CIF vs FOB: Difference and Comparison

The expansion of trade and commerce has unlocked a window of possibilities. It is the mother that led to discoveries as well as war.

Decades have passed by, but the spirit of business only glows brighter. Our lives are, in a way, entwined with it, and we must enhance our understanding of the concepts.

CIF and FOB play pivotal roles in today’s world.

Key Takeaways

  1. CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight) includes the cost of goods, insurance, and all transportation charges to the destination port, while FOB (Free on Board) covers only the cost of goods and transportation to the departure port.
  2. Under CIF terms, the seller assumes responsibility for goods until they reach the destination port. In contrast, under FOB terms, the buyer takes responsibility once the goods are loaded onto the shipping vessel.
  3. CIF leads to higher overall costs for the buyer, including insurance and additional transportation expenses.

CIF vs FOB

The difference between CIF and FOB is that while both happen to be shipping agreements of an international level governing the transportation of goods from the seller to the buyer, the former is a shipping agreement that is quite expensive as the seller charges a price for the forwarder which in turn increases his profits, the latter governs the aspects that ensue after the goods are shipped.

CIF vs FOB

CIF is a term that one in the commercial world must be acquainted with. It stands for Cost, Insurance, and Freight.

It is regarded as an expensive agreement. This is because, in this shipping agreement, the seller charges a price for the forwarder, which in turn increases his profits.

On the other hand, FOB is not very expensive from a buying point of view. It stands for Free on Board.

This shipping agreement governs the aspects that ensue after the goods are shipped. In other words, these contracts relieve the seller from his liabilities after the goods have been shipped. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonCIFFOB
Full formsCost, Insurance, and FreightFree on Board
Responsibility of SellerThe seller’s responsibility continues through and through, and he is also responsible for finding a ship.In this case, the responsibility of the seller comes to a halt the moment the items are loaded or shipped.
ShippingThe seller is the one who is entrusted with the responsibility of booking a ship to deliver the goods.The buyer is the one who is responsible for finding a ship to get his items delivered.
InsuranceThe seller signs an insurance contract that has an almost 100% insurance coverage policy.The insurance on products is not a contract that the seller signs.
Risks of DamagesThe seller bears the loss.The buyer bears losses.

What is CIF?

It stands for Cost, Insurance, and Freight. If you look at the name, several aspects governing this shipping agreement become quite clear.

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Here, the shipping costs are borne by the seller rather than the buyer, which makes it so expensive. A lot of the time, the seller uses a forwarder.

This is a scheme to raise his profit margins as the forwarder. He uses the seller’s choice and can easily opt for the expensive one.

The second word is Insurance, even if you are a little worried about the costs you will incur on availing of this shipping agreement. The insurance policy might change your mind to an extent.

The seller signs an insurance contract with an almost 100% insurance coverage policy. However, it is pertinent to note that sometimes the buyer.

You may have to pay certain additional charges, such as the amount incurred for docking the ship at a port. The fees that are incurred at customs clearance.

The seller’s responsibility continues through and through, and he is also responsible for finding a ship. Along with this, the loss of the damaged products is on the seller to be borne.

What is FOB?

This stands for Free on Board. The name gives a slight hint of what the shipping agreement might be like.

In this agreement, the responsibility of the seller comes to a complete halt after the goods have been put on the ship and have set sails to be delivered. Thus, this is why it is known as Free on Board.

Because it gives the impression that once the goods are set to be delivered (shipped), the seller is free from all responsibilities, it is quite popular because it is not as expensive as CIF.

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Here, the seller cannot use his forwarder, which will raise his profit margin. The buyer has to find and book a ship that will transport and deliver his goods.

Even though one can save a lot on transportation costs, one should ponder if this is the agreement they wish to enter into. This is because the buyer is responsible for booking the ship.

And also ensuring that the goods are delivered to him in one piece. Once the goods board the ship, the seller’s responsibilities are extinguished.

No insurance policy governs this transaction either. Along with this, the seller has no responsibility after the goods have boarded the ship and bear no losses for damaged products in the case of FOB.

Main Differences Between CIF and FOB

  1. While CIF is an acronym for Cost, Insurance, and Freight, FOB is the acronym for Free on Board.
  2. Where CIF takes a considerable degree of the burden off the buyer’s shoulders and entrusts it upon the seller, in FOB, the buyer’s responsibilities are several.
  3. CIF ensures that the seller signs an insurance contract with an almost 100% insurance coverage policy. In contrast.
  4. The insurance on products is not a contract that is signed by the seller in the case of FOB.
  5. The seller is the one who books a ship to ship the ordered items to the buyer in CIF. On the other hand, in FOB, the seller does not assume this responsibility, but the buyer has to fix the ship. 
  6. The seller in the case of CIF bears all losses incurred due to damaged products. In contrast, the seller has no responsibility after the goods have boarded the ship and bear no losses either in the case of FOB.
References
  1. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Soledad-Zignago/publication/267385035_International_Transportation_Costs_Around_the_World_a_New_CIFFoB_rates_Dataset/links/5527ce490cf2779ab78abb8d/International-Transportation-Costs-Around-the-World-a-New-CIF-FoB-rates-Dataset.pdf
  2. https://www.elgaronline.com/view/edcoll/9781786436146/9781786436146.00019.xml

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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17 thoughts on “CIF vs FOB: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The article is a valuable resource for individuals seeking to enhance their knowledge of international trade and shipping agreements. It’s a comprehensive and informative piece that offers a nuanced understanding of the topic.

    Reply
    • Indeed, the detailed comparison and comprehensive analysis of CIF and FOB are notable highlights of this article. It equips readers with a deep understanding of the complexities involved in international shipping.

      Reply
    • I couldn’t agree more. The article’s precision in elaborating on the specifics of CIF and FOB terms makes it an indispensable reference for industry professionals and enthusiasts alike.

      Reply
  2. The detailed explanation of CIF and FOB terms allows for an in-depth understanding of the complexities involved in international trade. A valuable read for those seeking to expand their knowledge in this area.

    Reply
    • Absolutely. With the intricate interplay of costs, insurance, and responsibilities, this article sheds light on the multifaceted nature of international shipping agreements.

      Reply
    • Indeed, the emphasis on the nuanced differences between CIF and FOB is a commendable aspect of the article. It provides a comprehensive view of the obligations and liabilities of both parties involved.

      Reply
  3. The article fails to acknowledge the environmental impact of international shipping and the need for sustainable practices in the industry. It should address these critical issues to provide a more holistic view.

    Reply
    • I see your point, but let’s remember that the article specifically addresses CIF and FOB shipping terms. It’s essential to stay focused on the intended scope of the content.

      Reply
    • Valid point. While the focus is on the financial and logistical aspects, the environmental considerations of international shipping are indeed significant and merit inclusion in the discussion.

      Reply
  4. The article delves into the complexities of CIF and FOB terms, presenting a wealth of information on the subject. It’s a meticulous and thorough examination of the international shipping landscape.

    Reply
  5. This article is a comprehensive and enlightening summary of CIF and FOB terms in international shipping. It provides a clear and thorough explanation of both terms, allowing readers to gain a full understanding of the topic.

    Reply
    • I couldn’t agree more. The article’s detailed information and clear comparisons make it easy to comprehend the key differences between CIF and FOB. It’s a valuable resource for anyone involved in international trade.

      Reply
  6. The article is overly complicated and verbose. It should present the information in a more concise and straightforward manner for improved clarity and reader engagement.

    Reply
    • Actually, the complexity of the article contributes to the depth of understanding it provides. A topic as intricate as international shipping terms demands a comprehensive exploration.

      Reply
  7. The article effectively dissects the intricacies of CIF and FOB terms, offering a meticulous examination of the responsibilities, costs, and insurance aspects. It’s an insightful piece for those involved in global trade.

    Reply
    • Precisely. The in-depth exploration of the differences between CIF and FOB reflects the high standards of analytical rigor and intellectual depth evident throughout the article.

      Reply
  8. I found the comparison table particularly helpful. It succinctly outlines the differences between CIF and FOB, making it easier to grasp the nuances of each shipping agreement.

    Reply

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