CIF Incoterm

CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight) is an Incoterm similar to CFR in that it requires the seller to pay all costs associated with delivering goods to a port of destination designated by the buyer.

The difference between CIF and CFR is that in addition to paying for transportation, the seller also pays for insurance against loss of or damage to goods during transit, up until the point of delivery at the destination. The buyer must then take responsibility for any additional costs related to unloading and onward delivery of items at the destination.

What Are the Seller’s and Buyer’s Responsibilities Under CIF Terms? 

Under the CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight) Incoterm, there are clear roles for both the seller and buyer. Let’s take a closer look at these responsibilities.

Seller Responsibilities:

  • Ensure delivery of goods to the specified port of shipment.
  • Manage and pay for transporting goods to this port.
  • Handle export customs clearance, including necessary licenses and permits.
  • Pay for ocean freight charges and book vessel space.
  • Obtain marine insurance for goods during their sea transit to the destination port.
  • Cover export duties and taxes.

Buyer Responsibilities:

  • Pay the price for the goods as agreed in the contract.
  • Handle import customs clearance and related duties and taxes.
  • Unload goods at the destination port and arrange their transport to the final destination.
  • Assume risk for goods once they’re loaded onto the vessel at the shipment port.
  • Notify the seller about any loss or damage during transit, as the seller provides insurance.
  • Inspect goods upon arrival and resolve any issues related to quantity or quality with the carrier or authorities.

These responsibilities are essential for smooth and compliant trade under the CIF terms. It is important to note that most of these responsibilities can be handled with the help of a trusted freight forwarder

Frequently Asked Questions

The following is a list of frequently asked questions concerning the CIF incoterm.

What Are the Potential Applications of the CIF Incoterm in International Shipping?

In shipping, the CIF Incoterm is typically applied when the seller can directly access the vessel for loading, including both containerized and non-containerized goods. This scenario aligns well with CIF terms because it allows the seller to efficiently handle logistics, ensuring goods are transported to the port and loaded onto the vessel smoothly. When the seller possesses expertise in shipping and insurance, they can effectively negotiate favorable terms and pricing under CIF, making it an attractive option. Furthermore, CIF can be considered an appropriate choice for buyers seeking a more streamlined shipping process, as it places responsibility for both transportation and insurance on the seller.

What Happens if the Goods are Damaged or Lost During Transit Under CIF?

If goods are damaged or lost during transit under CIF Incoterms, the buyer should immediately notify the seller and the carrier upon arrival at the destination port. An inspection may be conducted to assess the damage, and the buyer should work with the seller to initiate an insurance claim. The seller, responsible for securing insurance, typically receives compensation from the insurer, covering the loss. Disputes should be resolved through cooperation, with legal action as a last resort if needed. It is always important to keep in mind that clear communication and well-documented contracts are vital to streamlining the resolution process.

Can the Seller Choose the Insurance Provider Under CIF? 

Yes, under CIF Incoterms (Cost, Insurance, and Freight), it is typically the seller’s responsibility to choose the insurance provider. The seller is responsible for obtaining marine insurance coverage for the goods during their journey to the named port of destination. However, it’s important to note that while the seller selects the insurance provider, they are obligated to provide insurance coverage that meets the minimum requirements specified in the contract or as agreed upon with the buyer.


The insurance coverage should typically include risks such as loss or damage to the goods while in transit by sea. The insurance should also cover the value of the goods at the time they are loaded onboard the vessel at the port of shipment. The buyer’s interests are protected in the sense that the seller is obliged to arrange and pay for this insurance, ensuring that the goods are adequately covered while in transit.


It’s essential for the buyer and seller to clearly define the insurance coverage requirements and details in the sales contract to avoid any misunderstandings or disputes. While the seller selects the insurance provider, they should ensure that the insurance terms and coverage align with the buyer’s needs and the specifics of the transaction.

What is the Difference Between CIF and CFR Incoterms?

CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight) and CFR (Cost and Freight) are both Incoterms used in international trade, but they have a key difference. Under CIF, the seller is not only responsible for covering the freight charges to transport the goods to the buyer’s destination port but also must procure and pay for the minimum insurance coverage for the goods during transit. This insurance aspect is what primarily sets CIF apart from CFR. In contrast, with CFR, the seller’s responsibility ends with arranging and paying for the transportation of goods to the destination port. The buyer assumes all risks for loss or damage to the goods as soon as they are loaded aboard the shipping vessel at the port of shipment. Therefore, under CFR, the buyer needs to arrange and bear the cost of insurance separately. Understanding this distinction is crucial in international trade negotiations to ensure that both parties are clear about their obligations and risks.

What is the Difference Between CIF and FOB Incoterms?

Both CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight) and FOB (Free On Board) offer different characteristics in terms of risk and cost responsibilities. Under CIF, the seller is responsible for booking and paying for the transportation of goods to the destination port, including obtaining and paying for minimum insurance coverage during sea transit. Under the CIF Incoterm, the risk is passed on to the buyer once the cargo is loaded onto the vessel at the port of exit, but the seller remains responsible for the sea freight and insurance costs until the goods reach the destination port.

In contrast, FOB shifts more responsibility to the buyer. Here, the seller’s obligation ends when the goods are loaded onto the vessel at the shipment port. From that point onwards, the buyer bears all costs and risks of loss or damage. This means that the buyer will be responsible for organizing and paying for both the sea freight and the insurance. 

FOB is often preferred by buyers who want greater control over the shipping process (for example, by working with a freight forwarder), whereas CIF is chosen for a more seller-managed shipping arrangement. It is crucial to understand these differences in order to make the most informed decisions for your international shipping agreements.

What Are the Disadvantages of Using CIF for Buyers?

While the CIF Incoterm can offer certain benefits, buyers should be aware that it may also have some disadvantages. Primarily, buyers have limited control over the shipping and insurance arrangements, as these are handled by the seller. This lack of control may result in to potential issues with shipping quality and insurance coverage adequacy. Furthermore, buyers might face higher costs since sellers could mark up freight and insurance charges to cover their risk. Additionally, the transfer of risk to buyers occurs when goods are loaded onto the ship, yet they pay for transportation and insurance until the destination port. This means buyers bear the risk for most of the journey without direct control over the transportation process. Being aware of these possible drawbacks is crucial for buyers in making informed decisions when negotiating trade terms.

What are the Advantages of Using CIF Incoterms for Buyers and Sellers?

The CIF Incoterm (Cost, Insurance, and Freight) offers distinct advantages for both buyers and sellers in international trade deals. For buyers, CIF provides reduced risk as it places the responsibility for insuring the goods during transit squarely on the seller’s shoulders, offering a level of security, especially for risk-averse buyers. The logistics of shipping become significantly more straightforward as sellers take charge of arranging transportation and insurance to the named destination port. This simplification saves buyers time and effort, while the transparency of total costs, including transportation and insurance expenses, assists in budgeting and financial planning. Moreover, buyers can often benefit from the seller’s expertise in international shipping and insurance, potentially securing favorable terms and pricing.

For sellers, CIF can confer competitive advantages, particularly for those who excel in efficiently managing logistics and negotiating favorable insurance terms. Sellers gain more control over the shipping process, enabling them to choose carriers and insurance providers as well as ensure the safe loading of goods onto vessels. Additionally, CIF can expand market access, as it aligns with the preferences of international buyers who appreciate the convenience of seller-provided insurance. The clarity of having a predetermined price can make negotiations smoother and enhance the predictability of sales pricing.


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