Is there a connection between Incoterms and the shipping line..??

Is there a connection between Incoterms and the shipping line..??

Are Shipping Lines concerned with Incoterms®..??

There have been several questions raised on this blog wherein readers (mostly forwarders and importers / exporters) have complained that their booking was on FCA, FOB, CIF etc and that the Carrier refuses to show details relating to commercial and sales information of the cargo on the bill of lading..

So I thought to clarify the connection between the shipping line and Incoterms®..

ICC (International Chamber of Commerce), defines Incoterms® as below :

The Incoterms® rules are an internationally recognized standard and are used worldwide in international and domestic contracts for the sale of goods.

Incoterms and the shipping lineFirst published in 1936, Incoterms® rules provide internationally accepted definitions and rules of interpretation for most common commercial terms.

The rules have been developed and maintained by experts and practitioners brought together by ICC and have become the standard in international business rules setting.

They help traders avoid costly misunderstandings by clarifying the tasks, costs and risks involved in the delivery of goods from sellers to buyers.

Incoterms® rules are recognized by UNCITRAL as the global standard for the interpretation of the most common terms in foreign trade.

Incoterms® are primarily an integral part of the sales contract for use between the seller and buyer..

So technically and legally there is no connection between Incoterms and the shipping line as these terms do not form part of any contract between a customer and shipping line..



The lines also will not show the Incoterms on their bill of lading either in the ports fields or in the body of the bill of lading as they don’t want to undertake the liabilities and risks that comes with the Incoterms especially when it is not a part of their contract..

But ironically, the shipping lines use the terms CIF business or FOB business to classify cargo that is commercially controlled by the shippers at a port (CIF) and cargo that is commercially controlled by the consignees at the same port (FOB)..

Here commercially controlled refers to whoever controls the freight rate negotiations with the shipping lines..

Have you come across any instances where the shipping line has been involved with Incoterms..??

Hariesh Manaadiar

Hey all, this is me Hariesh Manaadiar - your friendly neighborhood shipping blogger.. After having been in the shipping industry for around quarter of a century, I thought it was time that I shared some of what I have learnt over the years.. There you go, now you know something about me.. :) You can get to know more about me and what I know by following my blog for free.. :)

9 thoughts on “Is there a connection between Incoterms and the shipping line..??”..

Be part of the discussion and share your views about the article here..

  1. I sale 1 x 20 ‘from the shipper place to be delivered under hook Port Dakar – Senegal – My customer was the consignee in Africa sales in EXWORKS

    I initiated the operation after being paid freight, and the shipper was paid for his goods as well. Everyone was paid, and the consignee did not recover his container. What blocked it was customs fees that the consignee could not pay for lack of money.

    The shipowner sent a copy letter by e-mail of a letter at the attention of the shipper to warn him of the daily parking charges and as a merchant of the bill of lading he invited him to resell the goods or return them.

    The problem is that because everyone was paid, I sent the original 3 BLs to the consignee my customer by registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt, and signaled the sending of the recommended by mail the same as his shipment.

    Given that we are not in possession of the BL we can not help the shipowner. On the shipowner’s letter it is stipulated that the shipper is in solidarity and may be subrogated to pay the costs incurred.

    What are the risks involved…..

  2. If the order is written CIF, yes. Shipping Line will need to know if you the Seller are supplying the insurance or if the carrier / forwarder will be supplying it.

  3. Most lines use terms like CY – CY rather than proper incoterms. My employer cites CIF for such moves, meaning that THC and such are included in the cost of freight. The lines that I currently use do not use this term.

  4. Incoterms are related to contract of sales, not contract of transport. This isn’t meaning that contract of transport isn’t impacted by Incoterms, just that contract of transport is a specific arrangement between seller and buyer, along the contract of sales.
    One good example: Our company is running a solid LCL NVOCC dept. We are receiving import cargo from all over the world. It happens often, not every week but a couple of times monthly, that from specific origins, for a CIF basis shipment, supplier refused to pay for origin local charges and sometimes even for freight, so HBL is on collect basis with amounts to collect. This can be puzzling considering CIF incoterm definition, but it happens.

    1. What we know about CIF is that it does not include local handling charges and custom clearance at destination port.

  5. Great article Hariesh. Forwarders and SL use incoterms all the time, especially when quoting clients and in their own contracts with the customers. This a dangerous practice which adds to the customers confusion in the already treacherous world of incoterms which very few people (including seasoned professionals in international logistics) seem to be familiar with.

  6. It is a fact that Shipping Lines indicate CIF and FOB terms in their Bills of Lading because of it is mandatory for their POL and POD agents to know whether the freight charges are “Prepaid” or “Collect”.