The Incoterms® rules are an internationally recognized standard and are used worldwide in international and domestic contracts for the sale of goods. First 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.
The terms are updated from time to time – the latest version (Incoterms® 2010) came into effect on January 1st 2011. However parties to a contract could agree to continue using an earlier version. In this case they should specify which one the contract is based on, for example Incoterms® 2000**.
*UNICITRAL is the Commission that formulates and regulates international trade in cooperation with the World Trade Organization – WTO. See
**The full set of Incoterms® 2010 can be obtained from the ICC website – visit
. Guidance Notes explain the fundamentals of each Incoterms® rule, such as when it should be used, when risk passes, and how costs are allocated between seller and buyer. The Guidance Notes are not part of the actual Incoterms® 2010 rules, but are intended to help the user accurately and efficiently steer towards the appropriate Incoterms® rule for a particular transaction. The ICC also offers a helpful wall chart that illustrates the obligations of each party under different delivery conditions.
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