Incoterms: they occur regularly in the purchase and sale of products and goods. But what do they mean and what exactly do they serve? Officially, Incoterms give an exact division of the obligations of seller and buyer in (international) transport agreements.

Incoterms (international delivery terms): what does it say?

Incoterms describe the roles of the buyer and the seller in an international trade agreement. Who should do what and when? In the contract between both parties, the following is laid down:


The obligations of the buyer and the seller with regard to transport


Who arranges the insurances, licences, authorisations and all other formalities?


Who arranges the transport to where and is responsible for it?


When do the costs and risks go from the seller to the buyer?

There are 11 different Incoterms. Following the implementation of the changes on 1 January 2020, this number has not changed. However, the Incoterm DAT has lapsed and Incoterm DPU has been added. There are 4 Incoterms, specifically intended for transport by water (shipping and inland shipping). However, this is not an obligation: the remaining 7 Incoterms can also be used for transport over water. This does not work the other way around: the 4 'water' Incoterms cannot be used for road or rail transport.


The Incoterms in a row:

Incoterms for all types of transport:

  • EXW Ex Works
  • FCA Free Carrier
  • CPT Carriage Paid To
  • CIP Carriage and insurance paid to
  • DPU Delivered at Place Unloaded (previously: DAT)
  • DAP Delivery At Place
  • DDP Delivery Duty Paid

Incoterms for transport over water:

  • FAS Free Alongside Ship
  • FOB Free On Board
  • CFR Cost and Freight
  • CIF Cost, Insurance and Freight

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