Incoterms 2023 Guide

Incoterms 2023 Guide

Incoterms Guide to use in 2023

The Incoterms 2023 play a vital role in international trade. The latest Incoterms 2023 were released by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), which provides updated guidelines for international trade. For those asking, "What is the Incoterms 2023?" or "What is Incoterms in shipping?" These terms define the responsibilities of buyers and sellers in the transportation of goods. The 2023 Incoterms include 11 Incoterms 2023 rules, which are crucial for both export and import transactions. These Incoterms ICC 2023 are vital for ensuring clarity in international logistics. Understanding the international Incoterms 2023 is essential for anyone involved in the supply chain, making the role of Incoterms in logistics 2023 more significant than ever.

What are Incoterms?

Incoterms are standardized rules that define buyers' and sellers' responsibilities in international trade. Developed by the ICC, they provide clear guidelines for goods movement across borders. Covering aspects like risk transfer, costs, and logistics, Incoterms ensure seamless communication and smooth operations in global business.

Importance of Incoterms for Exporters

The significance of these terms for exporters should not be overlooked. These standardized rules and guidelines facilitate international trade transactions. When exporters adhere to Incoterms, it brings about clarity and consistency in terms of responsibilities, costs, and risk allocation between both buyers and sellers. Not only does it streamline the process, but it also ensures that everyone involved is on the same page.

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Changes and updates to Incoterms 2023

In addition to the core elements of the previous versions, the following changes are noteworthy.

  • DAP Incoterms 2023 (Delivered at Place) : It has been updated to include deliveries to special locations called inland clearance/container depots (ICDs). ICDs are places where goods are checked for import or export. This change was made to account for the increased use of ICDs in global trade and to clarify the responsibilities of the buyer and seller when delivering to these locations.

    Previously, DAP referred to the seller delivering goods to a specific destination within the buyer's country. The seller was responsible for transportation, costs, and risks associated with reaching that destination.

  • DDP incoterms 2023 (Delivered Duty Paid): The lack of clarity in the previous version of DDP could result in disputes or misalignment regarding the allocation of costs and risks associated with customs clearance and delivery. As a result of the clarification, the Incoterms 2023 DDP now clearly outlines that the seller is responsible for all costs and risks associated with the delivery of goods, including customs clearance.
  • Incoterm 2023 brings an enhanced focus on sustainability, highlighting the importance of environmentally responsible practises for buyers and sellers. The updated guidelines encourage both parties to prioritize eco-friendly approaches. Specifically, it recommends considering sustainable transportation alternatives like rail or sea transport as viable options, with the aim of reducing reliance on air freight and its associated carbon footprint.

Applicability of Incoterms in international trade

They are applicable in various aspects of international transactions:

  • Contractual agreements: Incoterms are used to define the terms of sale in contracts between buyers and sellers and to specify the obligations and liabilities of each party.
  • Cost allocation: Incoterms define responsibilities for transportation, insurance, customs clearance, and other costs to ensure clear cost allocation between the parties involved.
  • Transfer of risk: Incoterms define the point at which risk transfers from the seller to the buyer, i.e., when the buyer assumes responsibility for the goods, including possible loss, damage, or delay during transportation.
  • Logistics and transportation: Incoterms help define the duties and responsibilities of each party with respect to the organization and performance of transportation, including the choice of means of transportation, place of delivery, and related logistics. At Citrus Freight, we are committed to meeting the diverse needs of our clients by providing comprehensive logistics and transportation services. With our expertise and dedication, you can rest assured that your cargo will reach its destination quickly and efficiently.
  • Documentation: Incoterms are used to define the documentation needed for international trade, such as bills of lading, commercial invoices, and insurance certificates.
  • Insurance considerations: Incoterms explain insurance obligations and determine which party is responsible for obtaining and maintaining insurance coverage.
  • Dispute Resolution: When a dispute or disagreement arises between buyers and sellers, Incoterms serve as a reference point by clarifying the agreed terms and conditions.

Key concepts and terminology

Whether you're a small business owner or a multinational corporation, familiarizing yourself with Incoterms is key to maximizing profitability and minimizing complications in the global marketplace.

List of incoterms 2023:

Responsibilities of seller and buyer

Incoterms define the specific responsibilities and obligations of both the seller (exporter) and the buyer (importer) in an international trade transaction. Listed below are each party's key responsibilities:

  • Agree on the appropriate Incoterm and communicate roles and obligations clearly.
  • Maintain effective communication for a smooth transaction.
  • Ensure proper packaging and labeling of goods for transportation.
  • Coordinate transportation and necessary services to the agreed delivery point.
  • Handle export/import customs clearance as agreed upon.
  • Take responsibility for insurance coverage and provide evidence, if applicable.
  • Conduct inspections to meet specifications and standards.
  • Promptly notify each other of any changes affecting the transaction or delivery.
  • Bear risks during transportation and delivery as per the chosen Incoterm.
  • Handle additional costs specified in the Incoterm (e.g., duties, taxes, fees).
  • Resolve disputes cooperatively and in a timely manner. Comply with laws, regulations, and trade practices throughout the transaction.

Depending on the chosen Incoterm, the seller and buyer may have different responsibilities and obligations.

Transfer of risk and delivery

The Transfer of risk and delivery are vital aspects of any business transaction. Clearly defining the responsibilities and liabilities of each party ensures a balanced and smooth transaction. Effective management of both the transfer of risk and delivery is crucial for building trust and maintaining successful business relationships.

Modes of transport and choice of Incoterms

Different Incoterms are designed to accommodate various transportation modes. Here's how transport mode influences Incoterm choice:

  • Incoterms for Any Mode of Transport:

    There are certain Incoterms that can be used for any mode of transport, including land, sea, air, or multimodal transport. Among these are Ex Works (EXW), Free Carrier (FCA), CPT, CIP, Direct at Place (DAP), Direct at Place Unloaded (DPU), and Delivered Duty Paid (DDP). These terms are suitable when the specific mode of transport is not a defining factor.

  • Incoterms for Sea and Inland Waterway Transport:

    Certain Incoterms are specifically designed for maritime or inland waterway transport. These include Free Alongside Ship (FAS), Free on Board (FOB), Cost and Freight (CFR), and Cost, Insurance, and Freight (CIF). These terms are commonly used in shipping scenarios where goods are transported via vessels.

  • Incoterms for Air Transport:

    While Incoterms designed specifically for air transport do not exist, certain terms like Free Carrier (FCA), Carriage Paid To (CPT), and Carriage and Insurance Paid To (CIP) are commonly used in air freight situations. These terms can accommodate the requirements of air transport and ensure a clear delineation of responsibilities between the buyer and seller.

Incoterms and transfer of ownership

Incoterms and ownership transfers in international trade are interconnected. Incoterms specify the transfer of risk, which is closely linked to ownership transfers. For instance, in EXW, risk and likely ownership transfer occur at the seller's premises. In DDP, risk and ownership transfer happen upon delivery at the agreed destination.

However, it's crucial to understand that while Incoterms provide guidance, they don't explicitly determine ownership transfer. Other factors like contracts, legal requirements, and relevant documents (e.g., bills of lading) govern the actual ownership transfer.

Most commonly used incoterm in exports

The Most Commonly Used Incoterms in Exports: CIF, FOB, and EXW

  • CIF: CIF is widely preferred by exporters, especially when dealing with maritime transportation. Under CIF, the seller takes charge of arranging and paying for the cost, insurance, and freight to deliver the goods to the named port of destination. At the time of loading the goods onto the vessel, the risk passes from the seller to the buyer. CIF offers a comprehensive package that simplifies logistics and provides added convenience for buyers.
  • FOB: FOB is another popular Incoterm, particularly in sea freight transactions. With FOB, the seller's responsibility ends when the goods are loaded onto the vessel at the named port of shipment. From that point on, risk transfers to the buyer, who assumes control over the transportation, insurance, and associated costs. FOB empowers buyers with greater flexibility and decision-making power throughout the shipping process.
  • EXW: EXW is commonly chosen when exporters prefer minimal involvement in the transportation process. Under EXW, the seller makes the goods available at their premises, and the buyer assumes full responsibility for transportation, including costs, risks, and customs clearance. EXW grants buyers the highest degree of control but requires them to handle all logistics and related tasks independently.

Choosing the Right Incoterm for Your Export

Factors to consider when selecting an Incoterm

Transportation: Choose an Incoterm that aligns with your shipment's mode of transportation (sea, air, land, or multimodal transport).

Risk and Insurance: Assess your risk tolerance and insurance needs. Consider Incoterms that allocate responsibility and insurance coverage accordingly.

Delivery Requirements: Determine if you want the seller to handle the entire delivery process or if the buyer prefers more control, then specify the delivery location and any special requirements.

Cost Considerations: Evaluate the distribution of costs, including transportation, insurance, customs duties, and other expenses. Select an Incoterm that aligns with your budget and financial objectives.

Regulatory Compliance: Consider customs regulations and legal requirements in the importing country. Choose an Incoterm that facilitates smooth customs clearance and compliance.

Experience and Negotiation: Take your experience and relationships with suppliers or buyers into account. Engage in open communication and negotiation for a mutually beneficial agreement.


This guide serves as a valuable resource for exporters, providing a comprehensive understanding of Incoterms, their application, and best practises. By applying the knowledge gained and utilizing the provided resources, exporters can navigate the complexities of international trade with confidence, ensuring successful and efficient business operations.