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Incoterms are a crucial aspect of international trade that can help protect your business interests and ensure smooth operations.

What are Incoterms?

Imagine you're shipping goods from Auckland to a customer in Sydney. Incoterms, short for International Commercial Terms, are a standardised set of rules that define the rights and responsibilities of buyers and sellers in international transactions. These terms establish who is responsible for various tasks, such as transportation, insurance, customs clearance, and risk transfer, throughout the supply chain.

Ensuring clarity and reducing disputes

One of the significant advantages of understanding Incoterms is that they provide clarity and help reduce potential disputes between importers and exporters. When both parties clearly define their roles and responsibilities from the beginning, there's less room for misunderstandings or unexpected costs. By using Incoterms, we establish a common language that ensures everyone is on the same page.

Cost allocation and budgeting

By familiarising ourselves with the appropriate Incoterm for each transaction, we can accurately allocate costs and budget accordingly. These terms outline who is responsible for expenses like transportation, insurance, and customs duties. For instance, if you're an importer looking to optimise costs, you might choose an INCO term like EXW (Ex Works), where the seller's obligations end when the goods are made available at their premises. This way, you have more control over the logistics and associated expenses.

Risk management

Managing risks effectively is crucial for the success of any import-export business. Incoterms play a vital role in determining when the risk of loss or damage to the goods transfers from the seller to the buyer. Terms like CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight) and FOB (Free on Board) define at which point in the supply chain the responsibility shifts. Understanding these terms empowers us to make informed decisions about insurance coverage and ensure our goods are protected throughout the journey.

Compliance with customs and trade regulations

Compliance with customs and trade regulations is paramount in international trade. INCO terms assist us in understanding our obligations regarding customs formalities, duties, and documentation requirements. Terms such as DAP (Delivered at Place) and DDP (Delivered Duty Paid) indicate that the seller takes on the responsibility of clearing customs, making it easier for us to navigate complex regulations and avoid delays or penalties.


We've created a chart that shows the latest terms and what they mean at each stage of your shipment's journey.  Download the PDF here.

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