The Incoterms® rules are issued by the privately organised International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and are regularly updated to reflect current developments.
The Incoterms® clauses (International Commercial Terms) are a set of international rules defining specified commercial terms in foreign trade. The Incoterms® regulate the essential buyer and seller obligations, especially in cross-border transactions. In this way, contracting parties obtain an internationally uniform interpretation of certain obligations of buyers and sellers. This helps to avoid misunderstandings and legal disputes.
Business people from all countries have been using the Incoterms® rules for more than seven decades. First published by the ICC in Paris in 1936, the seventh revision of this set of rules was published in September 2010. They have been revised by experts and practitioners from the international and national ICC membership base. The new version will come into force on 1 January and will thus replace the Incoterms® 2000.
The ICC Incoterms® rules are now universally recognised at international level and endorsed by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL). They are recognised by the respective national courts. However, they do not have the status of law, i.e. they must be explicitly included in the respective contract to ensure their validity. In the USA, too, the Incoterms® clauses are increasingly being used; here, people had relied on their own rules for many years.