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Freight & Shipping

  1. CIP
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  3. Cash on Delivery
  4. Advance Payment

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Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF): Definition & Overview

Updated: February 6, 2023

Do you regularly take part in international trade or deal with foreign entities? There are lots of rules and regulations that surround what you can ship, how you can ship it, and where you can ship it to. 

Cost, insurance, and freight is a specific agreement that was developed to help buyers and sellers. Want to learn more? Keep reading to learn all about cost, insurance, and freight. We’ll cover what it is and how it works. Plus, we’ll go into the different responsibilities buyers and sellers have, and more. 

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    • Cost, insurance, and freight (CIF) is an international shipping agreement that relates to goods that are shipped via ocean, sea, or waterway. 
    • The seller covers any freight, insurance, and costs of the buyer’s order while it’s in transit
    • The buyer of the product takes on the responsibility for the costs of importing and reliving the goods once it has arrived at the destination port.
    • Buyers end up taking ownership of the goods once they begin transport and must file a claim with the seller’s insurance company if anything is damaged during transit.

    What Is Cost, Insurance, and Freight (CIF)?

    Cost, insurance, and freight (CIF) is an outlined international shipping agreement. It breaks down the charges that are paid by a seller to help cover all the freight, insurance, and costs for a buyer’s order when the cargo is in transit. 

    The agreement only applies to the goods that are transported via the ocean, sea, or waterway. When a buyer purchases goods that require this transportation, they are exported to the port that’s outlined in the sales contract. 

    The key distinction, however, is that all of the costs of potential loss or damage to products are taken on by the seller. This is until the goods are delivered to the destination port. As well, if the product ends up being subject to export paperwork, inspections or rerouting, or additional customs duties, the seller will also have to cover these extra expenses. 

    That all said, once the product reaches the buyer’s port of destination, they would then take on the responsibility and costs associated with unloading and delivering the product to its final destination. 

    In many ways, CIF is very similar to carriage and insurance paid to (CIP), but it only relates to exports needing to use the sea or waterways. Whereas CIP relates to any potential mode of transport, like by a truck for example.

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    Use of Cost Insurance, and Freight (CIF): Seller’s Responsibilities 

    The agreement and contract terms of cost, insurance, and freight dictate the liability requirements of the goods in transport. Within this, it also outlines the seller’s responsibilities for their portion of the journey. 

    Some of the seller’s main responsibilities include the following: 

    • Providing any relevant or required inspections for the goods in transit
    • Any packing costs that are needed to export the cargo 
    • Any costs, such as charges or fees, for loading and shipping the goods to the seller’s port destination
    • Purchasing any export licenses that are required for the product to arrive at the seller’s port
    • The cost of insuring the cargo and the shipment until it reaches the buyer’s port of destination 
    • Covering any costs that are associated with potential damage or destruction of the goods in transit
    • Any relevant fees or costs associated with duty, taxes, or customs clearance 
    • The total cost of shipping the cargo from the seller’s port to the buyer’s port of destination 
    • The requirement to deliver the goods and cargo within an agreed-upon timeframe 
    • The requirement to provide accurate and relevant proof of loading and delivery

    Use of Cost Insurance, and Freight (CIF): Buyer’s Responsibilities 

    After the cargo has arrived at the buyer’s destination port, this is when they would take on responsibility. This can include costs associated with importing the goods and delivering them where they need to go. 

    Some of the buyer’s main responsibilities include the following: 

    • The need to unload the product or cargo once it arrives at the port terminal 
    • After the product is unloaded, it needs to be transferred within the terminal and arrive at the delivery site 
    • Any customs or duty charges that are associated with the importation of the goods 
    • Any charges associated with unloading, transporting, and delivering the goods to their final destination
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    Transfer of Risk

    It’s always important to be aware of the risks associated with shipping internationally. Depending on the type of shipping agreement between the buyer and the seller, there can be various risks and costs that can be associated. 

    However, under the CIF agreement, the risk transfer comes at a different time and point compared to the cost transfer. All of these details will be outlined in the contract, and they will specify when the liability of the goods will transfer from the seller to the buyer. 

    The seller ends up paying all of the insurance, freight, and shipping costs up until the product arrives at the buyer’s destination port. Once it arrives, the cost transfer occurs. Yet, the risk transfer doesn’t occur until after the cargo has been loaded onto the vessel. 

    This is the case even though the seller needs to purchase the insurance. The buyer will still have ownership of the goods once they’re loaded, and if they end up being damaged while in transit the buyer will have to file a claim with the insurance company of the seller. 

    CIF vs Free on Board (FOB)

    The main difference between CIF and FOB relates to the specific part that is responsible for the cargo while it is in transit. With CIF, the seller is liable for the goods. With FOB, the buyer is responsible. 

    Advantages and Disadvantages of CIF

    In terms of advantages, the CIF technique is less expensive than other ways for importing products. When renting a full ship for the carriage of products, it is more affordable to employ the CIF import method (FCL).

    It is crucial to select and employ the proper mode of transportation while conducting international business and shipping cargo in order to avoid incurring losses. The extra shipping fees between the seller and the buyer can be minimized by using the CIF method.

    There are also a number of disadvantages. One of this method’s drawbacks is the cost difficulty. Additionally, charges could be a little higher than anticipated because of variations in shipping restrictions in some nations. 

    Hidden costs are another name for these extra expenses. It should be remembered that the prices for certain services can exceed what you had originally estimated and budgeted.

    When Should You Use CIF?

    A mission to move cargo from one location to another involves a lot of expenses. These expenses must be agreed upon by the buyer and seller, and one side is required to pay them. One approach for determining who must pay these kinds of payments is CIF. CIF refers to the delivery of commodities on the deck of ships in the maritime transport industry.

    In this manner, the seller is frequently responsible for all charges, including insurance, contract costs, delivery costs, and insurance. The seller transports the items to the closest port, loads them onto the appropriate ship, and then sails them to the buyer’s location.

    Examples of CIF 

    Let’s use an example where an electronics retailer orders 1,000 computers. They order from a manufacturer utilizing a CIF agreement to be delivered to a foreign port. Delivering the order to the port, the manufacturer then loaded the goods onto the ship for transportation. 

    Once loading is complete, the store assumes the risk of loss rather than the customer. In exchange, the customer has paid for insurance and freight fees up until the ordered items arrive at the buyer’s port of destination.


    Cost, insurance, and freight (CIF) is an international shipping agreement. It outlines the responsibilities of both the seller and the buyer of various goods. In the agreement, it covers the responsibility when it comes to areas such as freight charges, the cost of shipping, and insuring the cargo. 

    The seller of the goods is responsible for any costs associated with transportation and also must purchase relevant insurance to protect from damaged goods. Once the cargo has reached the port of destination, the buyer will assume the responsibility. 

    It’s worth understanding that CIF varies from cost and freight (CFR), which has similar responsibilities, but the seller doesn’t have to purchase marine insurance. There can be many different types of international shipping agreements. 

    These can include cost, insurance, and freight (CIF), cost and freight (CFR), and free on board (FOB). Because of this, it’s always important to ensure that the buyer and seller both understand any relevant legal terms that are included in the agreements.

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    FAQs About Cost, Insurance, and Freight (CIF)

    What Is the Insurance Coverage Percentage in CIF?

    Since the seller is responsible for all the transportation up until it reaches the port of destination, they must purchase insurance. Typically, the insurance that needs to be obtained must cover 110 percent of the total value of the cargo. 

    What Is CIF and CIP?

    CIF relates to the value of goods sold up until the port of destination. CIP relates to the carriage and insurance that’s paid up until the port of destination.

    What Is the Difference Between CIF and CPT?

    CPT means carriage paid to, and CIF means the cost, insurance, and freight that is paid up until the destination that’s mentioned.

    Freight & Shipping

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