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International Logistics Vocabulary

Incoterms, short for International Commercial Terms, are the nuts and bolts of international trade. They’re the compass that guides the delivery of goods and sets the rules for both buyers and sellers. Think of them as a universal language, helping diverse parties in different cultures understand their roles, costs, and risks.

Let’s break down some of the most common Incoterms and what they entail:

The “seller” readies the goods at their premises, and the delivery baton is then passed to the buyer. The “buyer” takes over transportation costs, much like purchasing right at the factory door.

The “seller” takes care of transporting goods to the carrier chosen by the buyer for export. As soon as the goods are en route, the “buyer” shoulders shipping costs and other expenses.

The “seller” hands over goods at the port of origin, leaving “buyer” responsible for the cost of getting goods on the ship and any associated risks and formalities.

Here, the “seller” concludes their responsibility when goods are loaded onto the ship. The “buyer” takes it from there – think shipping costs, risk, and responsibilities after departure.

Goods are the “seller’s” responsibility until they’re loaded onto the ship, including export duties and freight payment. The “buyer” takes the wheel from there, handling other costs and risks upon departure.

Like CFR, but with added insurance responsibility for the “seller.” They also handle export formalities, providing protection during transit. The “buyer” picks up the baton on other costs and risks once the goods set sail.

The “seller” manages transportation until goods reach the carrier at the port of origin. They also tackle export paperwork and pay freight. The “buyer” takes over costs and risks upon delivery to the consignee at the port.

Similar to CPT, but with insurance added. The “seller” takes care of transportation and insurance until the goods reach the shipping company at the destination.

The “seller” wraps up their job when goods are unloaded at the buyer’s designated terminal. This can be at the port or another agreed location.

The “seller” is responsible until the goods are ready for unloading at the agreed place, excluding import duties and taxes. Risk and expenses are transferred to the “buyer” upon arrival.

The “seller” takes care of everything – transportation, insurance, customs fees – right up to the buyer’s doorstep. It’s often seen in places like Amazon, where buyers have little to worry about.

white water boat

Understanding Incoterms is like having a handbook for smooth international trade. It clarifies expectations, responsibilities, and costs, making global commerce a little less complicated.

Photo by Julius Silver on

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