Understanding FCA Incoterms: Your Guide to Shipping

Are you puzzled by FCA, or Free Carrier, when it comes to shipping? If so, you’re not alone. FCA can be a bit perplexing, especially for first-time buyers. But fear not, because we’ve got over a decade of experience in transportation across air, land, and sea, and we’re here to unravel the mysteries of FCA for you. In this article, we’ll break down what FCA means, when you should use it, and its pros and cons. So, let’s dive in and demystify FCA incoterms.

What is FCA Incoterms?

FCA, which stands for Free Carrier, is an incoterm where the shipper carries responsibility until a specified destination is reached. This destination could be at the port, airport, consolidation center, or some other terminal. In the FCA sales contract, the transfer of delivery risks happens earlier than with most other incoterms. It’s a flexible term, but it’s essential to understand where the responsibilities shift.

When to Use FCA Incoterms?

You can employ FCA incoterms in both domestic and international trade. It’s the right choice if you are comfortable arranging local transport in the seller’s country, can deal with a freight forwarder, and handle credit payments for freight costs. You should also be able to secure a first carrier for loading your cargo at the shipping terminal.

Buyers and Sellers’ Responsibilities with FCA Incoterms

In the world of FCA, responsibilities are divided neatly between the seller and the buyer.

Seller’s Responsibilities:

  • Export and documentation tasks, particularly export clearance in the seller’s country.
  • Arranging pre-carriage delivery from the seller’s depot to the agreed port.
  • Ensuring proper export packaging and cargo condition.

Buyer’s Responsibilities:

  • Contracting the first carriage, such as a shipping line or airline.
  • Managing everything that comes after the goods arrive at the agreed destination.
  • Handling most documentation and insurance, except for export formalities in the seller’s home country.
  • Assuming responsibility for import duties and taxes in their own country.

Pros and Cons of FCA Incoterms


  • Offers better terms for inexperienced buyers compared to some other incoterms.
  • The seller remains liable until the merchandise reaches the agreed destination.
  • Available for international and domestic transactions, across all modes of transport.


  • Inexperienced buyers have more responsibility compared to other incoterms.
  • Buyer’s obligations extend beyond the agreed place.
  • Can be confusing, costly, and risky for those unfamiliar with the process.

FCA Incoterms Risks

The risks in FCA transfer from the supplier to the buyer once the cargo is loaded at the destination. If any damage occurs before this point, the supplier is responsible. However, after the buyer’s transport takes over, the buyer must cover any damages.

Example of FCA Incoterms

Consider a scenario where a buyer in the United States opts for a shipper in Shanghai under FCA incoterms. The supplier in Shanghai agrees to the FCA destination. The supplier is responsible for delivering the cargo to the buyer’s shipper, and after that point, the buyer takes over all responsibilities and risks.

FAQs about FCA

  1. Who Pays Freight with an FCA Incoterm Agreement?
    • In FCA, the buyer covers freight expenses, while the supplier manages export documents and delivery costs to the designated location.
  2. What is the Difference Between FCA and FOB?
    • FCA places the liability earlier, with the buyer covering loading costs upon arrival at the warehouse or consolidation center, whereas in FOB, the supplier handles loading costs.
  3. Where Can I Learn About Other Incoterms?
    • You can explore various incoterms on Ningqu by using the search bar on our page.
  4. How Does Free Carrier (FCA) Work?
    • Suppliers prepare export documents and deliver the cargo to a designated place chosen by the buyer, after which the buyer takes over all shipment responsibilities.

What’s Next

In FCA incoterms, responsibilities shift to the buyer early in the process. If you’re uncertain about handling the risks and costs associated with shippers, freight forwarders, and documentation, you might want to consider other trade terms like FOB or CIF. Ningqu has assisted numerous clients in choosing the right trade terms, ensuring safe and cost-effective cargo delivery.

Product Enquiry