The import and export of goods requires a written contract. The terms of this contract must be clearly understandable by both the exporter and the importer, even if they do not speak the same language, and even if their two countries have different business practices and legal systems.
To reduce the possibility of misunderstandings, 11 internationally recognised standard contract terms, known as Incoterms, are widely used in contracts between exporters and importers to set out the key tasks and responsibilities involved in delivering and receiving goods.
This factsheet explains what Incoterms are and how they are used. It also provides a short description of each Incoterm and sources of further information about exporting.
The factsheet is intended as a starting point only. To avoid costly contractual mistakes and disputes it is essential for importers and exporters to consult the full ‘Incoterms 2020’ document published by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) before agreeing contract terms.