Do you adopt or incorporate Incoterms in any of your contracts for sale or purchase of goods? Or do any of your trading parties’ terms and conditions refer to Incoterms? If so you may be inadvertently trading on such terms.

Incoterms are a standardised set of international trade terms which define the responsibilities of sellers and buyers for the delivery of goods under sales contracts. They are published by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and are often used in transactions by parties trading internationally, in order to ease international trade.

The first set of Incoterms was published in 1936. The most recent version (being version 9) came into force on 1 January 2020 – the previous published version was Incoterms 2010.

The new Incoterms contain 11 rules, some of which are applicable to any mode of carriage, and others which are applicable to carriage by sea and inland waterways only.

Given that there are now differences between Incoterms 2020 and Incoterms 2010, traders should ensure that their contracts make clear, if reference is made to Incoterms, which version applies.

Some of the changes introduced in the Incoterms 2020 version include: removal of the term “DAT” (Delivered at Terminal), and introduction of the term “DPU” (Delivered at Place Unloaded); clarifying, in relation to CIP and CIF terms, obligations of the parties in relation to insurance; providing, in relation to FCA, DAP, DPU and DDP, that the seller or the buyer may undertake the carriage itself (rather than entering into a contract for carriage).

Traders should also be particularly alive to how using Incoterms might impact on them following Brexit. Import and export duties and controls may be imposed following Brexit and, if Incoterms apply, the effect may be that either the buyer or the seller may be responsible for duties and obligations that did not exist before Brexit.

If you would like any further information about this, please contact Corporate and Commercial Solicitor Mary Anne Fedeyko by email at or by phone on 01206 217049. Legal 500 Leading Individual Mary Anne leads the Corporate and Commercial team at Thompson Smith and Puxon Solicitors.