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What are Incoterms® rules?

ICC’s Incoterms® rules are the world’s essential terms of trade for the sale of goods. Whether you are filing a purchase order, packaging and labelling a shipment for freight transport, or preparing a certificate of origin at a port, the Incoterms® rules are there to guide you. The Incoterms® rules provide specific guidance to individuals participating in the import and export of global trade on a daily basis. Incoterms® is a registered trademark of ICC to protect the intellectual property rights contained in this resource. The Incoterms® Rules (International Commercial Terms) are a set of international Rules defining specific trade terms in foreign commerce. They state the responsibilities of buyers and sellers, especially for cross-border transactions, and provide the parties with an internationally consistent interpretation of their obligations, thus helping to avoid misunderstandings and litigation.


Who publishes the Incoterms® rules?

Since its founding in 1919, ICC has been committed to the facilitation of international trade. Different practices and legal interpretations between traders around the world necessitated a common set of rules and guidelines. As a response, ICC published the first Incoterms® rules in 1936. ICC has been maintaining and developing them ever since. As ICC celebrates its Centenary in 2019, the world business organization is pleased to announce the preparation and publication of Incoterms® 2020. This newest edition of the Incoterms® rules will help prepare business for the next century of global trade.

Why use Incoterms® rules in international trade?
Although other clauses for global trade exist around the world, such as the Harmonised Tariff Schedule of the United States, Incoterms® rules are global in their reach. Similarly, Incoterms® rules do not include trade terms codified for national purposes, such as the “less than truckload shipping” (LTL) rule of the United States. Unlike national trade policies, Incoterms® rules are universal, providing clarity and predictability to business.


When were ICC’s Incoterms® rules last updated?
ICC last updated the Incoterms® rules in 2010. Incoterms® 2010 is still in effect today and can be bought here.


Incoterms® 2020:
The Incoterms® 2020 are now released and will enter into force on 1 January 2020.

Incoterms® 2010 will remain in effect for those using them.


Incoterms® 2020 Mobile Application
Access to essential information of the rules will be made easier than ever via a dedicated Incoterms® 2020 mobile application, to be made available on IOS and Android.
Within the app, users can access a wide variety of informative features, including latest news updates, event information and training opportunities. Unlike other ICC resources, the Incoterms® rules app also offers users with the ability to contact verified experts. These experts can provide real-time advice on the most pressing Incoterms® rules questions facing your enterprise.
Are you suffering from poor internet connection? No problem. Given the ever-changing nature of today’s global economy, ICC has made several of the application’s features available offline, including a digital version of Incoterms® 2020. Therefore, if you are travelling on the high seas, or stuck inside a port with poor WIFI, the Incoterms® rules application will still be there to guide you.


Introducing “smartINCOs”: the next generation of the Incoterms rules
As part of its global efforts to embrace the use of technology as a key driver of transformation for international trade, ICC with support from Perlin, a Singapore-based distributed ledger technology company, will develop customisable, self-executing digital sales agreements, incorporating the new Incoterms® rules. This incorporation of smartIncoterms® rules, or smartINCOs, will help facilitate trade by reducing costs and barriers faced by importers and exporters worldwide , notably micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
The platform will utilise sensor data and application programme interfaces (APIs) to prompt triggers for self-execution, sustainability, and other environmental, social and governmental (ESGs) performance indicators to improve trade facilitation.




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