How to Use Delivery at Terminal: A Comprehensive Guide to DAT Shipping Responsibilities

December 6, 2023
12 min read

Key Points

  • Incoterms, first introduced in 1936, serve as the foundational regulations for global trade, and DAT is an integral term within this framework that simplifies complex trade agreements.

  • In a DAT agreement, the seller manages everything from initial transport and documentation to cost coverage, concluding with the offloading of goods at the terminal.

  • For the buyer, responsibilities under DAT begin once the goods are unloaded at the terminal, including import formalities, financial obligations, and subsequent logistics to the final destination.

  • Bezos offers a strategic advantage in navigating DAT agreements, providing a global network, tailored solutions, and a transparent, flexible engagement model.


You've recently secured a significant deal with an overseas buyer, and the anticipation is electric. However, the world of international trade is rife with complexities, and a misstep in the shipping process could dent your profit margins. This is precisely where Incoterms come into play, serving as the universal language governing freight and shipping. Among these terms, "Delivery at Terminal," or DAT, stands out as a crucial concept that demands a comprehensive understanding from both buyers and sellers. 

In this in-depth guide, we will explore DAT in detail, demystifying its components and providing actionable insights. Whether you are a seasoned trader or a newcomer to the international market, grasping DAT can be the key to facilitating smoother and more profitable transactions.

The Evolution of Incoterms

Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of DAT, let's first understand the broader context in which it operates: Incoterms. These universally accepted regulations were first introduced by the International Chamber of Commerce in 1936. Over the decades, they've been revised multiple times to keep pace with the complexities of global trade. Incoterms serve as the bedrock for worldwide contracts, clarifying the roles, risks, and responsibilities for both buyers and sellers. 

So, where does DAT fit into this dynamic ecosystem? As an integral component of the Incoterms lexicon, DAT provides a clear framework for managing the logistics and financial aspects of shipping goods to a specific terminal. It's a term that has gained prominence for its ability to simplify complex trade agreements, making it easier for parties on both sides to know exactly what's expected of them.

What Is Delivery at Terminal?

Now that we've set the stage with a brief history of Incoterms let's focus on DAT itself. 

This term signifies an agreement where the seller delivers merchandise to a designated terminal. Once the items reach this point, the buyer assumes control, handling all subsequent logistics and formalities. DAT is particularly beneficial for air and sea shipments, offering a balanced distribution of obligations between the involved parties.

DAT Under Incoterms 2020

In the latest Incoterms revision, DAT has been renamed to Delivery at Place Unloaded (DPU). This change broadens delivery options beyond terminals to include other locations like factories. Despite the new name, key elements like risk transfer and financial responsibilities remain unchanged. Both terms can coexist during a transition period, but updating contracts to reflect the new terminology is advisable.

The Seller's Journey: Navigating the Path to the Terminal

This section outlines the key milestones you'll encounter when operating under a DAT agreement as a seller. From initial transport to the pivotal moment of risk transfer, here's what you need to know:

  • Initial Transportation: The journey begins with moving the merchandise from its starting point, often a warehouse, to the designated terminal. This could involve a variety of transit options, such as trucks or ships.

  • Documentation: Preparing and submitting all required export paperwork falls under the seller's purview. This includes customs declarations and shipping manifests.

  • Cost Coverage: All expenses related to transporting the goods to the terminal are the seller's responsibility. This encompasses transit fees and any export duties that may apply.

  • Offloading at Terminal: As the goods are taken off the transport vehicle at the terminal, the financial and legal risk associated with the merchandise transfers from the seller to the buyer.

  • Notification: Once the merchandise is ready for pickup, the seller informs the buyer. This usually involves sharing tracking details or delivery confirmations.

  • Potential Pitfalls: Until the goods are unloaded, the seller bears all risks of loss or damage. Therefore, securing appropriate insurance is advisable.

The Buyer's Path: From Terminal to Final Destination

Once the goods arrive at the designated terminal, the baton is passed to the buyer. This transition marks a new phase in the transaction, one that comes with its own set of tasks and responsibilities. Here's a detailed look:

  • Terminal Pickup: The first step for the buyer is to collect the goods from the terminal. This involves coordinating with the terminal's operations to ensure a smooth pickup.

  • Import Formalities: After taking possession, the buyer must handle all import-related documentation. This could include customs declarations, import licences, and payment of duties.

  • Financial Obligations: Import duties, taxes, and any other levies are the buyer's responsibility. These costs are in addition to the purchase price of the goods.

  • Subsequent Logistics: Post-pickup, the buyer arranges for the goods to be transported to their final destination. This could be a warehouse, retail outlet, or any other location where the goods are needed.

  • Risk Management: From the moment the goods are picked up, the buyer assumes all risks related to transportation. This includes potential damage or loss during the journey to the final destination.

  • Quality Check: Upon arrival at the final destination, it's advisable for the buyer to inspect the goods for quality and accuracy, ensuring they meet the agreed-upon specifications.

  • Communication: Keeping an open line of communication with the seller is crucial. Confirming the receipt and condition of the goods helps in closing the transaction loop.

DAT vs. DAP: A Simplified Comparison

Choosing between DAT and Delivery at Place (DAP) can have a big impact on your international trade operations. While they may appear similar at first glance, these Incoterms have distinct differences that can influence the entire transaction. Below is a table that delves deeper into these critical distinctions:

Delivery LocationStrictly to a terminal, such as a port or warehouse.Any location agreed upon by both parties.
Unloading DutyThe seller must unload the goods at the terminal.The buyer takes care of offloading.
Risk TransferRisk moves to the buyer once goods are offloaded.Risk shifts when goods are ready for unloading.
Cost VariabilityCosts are generally more stable and predictable.Costs can fluctuate based on the chosen location.
Import ClearanceImport duties are usually managed at the terminal.Buyer has flexibility in handling import duties.
Storage CostsStandardised fees at the terminal; buyer's duty if delayed.Depends on the location, usually the buyer's duty.

Elevate Your International Trade Experience With Bezos

When it comes to mastering the complexities of international trade agreements like DAT, the right logistics partner can be your ace in the hole. Meet Bezos, a UK-based fulfilment juggernaut that's not just a service but a strategic asset for your eCommerce business.

A Global Network With Unmatched Precision

Bezos transcends traditional logistics with a network that spans not just Great Britain but extends to 16 additional countries. This global reach ensures your goods navigate international terrains with ease and efficiency.

Bespoke Solutions for Sophisticated Needs

Unlike one-size-fits-all logistics providers, Bezos offers a suite of tailored services. Our automated systems and flexible service options are designed to make your import or export process as seamless as possible.

Unwavering Commitment to Transparency and Excellence

In an industry where clarity is often elusive, Bezos offers a refreshing level of transparency. Our advanced fulfilment software keeps you in the loop with real-time shipment tracking, and we're committed to addressing your queries within a two-hour window.

Future-Proof Flexibility

Concerned about long-term commitments stifling your business growth? Bezos offers the agility of contract-free engagement, allowing you to adapt your logistics strategy as your business needs evolve.

If you're in pursuit of a logistics partner that matches your own commitment to excellence, look no further. Contact Bezos today to consult with our team of savings experts and discover how we can redefine your experience with international trade.


With this comprehensive guide at your fingertips, you're now well-equipped to master the nuances of DAT in international trade. As you strategise your next global shipment, remember that you're not navigating these waters alone. Bezos stands as your steadfast ally, offering solutions that are finely tuned to your specific needs in the ever-changing landscape of international logistics.


What are the key responsibilities under a DAT agreement?

In a DAT agreement, the seller is responsible for transportation, offloading at the terminal, and all export documentation. The buyer, on the other hand, takes over after the goods are offloaded, handling import documentation, duties, and further transportation.

How does Bezos ensure transparency in shipping?

Bezos uses advanced fulfilment software that provides real-time tracking of your shipment. Additionally, we commit to addressing any queries or concerns within a two-hour window, offering an unparalleled level of customer service.

What happens if goods are damaged upon arrival at the terminal?

Under a DAT agreement, the risk transfers from the seller to the buyer once the goods are unloaded at the terminal. Therefore, any damage occurring after unloading is the buyer's responsibility. Bezos offers real-time tracking to help both parties monitor the condition of the goods throughout the journey.

What if the buyer fails to collect the goods on time?

If the buyer fails to collect the goods promptly after they have been offloaded at the terminal, they may be liable for any additional costs, such as storage fees, incurred as a result.

Can the seller arrange for import clearance under DAT?

No, under a DAT agreement, the buyer is responsible for import clearance, including all duties, taxes, and other charges. The seller's responsibility ends once the goods are unloaded at the specified terminal.

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