer during the carriage.
DES (Ex Ship Freight on Board).
Delivery is effected when the goods are made available to the buyer on board the ship, but not yet dispatched through customs for importation at the named port of destination. The seller must bear the full cost and risk of carrying the goods to the named port of destination before unloading at the named port of destination. If the parties wish the seller to bear the cost and risk of unloading the goods, the DEQ term must be used. The seller hands over the risk for damage or loss when the goods are delivered. The seller must deliver the goods on board at the named port of destination. The cost and risk of delivering the merchandise at the port of destination are borne by the seller. The cost of unloading and customs clearance is borne by the buyer.
DEQ (Ex Quay).
The seller delivers the goods when they are made available to the buyer on the quay (landing dock at the named port of destination). The cost and risk of delivering the goods, including unloading, are borne by the seller. DEQ can be of either of two types. DEQ duty paid and DEQ duty paid by seller. In the first type, taxes are paid by the seller, while in the second, the duties paid by the seller are reimbursed by the buyer. This term may only be used when -after having been carried by sea- the goods have to be transported along
continental waterways or using multimode means of transportation, and unloading takes place at the quay of the named port of destination.
DAF (Delivered at Frontier).
The seller delivers the goods when they are made available to the buyer on board the means of transportation -but not yet unloaded- at the named point and place along the frontier before reaching the border customs office of the neighboring country. The goods should have been customs-cleared for export but not for import. The term frontier may be used for any frontier, including that of the exporting country. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that the term frontier be qualified to determine exactly which frontier is meant. This is done by including the named point and place immediately after the DAF term. The seller bears all the risks for loss of or damage to the goods until the goods have been effectively delivered.
DDP (Delivered/Duty Paid).
The seller delivers the goods to the buyer after they are dispatched for importation but not yet unloaded from the means of transport used for carriage to the named destination. The seller shall bear all the risk and cost until the goods are delivered on the means of transportation at the named destination. The seller must bear the cost for all the paperwork, customs duties, taxes, and other charges required for importation into the destination country.
DDU (Delivered/Duty Unpaid).
The seller delivers the goods not cleared through customs before unloading from the means of transport at the named port of destination. The seller must bear all the cost and risk incurred in carrying the goods to the named place of destination and -when so required- all duties needed for importation into the country of destination (including the obligation and risk of customs paperwork, and payment of paperwork, customs duties, taxes and other charges). This "obligation" shall be borne by the buyer, together with all other cost and risk, if the goods are not dispatched in time for importation. However, if the parties desired the seller to clear the goods through customs and to bear the eventual cost and risk, as well as other cost required by the importation of the goods, that wish must be clearly established by including explicit mention to them in the sale and purchase contract.
DISTRIBUTION OF COSTS
Paid by seller V / Paid by buyer C
FOB, CFR and CIF may only be used when distribution costs and/or risks have been determined simultaneously with the crossing of the ship's board at the agreed port and ship.