CIF in Shipping Terms: Which Shipping Term Fits Your Business?

CIF in shipping terms is a crucial part of international trade agreements. Such terms have been in use for the last several thousand years, created to establish a clear border between a buyer and a seller.

CIF in Shipping Terms


They are a source of legal knowledge on the important issues of shipping, serving as a medium for clear communication and mutual responsibility.

Now, let’s gain insight into what CIF means, what buyers’, and sellers’ responsibilities are, and under what circumstances we should use a CIF contract.

What Does CIF in Shipping Terms Mean?

CIF is a Shipping Incoterm that implies three things: CIF, whereby the seller will be responsible for all these, including cost, insurance, and freight.

The seller is responsible for the cargo and may have to pay for its transportation until it is shipped and insured for the duration of the voyage.

When it comes to CIF Incoterms the seller bears the costs of transport and insurance which is when the goods are on board the ship.

In the case of an exporter, the seller owns the goods when they are safely loaded onto the vessel.

Therefore, the seller must be ready to bear the costs of the cargo including the expenses for the delivery of the goods until they are dropped off at the port of their destination.

CIF only stipulates seaway or waterway shipping and excludes other forms of transportation. Sea shipment or waterway shipping mostly applies to full container loads.

CIF means the seller pays for everything – the goods, shipping, and insurance. FOB just means the seller covers loading the goods onto the ship.

CIF Incoterm Seller’s Obligations

These are a few CIF Incoterm seller’s obligations;

1. Packaging and Labeling: Make sure that you pack your things tightly and write the labels on them to avoid any problems during the shipment.

2. Export Documents: Beyond this, you’ll deal with all the export invoices and other supporting documents for customs clearance.

3. Export Licenses and Customs: By the destination you are intending to move to, you may have to apply for special permits, and you will then have to clear customs.

4. Transportation: You have to draw up the packing list, obtain the necessary documentation, and prepare the goods for shipping from your origin destination to the port of departure.

5. Loading Fees: The costs of loading your goods will have to be additional if the transportation vehicle is one that you will have to load by yourself.

6. Delivery at Destination Port: Imply if it will be delivered at the port of destination or to a specific address.

7. Proof of Delivery: In this way, you will be sure your goods have been delivered safely as the receipt will act as a confirmation.

8. Insurance: Getting the right kind of insurance with the best coverage during the transportation stage.

CIF Incoterm Buyer’s Obligations

A CIF Incoterm buyer’s responsibilities include;

1. Paying for Goods: You’ll be required to pay the cost of the goods within the purchase agreement.

2. Transportation After Unloading: Book for the outward movement of your goods after their unloading.

3. Customs Clearance and Taxes: Complete the required documents and pay any import duty as well as customs.

4. Budget for any customs fees required to clear your goods and any inspections that your goods must pass before shipment.

What are the Buyers and Sellers’ Responsibilities with CIF Agreements?

CIF in Shipping Terms

The buyers and sellers responsibilities with CIF agreements are;

Sellers Responsibilities

In CIF, the seller undertakes the obligation to see the cargo out of the country and to have it aboard the vessel.

The seller’s job isn’t simply to load the product onto a container. Their full responsibilities include:

1. Export Packaging: Containerizing of the cargo along with necessary documentation and customs clearance. On some occasions, exporting countries claim certain marks for their goods and packages.

This party is responsible for ensuring that the exporting of the cargo is done with dignity.

2. Loading Charges: Any expense arising in moving the goods onto the first carrier from the warehouse of the seller.

3. Delivery to Port/Place: All transport charges levied to deliver the cargo from the seller’s warehouse to the port.

4. Export Duty, Taxes & Customs Clearance: All customs costs applicable to the export of the cargo. The responsibility of the broker company is to cover customs checks and any additional fees.

5. Origin Terminal Charges: This refers to the handling charges that are done at the loading port.

6. Loading on Carriage: The loading of freight on the vessel is also included in the charges.

7. Carriage Charges: The freight figure incurred transports the shipment from the port of loading to the destination port.

Buyers Responsibilities

The buyer’s responsibilities are as follows: 

1. Destination Terminal Charges: Also referred to as Destination Handling Charges or DTHC, these costs encompass unloading and transferring the cargo within the terminal.

2. Delivery to Destination: Organizing the logistics to move the cargo from the port to the final delivery destination. 

3. At the delivery destination, you’ll incur any costs for unloading the cargo from the truck.

4. Import Duty, Taxes & Customs Clearance: All import requirements, including customs clearance, duty, and taxes.

In the event of a customs examination or issue with the importation, this party is responsible for rectifying the problem. 

What Circumstances Should You Use a CIF Agreement?

It is in this instance that a CIF agreement is applicable.

1. Use CIF Incoterms only for transportation by sea or waterway.

2. For those who have never done importing before, CIF may be a good option.

Since it allows them to get an idea about the importing process before they need to learn the export process.

3. However, keep in mind that the fees will be significantly higher than if you choose to handle it yourself.

By turning to a specialized freight forwarder to help you find the most affordable way to ship your goods.

CIF in shorthand represents the basic requirement in shipping in international trade.

This framework helps to ensure the smoothness of trading between the buyers and sellers. It has provided the parties with a long-term roadmap of evolution.

Making the CIF agreement clear-cut, encouraging cooperation, and fulfilling the commitments of the parties.

Through the CIF and its impact knowledge, businessmen can face the complicatedness of international trade with a high degree of confidence.

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