fca incoterm

FCA Incoterm – Simple Explanation and Examples

What is FCA Incoterm?

The FCA Incoterm, standing for “Free Carrier”, is one of the International Commercial Terms (Incoterms) specified by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). This term outlines specific responsibilities for the buyer and seller in international trade, primarily focusing on the delivery of goods. Under the FCA term, the seller is responsible for delivering the goods, cleared for export, to the buyer’s nominated carrier at a specified location. The risk and cost transfer from the seller to the buyer when the goods are delivered to the carrier.

How Does FCA Incoterm Work?

Free Carrier simplifies the responsibilities and risks in global trade logistics. Here’s a breakdown of its key elements:


Seller Duties:

  • Prepares and packages the goods appropriately.
  • Manages export customs clearance and documentation.
  • Delivers the goods to the agreed-upon location, ensuring they are ready for the buyer’s carrier.


Buyer Duties:

  • Nominates the carrier and communicates the pick-up location.
  • Bears all costs and risks from the point the goods are handed over to the carrier.

FCA Incoterm – Key Points

  • Delivery Point: This can vary from the seller’s premises to a named place such as a port, warehouse, or terminal.
  • Risk Transfer: Shifts from seller to buyer once the goods are handed over to the carrier.
  • Cost Implications: The buyer handles freight, insurance, and import customs clearance once the risk is transferred.

Relevant Examples of FCA Incoterm

Example 1: Pharmaceutical Exports

When a pharmaceutical company in Germany sells medications to a client in the United States:


Seller Responsibilities:

  1. The German seller arranges export customs clearance.
  2. Delivers the medications to a freight forwarder’s warehouse in Hamburg.


Buyer Responsibilities:

  1. The U.S.-based buyer nominates a carrier to pick up the drugs from the Hamburg warehouse.
  2. The buyer bears the risk of transporting the medications from the warehouse to their final destination in the U.S.

Example 2: Machinery Import

A Swiss company purchases machinery from a manufacturer in China:


Seller Responsibilities:

  1. The Chinese seller ensures export clearance.
  2. Delivers the machinery to a specific port in Shanghai, where the buyer’s selected shipping company takes over.


Buyer Responsibilities:

  1. The Swiss buyer’s responsibility begins once the machinery reaches the Shanghai port.
  2. The buyer arranges shipment, manages import customs clearance, and handles transportation to Switzerland.

Important Notes and Considerations for FCA

Customs Clearance

Equipped with a clear understanding of FCA, both parties can smoothly navigate customs regulations. For sellers, knowing export customs requirements is crucial. Buyers, on the other hand, must efficiently manage import customs, and having a trusted customs broker can simplify the process significantly.


Precise documentation is paramount for seamless transactions under the FCA term. Typical documents include:

  • Commercial Invoice
  • Packing List
  • Export/Import Licenses (if applicable)
  • Bill of Lading or Waybill (issued by the carrier)

Failure to provide accurate documentation can lead to delays, additional costs, and legal complications.

Insurance Considerations

Although insurance is traditionally the buyer’s responsibility under FCA, it is prudent for sellers to ensure their shipment is adequately covered till the delivery point. This mitigates risks should any discrepancies arise at the handover stage.

Choosing the Right Delivery Location

The clarity of the agreed delivery point is crucial. Ambiguities can lead to misunderstandings, additional costs, and legal disputes. Both parties should confirm the exact drop-off location and any specific on-site requirements beforehand.

FCA Incoterm Checklist

For a comprehensive understanding and efficient application of the FCA term, follow this checklist:

  1. Agree on the Delivery Location: Ensure both parties are clear about the designated handover point.
  2. Carrier Nomination: The buyer must specify the carrier and provide pick-up details.
  3. Document Preparation: The seller must prepare and present all necessary documentation for export clearance.
  4. Risk Management: Both parties should assess and manage risks associated with their respective responsibilities.
  5. Communication: Maintain open channels between all parties involved including carriers and customs brokers, to ensure a smooth transition of goods.


Understanding the FCA Incoterm is integral for companies engaged in international trade. It clearly outlines the responsibilities of buyers and sellers, particularly in terms of transportation, customs clearance, and risk management. By adhering to the FCA rules, both parties can ensure a smooth transaction and mitigate potential risks effectively.

For any assistance with your import/export needs, customs clearance, or any related documentation, contact eezyimport. Our team of experienced professionals is ready to support you through every step of your international trade journey.

FAQ: Understanding FCA Incoterm

1. What is the primary responsibility of the seller under the FCA Incoterm?

The seller’s main responsibility under the FCA Incoterm is to deliver the goods, cleared for export, to the buyer’s nominated carrier at a specified location. This includes handling the export customs clearance and related documentation to ensure the goods are ready for transport.

2. Who is responsible for the transportation cost and risk under FCA Incoterm?

Under FCA Incoterm, the buyer is responsible for the transportation costs and risks once the seller delivers the goods to the agreed-upon location. From that point on, the buyer manages all future transportation, insurance, and import customs clearance.

3. What types of documentation are needed when using FCA Incoterm?

Key documents typically required under FCA Incoterm include the commercial invoice, packing list, export/import licenses (if applicable), and the bill of lading or waybill issued by the carrier. Accurate and complete documentation is crucial to prevent delays and ensure smooth customs clearance.

Feel free to contact us for more detailed information or any specific questions regarding your import/export needs!

eezyimport is an online platform and is not a licensed customs broker. However, we work closely with a third-party licensed customs broker who can assist with any entry-related issues.

eezyimport is an online platform and is not a licensed customs broker. However, we work closely with a third-party licensed customs broker who can assist with any entry-related issues.

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