FCA Incoterm

An FCA (Free Carrier) Incoterm requires the seller to deliver the goods to a carrier or another person nominated by the buyer at an agreed place (usually a forwarder’s warehouse or terminal) and bear all costs and risks to this point, including export formalities.

The buyer then takes on responsibility for loading, unloading, transport fees, insurance cover, and any other costs associated with getting the goods delivered to their final destination, including import formalities.

This allows for greater flexibility as it can be used in many transportation methods, such as road, rail, air, or sea freight.

What Are the Differences Between the FCA (Free Carrier) and FOB (Free on Board) Incoterms?

FCA (Free Carrier) and FOB (Free on Board) are both widely used Incoterms in international trade, each with its own set of distinct differences. First, in terms of the point of delivery, FCA places the responsibility on the seller to deliver the goods to a named place, which could be their premises, a carrier, or another specified location, with risk transferring to the buyer upon delivery. In contrast, FOB requires the seller to not only deliver the goods but also load them aboard the vessel nominated by the buyer at the named port of shipment, with risk passing once the goods are loaded. 

Additionally, FCA allows for flexibility in choosing transport modes, while FOB is primarily suitable for sea transport from a named port. Furthermore, the allocation of costs varies, with FCA having the seller cover delivery costs and export clearance and FOB having the seller also cover the initial delivery, export clearance, and, in addition, loading the goods onto the vessel, with the buyer assuming subsequent costs and risks. 

While neither term mandates insurance, in most cases, the buyer can secure cargo insurance alongside the overall shipping expenses through their freight forwarder. 

These distinctions highlight the importance of careful consideration when selecting between FCA and FOB, ensuring a clear understanding of responsibilities and obligations in international trade transactions.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following list contains a number of frequently asked questions concerning the FCA incoterm.

Can the FCA Incoterm Be Used for Both Small and Large Shipments? 

Yes, the FCA Incoterm can be applied for both small and large shipments. FCA is a flexible Incoterm that can be implemented for a wide range of shipment sizes and types. Whether it’s a small package, a container load, or a larger consignment, FCA can accommodate various shipment sizes and weights.

The key advantage of using FCA for small and large shipments is its adaptability to different modes of transportation, such as air, sea, road, and rail. The choice of transportation mode and the named place of delivery can be specified in the contract between the buyer and the seller, making it suitable for shipments of various sizes and destinations.

However, it’s essential to ensure that the specific details of the FCA agreement are clearly defined in the sales contract or purchase order to avoid any misunderstandings or disputes regarding the responsibilities of each party, especially when dealing with larger or more complex shipments. This includes specifying the named place of delivery, responsibilities for loading and unloading, and any additional services or requirements related to the shipment.

What Are the Advantages of Using the FCA Incoterm for Both the Buyer and Seller? 

The FCA Incoterm provides distinct advantages to both buyers and sellers in international trade transactions. 

For sellers, FCA provides flexibility in choosing the named place of delivery, allowing them to select a location that aligns with their operational efficiency. It also limits the seller’s risk exposure, as risk transfers to the buyer upon delivery, reducing liability for potential damage or loss during transportation. Sellers can maintain control over the export process, ensuring compliance with export regulations and documentation requirements, which can be particularly valuable for sensitive or regulated goods. Additionally, there’s potential for cost savings, as the chosen place of delivery can often be more favorable in terms of proximity to the seller’s facility or in terms of negotiating initial transportation costs to the agreed-upon location.

Buyers, on the other hand, benefit from the ability to choose their preferred mode of transportation and carrier, giving them greater control over shipping costs and the freedom to select carriers based on their specific needs and preferences. Risk passes to the buyer at the point of delivery, meaning they assume responsibility for any potential damage or loss after that point, providing clarity and accountability. The cost breakdown is also transparent, making it easier for buyers to understand their financial obligations in the transaction. Furthermore, the flexibility to negotiate the named place of delivery allows buyers to pick a location that suits their operational and logistical requirements. 

Notably, FCA relieves sellers of the obligation to handle import customs clearance at the destination country, placing that responsibility firmly in the hands of the buyer. 

In summary, the FCA Incoterm offers valuable benefits for both parties involved, including flexibility, risk management, cost control, and the ability to tailor terms to their specific needs, provided a well-defined sales contract is in place to avoid potential misunderstandings and ensure mutual understanding.

FCA Vs. EXW Incoterms: What’s the Difference?

Understanding the difference between FCA (Free Carrier) and EXW (Ex Works) Incoterms is crucial for businesses engaged in international trade, as it helps in choosing the right terms that align with their shipping responsibilities and risk management strategies.

  • FCA (Free Carrier): Involves the seller delivering the goods to a carrier or named place specified by the buyer. The seller also bears responsibility for export clearance. The risk shifts to the buyer as soon as the goods are handed over to the carrier, making it flexible for various transport modes.
  • EXW (Ex Works): Requires the buyer to collect the goods from the seller’s premises, assuming all risks and responsibilities for transportation and export clearance from that point. The buyer takes full control over the shipping logistics from the moment the goods are available for pickup.

Main Differences:

  • Delivery Point: FCA indicates a specific delivery location. This may involve delivery to a carrier or another named place, while the EXW Incoterm refers only to the pickup of goods at the seller’s premises.
  • Risk Transfer: With FCA, the risk transfers when the goods reach the specified carrier, while in EXW, risk transfers as soon as goods are available for pickup.
  • Export Clearance: In FCA, export clearance falls on the seller, whereas in EXW, this responsibility falls entirely on the buyer.

These distinctions highlight the importance of selecting the appropriate Incoterm based on the desired level of responsibility and control over the shipping process.

FCA Vs. CIF Incoterms: What’s the Difference?

Understanding the distinction between FCA (Free Carrier) and CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight) Incoterms is essential for businesses navigating international trade, as it assists in aligning shipping responsibilities and risk management effectively.

  • FCA (Free Carrier): This term requires the seller to deliver goods to a carrier or named location chosen by the buyer. It mandates the seller to manage export clearance while the buyer handles customs clearance at the destination country. With FCA, the risk transitions to the buyer as soon as the goods are handed over to the carrier or at the named location. FCA is adaptable to various transport modes, offering flexibility in logistics planning.
  • CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight): CIF is designed specifically for sea freight and inland waterways. It requires the seller to cover the cost, insurance, and delivery to the destination port. Under the CIF Incoterm, the risk transfers to the buyer the moment the goods are loaded on the ship. This term benefits buyers by simplifying insurance and freight processes, though it offers less control over shipping and insurance specifics. It also means that, just like with FCA, the buyer should be responsible for customs clearance at the destination country. In some cases, even though the seller should provide the minimum insurance coverage according to Incoterms 2020, the buyer may still decide to obtain additional coverage in order to protect his cargo during transit even more effectively.

These major differences emphasize the importance of selecting the correct Incoterm to match the shipping expectations, level of risk acceptance, and logistical capabilities of both buyers and sellers.

When Does the Risk Transfer From the Seller to the Buyer Under the FCA Incoterm?

Under the FCA Incoterm, the risk passes from the seller to the buyer at the specific point when the goods are handed over to the carrier or at the named location, as agreed upon in the contract. This transfer of risk occurs as soon as the goods are in the carrier’s possession or at the designated location, marking the buyer’s responsibility for the goods and their safe transport from that moment onward.

What Can Freight Forwarders Do for the Buyer Under the FCA Incoterm? 

Under the FCA (Free Carrier) Incoterm, buyers take on significant responsibilities in international shipping, and freight forwarders can offer valuable support to streamline the process. 

Here’s how freight forwarders assist buyers under the FCA Incoterm:

  • Providing Quotes and Booking Carriers: Freight forwarders assist buyers in securing transportation services, including both air and ocean carriers, and booking space for cargo on vessels or planes. Their expertise lies in identifying cost-effective and dependable transportation solutions suitable for various modes, ensuring a smooth shipping process.
  • Operational Management: As soon as the buyer formally assumes responsibility for the goods under the FCA Incoterm, the freight forwarding company takes charge of operational management. As a result, it enables business owners to stay focused on their core business activities while entrusting shipping logistics to experienced professionals.
  • Cargo Insurance: Under the FCA Incoterm, the buyer will be responsible for obtaining cargo insurance. In most cases, it is possible to secure it with the help of a trusted freight forwarder. This coverage offers protection against potential risks for the remaining journey.
  • Customs Clearance: At the destination country, the freight forwarder expertly manages the process of customs clearance. This includes helping the buyer with documentation, duty and tax calculations, interacting with authorities, and ensuring compliance with local regulations.
  • Advanced Tracking and Customer Support: Some freight forwarders offer advanced tracking systems alongside specialized customer support teams. This proactive approach enables shippers to stay up-to-date about their shipment’s status, seek clarification, and address concerns efficiently, which leads to effective risk management.
  • Final Delivery Coordination: Following customs clearance, the freight forwarder takes on the responsibility of managing inland transportation to deliver the cargo to its ultimate destination. This seamless transition ensures the cargo reaches its final point efficiently.

To put it simply, under the FCA Incoterm, buyers bear significant responsibilities, and freight forwarders serve as valuable partners in simplifying international trade complexities. By leveraging the services and expertise of freight forwarders, buyers can streamline their shipping operations, reduce risks, and ensure successful cargo delivery under FCA terms.


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