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Incoterm –

Free Carrier (FCA)


Free Carrier (FCA) is an Incoterms 2020 term that entails that the seller must load the merchandise onto the buyer’s designated transportation at their premises or deliver the goods to another specified location.

The buyer arranges a transport service to collect the merchandise from the seller’s warehouse. The risk associated with the goods is transferred to the buyer at this juncture. The seller must ensure the loading of the goods onto the buyer’s transportation.

On the other hand, the buyer may request the goods to be delivered at another premises location, such as a third-party warehouse or carrier’s terminal. Therefore, the risk and liability are fully transferred to the buyer once the goods become available at the designated location. The onus of unloading the goods from the seller’s transportation still falls upon the buyer.

Regardless of the chosen arrangement, it is incumbent upon the seller to appropriately package the goods by the terms specified in the mutual agreement between both parties. Furthermore, the seller bears the responsibility for executing export clearance procedures.

Choosing Free Carrier

  • If the buyer frequently acquires containerized merchandise and maintains a dependable logistics partner.
  • If the buyer’s logistics partner can provide a more cost-effective solution than the seller can offer.
  • If the buyer is thoroughly knowledgeable about the procedures and documentation regarding the seller’s side.
  • If the seller favors FCA over FOB or FAS, choosing FCA mutually benefits both parties.

Understanding the Responsibilities

Seller’s Responsibilities: Under the FCA Incoterms, the seller’s primary responsibility is to manage the entirety of the export procedure and make available for the goods to load on the desired first carrier. 


The seller must prepare the goods according to different origin's export packaging standards.

Loading Charges

When the goods depart from the seller's site, the seller is responsible for expenses encompassing any charges related to placing the cargo onto the initial carrier for its journey to the export location.

Delivery Charges

The seller is responsible for transporting goods to the agreed export location, including the fees involved in the process.

Duties, Taxes, and Custom Clearances

The seller is responsible for the export procedure, including the documentation preparation, expenses, and other examination processes.

Buyer’s Responsibilities: Once the customs clearance process is completed and goods are ready at the agreed location, buyers then take on comprehensive responsibilities, which include:

Duties, Taxes, and Custom Clearances

The buyer is responsible for the import procedure, including the documentation preparation, expenses, and other examination processes.

Loading and Unloading Charges

The buyer must cover charges for cargo loading at the origin collection point and unloading at the destination from the final carrier.

Terminal Charges

The buyer is responsible for expenses at origin and destination terminals, including fees for unloading shipment from the destination vessel and transporting it within the harbor.

Carriage Charges

The buyer is responsible for covering all freight costs, specifically from the port of origin to the destination.

Transportation Charges

The buyer is accountable for the transportation charges from the point of the destination port to the final stop.


While not obligatory, the buyer may opt to secure insurance for the shipment to protect against potential damages.

Pros and Cons for Buyers

Navigating the intricacies of international trade demands careful consideration of Incoterms. Free Carrier (FCA) is a versatile choice with distinct advantages and disadvantages; by grasping the nuances of FCA, businesses can make informed decisions in the dynamic realm of global commerce.

Shifted Responsibility

FCA places some responsibility for export formalities on the seller, offering the buyer a more favorable risk distribution than EXW.

Cost Efficiency and Competition

FCA enables the buyer to streamline costs and solutions from the point of origin to the final stop. It also allows them to choose FCA when assured that their selected shipping service provider can provide more competitive loading expenses than the seller.

Transportation Control

Buyers can manage various aspects of transportation after goods are exported.

Additional Work Burden and Charges

FCA requires extra steps at the port of origin, making buyers responsible for terminal and loading costs, potentially leading to inefficiencies in issue resolution. The variety of agreed dropped-off locations also could cause extra charges for sellers to deliver the goods.

Limited Applicability and Lack of Distinctiveness

Due to its complexity, the International Chamber of Commerce recommends FCA primarily for containerized shipments. Moreover, the distinction between EXW and FCA becomes relatively minor if goods are not transported directly from the factory to the carrier.

Experience Required

Free Carrier is often best when both buyer and seller have experience, making FCA less advantageous if unfamiliar to either party.

Seeking assistance from a 3rd party logistics or freight forwarder when dealing with FCA terms can better ensure smooth export processes and minimize risks.