Incoterms 2020 Guide

In September 2019 the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) released the latest revision of International Commercial Terms – Incoterms 2020, the ninth version since 1936.

What are Incoterms?

Incoterms rules are used to clearly communicate the obligations, risks and costs associated with an international shipment. All the rules should be used to clarify which party is responsible for which cost. They are not a contract of sale and should never be used as one.


Guide to Incoterms 2020

I have generated a free graphical guide to the latest Incoterms 2020 as a training aid. The ICC have many excellent visual aids but none as an A4 chart with a direct comparison for all the Incoterms. The guide shows the seller obligations, buyer obligations and risk transfer points.

Incoterms 2020 guide

Incoterms 2020 rules:

COST AND FREIGHT (CFR) means that the seller delivers the goods to the buyer on board the vessel or procures the goods already so delivered. The risk of loss of or damage to the goods transfers when the goods are on board the vessel, such that the seller is taken to have performed its obligation to deliver the goods whether or not the goods actually arrive at their destination in sound condition, in the stated quantity or, indeed, at all. In CFR, the seller owes no obligation to the buyer to purchase insurance cover: the buyer would be well advised therefore to purchase some cover for itself. 

COST INSURANCE AND FREIGHT (CIF) means that the seller delivers the goods to the buyer on board the vessel or procures the goods already so delivered. The risk of loss of or damage to the goods transfers when the goods are on board the vessel, such that the seller is taken to have performed its obligation to deliver the goods whether or not the goods actually arrive at their destination in sound condition, in the stated quantity or, indeed, at all 

CARRIAGE AND INSURANCE PAID TO (CIP) means that the seller delivers the goods – and transfers the risk – to the buyer by handing them over to the carrier contracted by the seller or by procuring the goods so delivered. The seller may do so by giving the carrier physical possession of the goods in the manner and at the place appropriate to the means of transport used. Once the goods have been delivered to the buyer in this way, the seller does not guarantee that the goods will reach the place of destination in sound condition, in the stated quantity or indeed at all. This is because risk transfers from seller to buyer when the goods are delivered to the buyer by handing them over to the carrier; the seller must nonetheless contract for the carriage of the goods from delivery to the agreed destination. 

CARRIAGE PAID TO (CPT) means that the seller delivers the goods – and transfers the risk – to the buyer by handing them over to the carrier contracted by the seller or by procuring the goods so delivered. The seller may do so by giving the carrier physical possession of the goods in the manner and at the place appropriate to the means of transport used. Once the goods have been delivered to the buyer in this way, the seller does not guarantee that the goods will reach the place of destination in sound condition, in the stated quantity or indeed at all. This is because risk transfers from seller to buyer when the goods are delivered to the buyer by handing them over to the carrier; the seller must nonetheless contract for the carriage of the goods from delivery to the agreed destination. 

DELIVERED AT PLACE (DAP) means that the seller delivers the goods – and transfers risk – to the buyer when the goods are placed at the disposal of the buyer on the arriving means of transport ready for unloading at the named place of destination or at the agreed point within that place, if any such point is agreed. The seller bears all risks involved in bringing the goods to the named place of destination or to the agreed point within that place. In this Incoterms rule, therefore, delivery and arrival at destination are the same.

DELIVERED DUTY PAID (DDP) means that the seller delivers the goods to the buyer when the goods are placed at the disposal of the buyer, cleared for import, on the arriving means of transport, ready for unloading, at the named place of destination or at the agreed point within that place, if any such point is agreed. The seller bears all risks involved in bringing the goods to the named place of destination or to the agreed point within that place. In this Incoterms rule, therefore, delivery and arrival at destination are the same.

DELIVERED AT PLACE UNLOADED (DPU) means that the seller delivers the goods – and transfers risk – to the buyer when the goods, once unloaded from the arriving means of transport, are placed at the disposal of the buyer at a named place of destination or at the agreed point within that place, if any such point is agreed. The seller bears all risks involved in bringing the goods to and unloading them at the named place of destination. In this Incoterms rule, therefore, the delivery and arrival at destination are the same. DPU is the only Incoterms rule that requires the seller to unload goods at destination. The seller should therefore ensure that it is in a position to organise unloading at the named place. Should the parties intend the seller not to bear the risk and cost of unloading, the DPU rule should be avoided and DAP should be used instead. 

EX WORKS (EXW) means that the seller delivers the goods to the buyer when it places the goods at the disposal of the buyer at a named place (like a factory or warehouse), and that named place may or may not be the seller’s premises. For delivery to occur, the seller does not need to load the goods on any collecting vehicle, nor does it need to clear the goods for export, where such clearance is applicable. 

FREE ALONGSIDE SHIP (FAS) means that the seller delivers the goods to the buyer when the goods are placed alongside the ship (e.g. on a quay or a barge) nominated by the buyer at the named port of shipment or when the seller procures goods already so delivered. The risk of loss of or damage to the goods transfers when the goods are alongside the ship, and the buyer bears all costs from that moment onward. 

FREE CARRIER (FCA) means that the seller delivers the goods to the buyer in one or other of two ways: 

  • First, when the named place is the seller’s premises, the goods are delivered when they are loaded on the means of transport arranged by the buyer.
  • Second, when the named place is another place, the goods are delivered when, having been loaded on the seller’s means of transport, they reach the named other place and are ready for unloading from that seller’s means of transport and at the disposal of the carrier or of another person nominated by the buyer. 

Whichever of the two is chosen as the place of delivery, that place identifies where risk transfers to the buyer and the time from which costs are for the buyer’s account. 

FREE ON BOARD (FOB) means that the seller delivers the goods to the buyer on board the vessel nominated by the buyer at the named port of shipment or procures the goods already so delivered. The risk of loss of or damage to the goods transfers when the goods are on board the vessel, and the buyer bears all costs from that moment onwards.

The Incoterms® Rules are protected by copyright owned by ICC.  Further information on the Incoterms® Rules may be obtained from the ICC website http://www.iccwbo.org.  Incoterms® and the Incoterms® 2020 logo are trademarks of ICC.  Use of these trademarks does not imply association with, approval of or sponsorship by ICC unless specifically stated above.