Incoterms 2020

Incoterms 2020: The Ultimate Guide

The international chamber of commerce has put in place Incoterms 2020, which took effect from 1st January 2020.

Groups participating in the trade must know well the changes and how they influence global supply chains.

The purpose of this outline is to grant an understanding of Incoterms 2020, how they work, their benefits, and their relation to Incoterms 2010.



What are Incoterms 2020?

Incoterms 2020 are an extension of the export contract as it does not mention price to be paid or methods of settling bill of payment.

2020 Incoterms lack focus on issues concerning ownership transfer, product liability, or breach of contract.

All these issues are established in the contract of sale.

Also, they cannot override any mandatory laws.

The latest revision changes made on incoterms 2020 include the following:

  • Incoterms 2020 recognizes the use of personal means of transportation by sellers.

The clause highlights explicitly that sellers can arrange necessary transportation or makes a contract for carriage.

  • The rules investigate export and import security determinants to ascertain who is responsible for meeting security requirements between the parties.
  • Important alternative in the term Free Carrier (FCA) whereby the shipper can tell the carrier to give a bill of lading inclusive of a notation of onboard to the shipper.

It is to satisfy the Letter of credit regulations.

  • Revision of the term CIP where the responsibilities of purchasing higher insurance cover levels lies with the seller.

For CIF, the insurance claim has not changed.

  • Renaming Delivered at Terminal (DAT) to Delivered at Place Unloaded (DPU).

Origin and History of Incoterms

Trade deals and legal agreements between sellers and buyers of different nationalities raised the importance of a standard regulations.

The regulations were supposed for easy understanding by all the trade parties to mitigate conflicts, litigation, and misunderstanding.

Incoterms were first bought in 1922 by the ICC and the opening incoterms regulations were set up in 1936. The word incoterms were first coined in 1936.

Overtime, incoterms have mutated or morphed into contractual standards that are quantified all over the world.

They are updated periodically as improvements, and inter-country trade events assuming very close attention.

Additional amendments on incoterms were made in 1953, 1967, 1976, 1980, 2000, 2010 and 2020.

Who can use Incoterms 2020?

Incoterms 2020 are used by:

  • Producers
  • Buyers
  • Traders
  • Governments
  • Banks
  • Sellers

Importance of incoterms 2020

  • Each incoterm grants importers and exporters essential rules which help them understand their responsibilities.
  • Incoterms 2020 help in clarifying any issues that may be in the contract.
  • When used correctly, incoterms 2020 can help in saving you from a lot of hustles.
  • They limit the legal risks complications by granting sellers and buyers a one reference point as the basis of the conduction of trade.
  • When used correctly, you will partner swiftly, transport and transport your goods efficiently, and get rewarded faster.
  • The rules are universal and thus provide predictability and clarity to business.
  • Responsibilities, risks incurrence, and costs of the parties involved are stated clearly and precisely in incoterms 2020.
  • Guide buyers and sellers how to begin and complete transactions, including packaging and labeling for international transport.

Obligations of the parties under Incoterms 2020

Seller’s obligations include:

  • Delivery.
  • Export/ import clearance.
  • Carriage.
  • General obligations.
  • Checking/ packaging/ marking.
  • General Obligation.
  • Allocation of costs.
  • Delivery or transport document.
  • Transfer of risks.

Buyer’s obligations include:

  • General obligations.
  • Allocation of costs.
  • Insurance.
  • Transfer of risks.
  • Export or import clearance.
  • Proof of delivery.
  • Carriage.
  • Taking delivery.
  • Checking/ packaging/ marking.
  • Notices.

Obligations governed by incoterms 2020 include:

  • The seller shall make the goods available to the buyer or their carrier to be transported and delivered at an agreed destination.
  • The breakdown of the ownership of risk between buyer and seller in the transportation process from the point of origin to the destination.
  • Custom clearance obligations in import and export.
  • Buyer’s obligation to take over the goods.

Aspects not governed by incoterms include:

  • Transfer of sales rights or property.
  • Breach of contract and consideration of the involved party in the violation.
  • Financial conditions and liability concerning carrying out the principal legal transactions.

Main Differences Between Incoterms 2010 and Incoterms 2020.

Differences between incoterms 2010 and 2020 include the following:

  • New incoterms DPU replaces DAT: Delivered at Terminal (DAT) incoterms now referred to as Delivered at Place unloaded (DPU).

The main aim of this change was to eliminate confusion encountered in the past.

  • Bill of lading in the FCA incoterms rule provision in incoterms 2020 highlights that buyers must give carriers instructions.

This is to provide a transportation document establishing that the cargo possesses a bill of lading.

Previously on incoterms 2010, most parties were using FOB instead of using FCA.

  • Different levels of insurance cover in CIP and CIF: these two rules are the only ones which need insurance in the buyer’s name.
  • Incoterms 2010, both rules were required under institute Cargo Clause C, while in incoterms 2020, CIP needs insurance cover to comply with Institute Cargo Clause A.
  • Clause A tends to take care of a more enhanced insurance level appropriate for manufactured goods, while Clause C applies mainly to commodities.
  • In incoterms, 2020 CIP does not change as it was in Clause C regarding the insurance cover, subject itemized exclusions, and the number of risks listed.
  • Updated costs and listings: in incoterms 2010, costs were a challenge for some parties, and price changes by carriers resulted in sellers incurring terminal handling costs.

Incoterms 2020 now gives enhanced details on each party’s specific costs under the rule’s A9/B9 sections.

  • Buyers and seller’s transport: previous incoterms assumed that a third-party vehicle provider would carry out all transportation activities.

Incoterms 2020 give provisions for the sellers’ and buyers’ transportation means.

The FCA rule grants the buyers’ permission for their means of transport while DAP, DPU, and DDP for sellers; own transportation means.

  • Increased security requirements and costs: incoterms 2020 rules have enhanced security allocations and expenses.

Each incoterm rule has its security allocations added on A4/A7 and associated costs added on A9/B9.

 2010 vs 2020

2010 vs 2020

Divisions of Incoterms 2020

Incoterms 2020 are divided i9 n four groups: C, D, E, F.

The rules are divided according to risk, fees, issues related to export and import, and formalities responsibility.

Group C Incoterms

In this group (Main Carriage Paid), the seller completes a transport contract and bears responsibility for the costs.

It is the responsibility of the seller to carry out export clearance.

Besides, the risk of the goods is moved to the buyer at the time the goods have been posted.

The buyer is responsible for handling all matters that arise after loading, transportation costs, and any other events.

Group D Incoterms

Group D incoterms (Arrival) state that the seller can deliver the goods to a specific destination place or port.

Group E Incoterms

Under group E (Departure), the goods are made available to the buyer by the seller at the delivery point indicated by the seller.

The seller does not have the responsibility of export or custom clearance and does not take care of loading or risk costs.

The incoterm rule under group E is Ex Works (EXW).

Group F Incoterms

Group F incoterms (Main Carriage Unpaid) states that the seller should perform export clearance.

The seller will not cater for insurance and transport costs.

Overview of Incoterms 2020

Here is critical information you need to know:

Incoterms for any Mode of Transport

These include:

Ex Works (EXW)

This rule is when goods are placed at the buyer’s disposal by the seller at either the seller’s premises or at another named place like a warehouse, factory, works, etc.

It is not the seller’s responsibility to load the goods on the collecting vehicle or even clear them for export when required.

Free Carrier (FCA)

The seller can deliver the goods to the carrier or a person chosen by the buyer at the seller’s premises or another given place.

The buyer will bear the risk of damage or loss of goods when the goods are alongside the ship.

Carriage Paid TO (CPT)

In CPT, the seller’s responsibility is to deliver the goods to the carrier or another person the buyer has nominated at a place agreed by the parties.

The seller will cater the costs of transporting the cargo up to the named point of destination.

Carriage and Insurance Paid To (CIP)

In this rule, the seller’s responsibilities are like CPT, but the parties’ contract for insurance cover against loss or damage to the buyer’s cargo.

The buyer should be aware that the seller must only cater to insurance on the minimum cover under CIP.

If there is a need for more insurance protection, there will be a need to negotiate and develop a strategy of additional insurance incurrence.

Delivered at Place (DAP)

In the DAP rule, the seller has the responsibility to bring the goods at the buyer’s disposal on the arriving means of transport at the named port of destination and ready to be unloaded.

The seller covers all the risks incurred up to the named port of destination.

Delivered at Place Unloaded (DPU) (Replaces Incoterm 2010 DAT)

The goods are placed at the buyer’s disposal by the seller at the named point of destination once unloaded from the means used in transportation.

The seller covers all the risks in bringing the goods to the destination point and unloading them.

Delivered Duty Paid (DDP)

In the DDP rule, the goods are delivered to the buyer by the seller once they have arrived at their disposal, have been cleared for import, and are ready to be unloaded.

The risks in bringing the goods up to the destination point, conducting custom procedures, and payment of duty are taken care of by the seller.

Incoterms for Sea and Inland Waterway Transport

These include:

Free on Board (FOB)

In FOB, the seller can deliver the goods onto a vessel selected by the buyer at a named port.

The risk of loss or damage of the cargo takes place when the goods are on board.

Cost and Freight (CFR)

In CFR, the seller is responsible for delivering the goods on board the vessel or purchases the goods that have been given.

The risk of damage or loss transfers to the buyer when the goods are on the ship.

The seller should cater for all costs incurred in bringing the cargo to the named port of destination.

Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF)

CIF rule states that the seller should deliver the goods on board the vessel, and the risk of loss or damage will transfer after the goods are on board.

Costs incurred to bring the goods to the port of destination are incurred by the seller.

Insurance cover to protect the cargo against loss or damage during carriage is also paid by the seller.

As a buyer, it is essential to note that the seller must cater to insurance only on the minimum cover under CIF.

If you need more insurance protection, there will be a need to negotiate and develop a strategy of additional insurance incurrence.

Free Alongside Ship (FAS)

The goods are considered delivered when the seller places them alongside the vessel chosen by the buyer at the named port of shipment.

The buyer bears the costs and risk of loss or damage once the goods are alongside the ship.

 sea and inlaand waterway transport

 sea and inland waterway transport

Transfer of Risk in Incoterms 2020

Foreseeing risk transfer is an essential element when preparing a contract.

Through using incoterms 2020, the risk of loss and damage is transferred in different ways between the seller and the buyer.

It is essential that the seller and buyer not misunderstand the actual application of incoterms 2020, which relate to the sale contract and transport contract.

The parties should keep in mind that incoterms 2020 will not be treated as “laws” because this lies in the business’s parties’ agreement.

The parties must choose what is appropriate for their contract and, where necessary, modify incoterms to suit it.

CPT rule establishes that the seller will cater for the freight up to the destination port, but the risk will transfer to the buyer once the shipment is at the port.

CPT rule under incoterms 2020 states that cargo is delivered for risk transfer and the end agreed as the destination of goods is essential.

In case the parties do not find a firm agreement, then the risk is transferred once the goods are handed over to the first carrier.

When products are damaged at the seller’s risk, the seller may be preventing to deliver against the terms of the contract.

In this case, the buyer may resolve legal remedies or not cater to the purchased price.

Incase destruction occurs when products are at the buyer’s risk, and they will have to bear the loss.

The buyer will just have to pay the seller the agreed cost.

It is up to the buyer to follow up on insurance companies or transport operators to claim damages.

In summary, incoterms 2020:

  • They are not laws but optional rules.
  • They relate to the sale contract and thus do not affect the transportation contract.
  • Do not concern property transfer or any other sales right.
  • The obligations undertaken by either party are not governed by incoterms 2020 because they are strictly confined to delivering goods.
  • Incoterms 2020 does not concern the breach of the contract with relevant consequences of the party in violation.

How to Apply Incoterms 2020 in Sales Transactions?

The new incoterms 2020 came into effect on 1st January 2020.

It is required that all parties elaborate clearly in their contracts the version of incoterms they refer to avoid confusion.

In trading agreements, different trading partners will implement incoterms at varying times.

Therefore, it is important to check existing contacts to ascertain that the incoterms’ year is included.

Effects of Incoterm 2020 on International shipping

Incoterms 2020 play a vital role in international trade.

According to International Commercial Terms (ICC), incoterms 2020 dictates globally accepted definitions and terms used in trading contracts.

When preparing price quotations and language, incoterms are the most important international shipping tool.

This is because they establish the agreement between the seller and the buyer on their roles, conditions, terms, and sale definition.

Incoterms 2020 state the boundary between a buyer and seller as they establish where a risk commences, the geographical point, and who owns what.

 incoterms in international trade

incoterms in international trade

Limitations of Incoterms 2020

Incoterms 2020 do not:

  • State liability for failure to make goods that conform to the contract available, measures to solve disputes, or delays in delivery.
  • Notify the transfer of ownership of cargo from the buyer to the seller.
  • Establish all the conditions required to carry out a sale.
  • Give clarification of the documents to be made available by the seller to the buyer to help in customs at the country of the buyer.
  • Establish the cargo that is being sold or the price.
  • Refer to the method or time of payment agreed upon by the buyer and seller.

When to Adopt Incoterms 2020 vs Incoterms 2010

You may adopt incoterms 2010 when you would like all transportation to be undertaken by a third-party provider.

On the other hand, if you would like you or the buyer to use your means of transport, you may adopt incoterms 2020.

2010 vs 2020 incfoterms

 2010 vs 2020 incoterms

 How to Implement Incoterms 2020 in Your Business?

Incoterms 2010 can be adopted if the sellers still want to use Free on Board (FOB) when they want the contract

In case you want the insurance cover for CIF ana CIP to be under Institute Cargo Clause C, you may adopt incoterms 2010.

However, if you would a more comprehensive insurance cover, you may assume incoterms 2020 as CIP has an upgraded Institute Cargo Clause A.

It is essential to take time and assess how changes and upgrades in incoterms might impact your business.

Always engage professional legal advice before making any adjustments to your business.

To implement incoterms 2020 in your business, there are a few things that you may consider:

  • Establish the incoterms that your business typically uses.
  • Put in place tighter security for exports and imports.
  • Audit any contacts which have extended into 2020 or need renew in 2020.
  • Make changes and adjustments to any documents and contracts where necessary.
  • In case you are buying or selling on credit, consider using FCA rather than FOB.
  • Ensure that both parties are using the incoterms edition you are stating in the sales contract.
  • Increase insurance cover level to meet CIP requirements.
  • Analyze updated costs further and if they impact your landed cost calculations.
  • Understand who is responsible for covering loading and unloading charges.
  • Seek professional legal advice from legal analysts and experienced supply chain officers to audit the current procedures.
  • Ascertain where the risk of loss is transferred.

Legal Effect of Incoterms 2020

Incoterms 2020 are not legally binding unless reference to a specific incoterm is incorporated into the contract.

Parties should note the following when adopting the formulation above:

  • The correct “named port, point or place” must be correctly inserted by the parties, which may refer to the place of destination or delivery depending on the contract.
  • Parties must consult article A2 (“Delivery”) to establish the appropriate incoterm section.
  • It is essential to state the incoterm version used and not necessary to use the trademark symbol.

This will help avoid disputes which may arise due to misinterpretation of versions.

  • Use of incoterm 2020 in trading will not govern any other contract or bind any third party.

Do Incoterms 2020 Work With Letters of Credit (L/Cs)

To obtain financial security, it is essential to choose the right combination of incoterm 2020 and Letter of credit conditions.

Individual consideration of incoterms 20202 and Letter of Credit conditions may lead to the incurrence of high costs and be contra-productive.

Therefore, it is essential to learn how to combine and choose the incoterms and contract terms, Letter of credit conditions, insurance, and transport from international professionals.

Banks need to understand underlying transactions to determine the risk of potential losses or eliminate breach of the law of financial crime possibilities.

This must be established even though banks will only deal with goods, contracts, and services.

When banks understand the parties’ incoterms and contractual agreements, they will establish the appropriate financial solution.

Corporates need to know arising opportunities and risks from the beginning of negotiations to the latter.

Basing on this, they should be able to select an appropriate incoterm 2020 while looking at:

  • Payment securities
  • Transport conditions
  • Cost-conscious contracts
  • Insurance

How Incoterms 2020 Can Affect Your Business

The main goal of incoterms 2020 is to make regulations easily accessible to users, prepare a digital version, and lower prices.

Changes in incoterms 2020 can be summarized as follows:

  • Introduction of the incoterms is more detailed.
  • Each rule has been updated with explanatory notes.
  • The seller and the buyer have ten rules which have been reordered within each delivery term.
  • There is a clear cost contribution between the seller and the buyer.
  • Better capturing of the use of own means of transport.
  • Delivery term DAP replaced by DPU (Delivered at Place Unloaded)
  • CIP shipments are now covered by “All risk Cover.”
  • FCA for on/board B/L (RULES A6 and B6)

In case your business involves transportation of purchased or sold goods, you should analyze the delivery terms used.

Establish factors that may influence the selection of delivery terms such as:

  • Special needs.
  • Critical situations for your business to be in control during transportation.
  • Service level.
  • Type of goods.
  • Means of transport.
  • Buyer and seller relationship.

After such analysis, most businesses will choose to change the delivery terms they have used over time.

This might be due to unknown risks or costs, or optimal term of delivery.

Some businesses may experience challenges when changing the delivery term as they may incur additional costs because of the wrong delivery term choice.

This may affect the business, and therefore, it is recommended to conduct comprehensive research and clearly understand incoterms 2020 to gain on delivery terms.

When will the Incoterms 2020 be Revised?

Incoterms 2020 was revised by an incoterm 2020 drafting group led by co-chairs David Lowe, Christoph Martina, and Radtke.

Experts form this group of personnel from several nations to recognize their contribution to ICC and International Commercial Law over the years.

The procedure followed to revise incoterm rules entails:

  • Once the drafting group has carried out its revisions, the revised drafts are circulated internationally using the ICC’s national committees.
  • The comments and suggestions resulting from the circulated draft are then directed back to the drafting group.
  • Once the ICC Commission approves the final draft on Commercial Law and Practice, it is then submitted to the ICC Executive Board.
  • The main aim of this broad consultation internationally is to make sure official ICC products have authority.

It also shows that the ICC products represent a right consensus point of view of the world business community.

How to get Incoterms 2020

Incoterms 2020 is got on ICC’s new eCommerce platform known as ICC Knowledge 2Go in digital and print formats.

It is essential to be aware that the incoterms 2020 edition is available in about 29 languages.

The ICC Committee has also organized more than 250 training seminars and launch events worldwide.

An online course and certificate program are also available in ICC’s educational arm known as the ICC Academy.

When shipping from China, BanSar will help you choose the right Incoterm.

Contact us now for all your freight forwarding needs from China.

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