Meaning of FOB

What is FOB:

FOB is an abbreviation that corresponds to the initials of the phrase in English "Free on board " which in Spanish means "Free on board", and belongs to the list of Incoterms (international terms of trade).

As such, FOB is a sales agreement used in international trade to refer to the conditions, rights and obligations that exist for both the buyer and the seller.

In particular, the expression "free on board" means that it is the seller's obligation to bear the expenses and costs of moving the merchandise to the port of origin or port closest to the seller or producer, except for insurance expenses. and freight, which means that once the merchandise arrives at the ship, the responsibility for it is transferred to the buyer.

It is important to highlight that the term FOB must be used solely and exclusively for those transactions in which the means of transport is a ship, that is, the transfer of the merchandise can be carried out by sea or river, since on some occasions it is erroneously used to express about transfers made by air or rail.

The parties involved in an international sale must take into account the use and handling of Incoterms since they will determine the obligations, duties and responsibilities of each of them. When we are in the presence of the FOB Incoterm it is to highlight that the transfer of risk and responsibility of the merchandise occurs once it is on board the cargo ship.

Suppose that a merchandise sold under the FOB incoterm suffers some damage before being on board the ship, then the seller will be responsible for said damages and will have the obligation to replace the merchandise to be transferred to its port of destination, but if the loss or Damage to said merchandise occurs after being boarded on the ship, the responsibility is solely and exclusively the buyer who must insure it to transfer it to said insurance company.

In Mexico, the chamber of commerce is responsible for the publication of the international trade terms: Incoterms, however all those people and professionals who have to do with international trade activities must have knowledge of these.


The difference that exists between these two Incoterms is evident, but what really differentiates FOB from CIF is that in the second, the freight and insurance of the merchandise is the responsibility of the seller, with which, it is understood that once the Merchandise to the port of destination is when the responsibility of this is transferred to the buyer, which is completely different from FOB.

The acronym CIF corresponds to the expression "Cost insurance and freight " which in Spanish means "cost, insurance and freight".

You can read more about the CIF Incoterm here.


FAS is an acronym in the English language that means "Free alongside ship " which in Spanish means “frank lying down on the ship”. In these two terms that belong to the terms of international trade, a small difference is evident. In relation to the FAS, the seller ends his obligations once he places the merchandise alongside the ship, transferring the risk of loss or damage to the buyer at that time, which in FOB only occurs when it is on board the ship .

If you are interested in the meaning of logistics, press here.

Tags:  General Expressions-Popular Science