Incoterms Definitions Part 1: EXW, FCA, FAS, FOB

 In EXW, FAS, FCA, FOB, incoterms

incoterms_sign1Last week we posted the introduction of this blog series on Incoterms. There you’ll find a general explanation of the form and function of these beauties. Now we are on to the meat of it – a list of the first 4 Incoterms, along with an expansion of the abbreviation and a detailed explanation of who pays and who assumes risk.These first 4 are arranged in order of increasing cost and risk to the seller. These 4 terms cover 2 groups: Group E – Departure and Group F – Main carriage not paid by seller.

Group E abbreviations start with E and cover departure of goods. Group F abbreviations all start with an F and are characterized by the main costs being covered by the buyer.

Click here for an incoterms quick reference guide from your friends here at UCM, but then head on back to this page for the detailed explanation of the terms.

Incoterms Definitions - Group E - EXW - Universal Shipping News

1. EXW: Ex (Latin for out of or from) Works; i.e. goods available from the place of production.

Definition: EXW is usually followed by a place name[1], such as EXW Portland and means essentially that the seller will make the goods available to the buyer at a specified place, i.e. the seller’s premises/warehouse/works/factory, and at a specified time. This fulfills the seller’s obligations – leaving the buyer to load the goods onto whatever transportation has been arranged, clear the goods for export, and bear all the risk during transport.

Caveat: Alternate arrangements can be made, such as the seller agreeing to load the goods and assume the risks of such loading, etc. Any such deviation must be made explicit in the contract.

Note:  When getting an initial price quote for goods, you are usually quoted the price for an Ex Works arrangement, that is, the price of the goods not including shipping, loading, insurance or any of the other costs likely to apply.[2]  Therefore, Ex Works translates into the arrangement carrying the minimum obligation and risk for the seller and the maximum obligation and risk assumption for the buyer. Ex Works applies exclusively to air, rail, road, and containerized/multimodal transport.[3]

Incoterms Definitions FCA, FAS, FOB - Universal Shipping News

2. FCA: Free Carrier

Definition: FCA is usually followed by a place name – the initial destination of the goods, FCA Anchorage for example. Not surprisingly, this term is also referred to as “named place delivery”.  Under the terms of FCA, it is the seller’s obligation to hand the goods over to the first carrier at the named place once they have been cleared for export. Using our earlier example, the seller would have fulfilled their obligation once the goods had been cleared for export and delivered from the seller’s warehouse (let’s say) to the carrier waiting at the port of Anchorage. At this point the buyer assumes the risks and costs of any further transport executed by the first carrier.

Note: Sometimes, no specific place of delivery is where the goods will change hands and be delivered into the hands of the carrier within the range specified in the contract.[4] FCA represents an incremental increase in the cost and obligation to the seller over the EXW arrangement. Because the seller owns the good right up to delivery, FCA arrangements allow the seller to resell the goods to someone else while the goods are still in transit. Free Carrier applies exclusively to air, rail, road, and containerized/multimodal transport.[5]

3.FAS: Free Alongside Ship

Definition: Free Alongside Ship means what it sounds like, that the seller must transport the goods all the way to the dock, close enough to be reached by the crane of the ship it will be transported in.[6] Also it is the seller’s responsibility to clear the goods for export (this is an innovation from the 2000 version of Incoterms, when buyers had to take care of port fees)[7]. FAS is usually followed by a place name, for example FAS San Francisco. The place name indicates the port where the goods are to be delivered on the quay beside the carrier ship.

Note: Not surprisingly, FAS applies exclusively to maritime and inland waterway shipping. However it does not apply to goods packaged in shipping containers. FAS is instead usually used for goods sold as bulk cargo, such as petroleum products or grain.[8]

4. FOB: Free Onboard Vessel

Definition: Free Onboard Vessel is sort of a hybrid, where the seller is obligated to bring the goods all the way to the port, clear the goods for export, AND see that they are loaded onto the ship nominated by the buyer. Once the goods clear the railing of the vessel the buyer assumes the risk.[9] FOB is often followed by the named loading port thus: FOB Long Beach, meaning the seller delivers the goods, pays the port fees, and sees the goods loaded onto the ship docked (in this case) at the port of Long Beach.

Note: This Incoterm is used exclusively for maritime and inland waterway transport but not for container shipping.[10]

Well, that’s all for now. Next time we will continue with group C Incoterms – Main carriage paid by seller!

Go to Part 2 for definitions of Group C Incoterms.

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Source: Incoterms

Showing 15 comments
  • Nerissa Añora

    Good Morning!

    I may be slow in learning but once things are explained to me further I learn and does not depart from it:)

    Under Exworks and FOB terms, what particular charges are paid by the Shipper and what would paid by the Consignee.

    Needs your help.


    • Hannah Engel

      Hi Nerissa! Our Incoterm Quick Reference Guide can help explain which charges will be paid by the shipper (seller) vs. the consignee (buyer). You can check it out here.

  • Dillip Kumar Agrawal

    Hi ,

    When the terms is exw , shipper won’t pay anything ,all the cost will be bear by consignee from shipper factory or shipper warehouse till destination .

    When the terms fob , shipper is responsible for below

    1- transport from his factory or warehouse to port

    2- export custom clearance

    3- terminal handling charges

    4- documention

    5- weighment of cargo

    In fob terms consignee is responsible

    1- ocean freight from port to port

    2- destination charges till his warehouse

    Hope the above is sufficient to clear your doubts , if any kindly advice , we will happy to assist.

    Dillip Kumar Agrawal
    Senior executives in logistics
    Chennai – India

  • romeo rogtao

    Goods morning sir

    If terms Ex works- is it responsibility of shipper for handling origin custom Custom documentation and other formalities Dangerous goods handling procedure ?



    • Hannah Swainston

      Hi Romeo,

      It is the responsibility of the buyer to handle origin customs charges and other formalities.


  • Melyssa

    Can anyone tell me what DSUR incoterm stands for?

    • Hannah Engel

      Hi Melyssa,

      I’m not familiar with that Incoterm. Please click here to view a list of current incoterms and their definitions.


  • Selina L


    With my current company, we are based in the US, have a factory in China, and our client is in the US. Currently, we do not have Incoterms in place with our client. We have a 3PL and plan from factory door to our clients warehouse. We have been shipping under DDP as we initially pay all the fees associated (freight, tax, duty)because we previously quoted the shipping on the original PO to the client. Our 3PL suggests we should ship either EXW or FOB to maximize our profits.

    If we were to ship via EXW or FOB, would we still be able to manage the shipment with our 3PL all the way through until delivery to the clients warehouse? Would our 3PL then just bill the client for the remainder of the fees we are not responsible for?

    Thank you for your time!

    • Hannah Swainston

      Hi Selina,

      Yes, if you shipped EXW or FOB, you could still manage the shipment to your client’s warehouse.
      The forwarder or broker could work with your customer directly for customs related issues and fees.


  • Mary


    What are the responsibilities of the consignee under FCA terms?


  • Shamkumar Dange

    Can please any one explain regarding the trade term CPT

  • Tomoaki Watanabe


    Is there anyone who is familiar with trading with Chinese ? Our cargoes are now on the way to Japan now. The arrival notice in our possession
    shows FAF + YAS JPY55,200.- Our trade terms is CIF and I trust these chareges shall be born by shipper when it comes to CIF terms.
    I am not quite sure if my understanding is correct or not. But at least I have been told by our forwarder that shipper should pay them in case
    of CIF terms.

    Chinese shipping companies seem to charge Japanese importers on purpose these fees. Appreciate kind advice from somebody.

  • Gift Ampaire

    I was asked 4 inconterms in the F class,could there be more apart from FCA,FOB and FAS?

  • Wesley Jew

    Gift, that covers everything in the F group. For a quick reference guide, you can download a copy here:

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