Incoterms: A Guide for Amazon FBA Sellers

Incoterms are like a guidebook for shipping goods to Amazon warehouses. They help clarify who’s responsible for what in the process. Whether you’re dealing with suppliers from overseas or closer to home, Incoterms make things easier to understand. They’re not as complicated as they might seem at first glance. Let’s break down Incoterms in straightforward language so you can navigate your product shipments smoothly and avoid any surprises along the way.



What are Incoterms?

Incoterms (International Commercial Terms) are a standardized system developed by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). They clarify responsibilities of buyers and sellers in international trade transactions. Incoterms define:

  • Delivery point: Where the seller hands over the goods (e.g., factory, port)
  • Cost allocation: Who pays for transportation, insurance, and customs duties.

Incoterms and Amazon

Amazon doesn’t directly deal with incoterms, but they’re crucial when sourcing products from overseas suppliers.  Understanding incoterms helps you negotiate clear agreements with suppliers and avoid surprises later.

Key Incoterms for Amazon Sellers

  • EXW (Ex Works): You (the buyer) are responsible for everything from picking up the goods at the supplier’s location to getting them to Amazon’s fulfillment center. This gives you the most control over costs, but requires arranging all transportation and customs clearance.
  • FOB (Free on Board): The responsibility shifts to you once the goods are loaded onto the chosen mode of transport at the origin port. You handle everything from there.
  • DDP (Delivered Duty Paid): The supplier takes care of everything – transportation, insurance, and customs clearance – delivering the goods to the Amazon fulfillment center. This is the simplest option but often the most expensive.

To effectively navigate Incoterms in product sourcing, consider the following best practices:

  1. Understand Your Business Needs: Evaluate your business’s capabilities and limitations to determine which Incoterms align best with your operations.
  2. Communicate Clearly: Clearly communicate your chosen Incoterms with your supplier or trading partner to ensure a mutual understanding of responsibilities, costs, and risks.
  3. Consider Insurance: Depending on the Incoterm chosen, consider purchasing insurance to protect against potential losses or damages during transportation.
  4. Negotiate Payment Terms: Based on the chosen Incoterm, negotiate payment terms that align with your cash flow and risk management strategies.
  5. Maintain Documentation: Keep accurate records of all transactions, including contracts, invoices, and shipping documents, to ensure compliance with regulations and facilitate dispute resolution if necessary.

Choosing the Right Incoterm for FBA Shipments

  • DDP for Direct Shipments: If you’re using a courier service for small parcels directly to Amazon, DDP is the way to go. Amazon won’t handle customs fees.
  • EXW or FOB for More Control: If you have experience with freight forwarding or can negotiate better rates, consider EXW or FOB. You’ll arrange transportation and customs clearance, potentially saving on costs.


Incoterms only define responsibilities, not the price or payment method. Negotiate a clear agreement with your supplier that specifies the chosen incoterm and any additional costs. Moreover, By understanding incoterms, you can navigate international sourcing for your Amazon FBA business with greater confidence and potentially save money.

Schedule a free consulting session for guidance or clarity in using the incoterms, getting the best freight rates, or ensuring proper shipment prep as per Amazon FBA requirements.

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