Carriage Paid To (CPT) Incoterms: Everything You Need to Know

December 6, 2023
12 min read

Are you an eCommerce business owner grappling with the complexities of international shipping? Do you find terms like "CPT Incoterms" bewildering? You're not alone. Understanding these concepts can save you time, money, and legal headaches. Plus, it's crucial for anyone involved in international trade.

Read on to demystify CPT Incoterms and learn how Bezos can help you streamline your logistics.

What Is CPT Incoterms?

Incoterms, short for International Commercial Terms, are a set of rules that define the obligations of buyers and sellers in international trade. These stipulations are pivotal for ensuring smooth and efficient transactions between parties from different countries. 

One of the most commonly used Incoterms is CPT, which stands for Carriage Paid To. It outlines the responsibilities, risks, and costs associated with the shipping and delivery of goods from the seller’s location to the buyer’s destination. By clearly defining the role of each entity, CPT Incoterms help to minimise disputes and misunderstandings that can arise during the course of a transaction.

These are the main components of CPT:

  • Initial Transport Costs: The seller bears all costs until the goods are handed over to the first carrier. This includes packaging, documentation, and transportation.

  • Export Licenses and Permits: Beyond arranging and covering the cost of initial transport, the seller is also obligated to secure any export licenses or permits that may be required for the goods to leave the country of origin.

  • Essential Documentation: The seller must furnish the buyer with all necessary documents, such as the bill of lading or airway bill, to enable them to claim the goods upon arrival at the designated location.

  • Named Place: This is the destination to which the seller arranges transport. It is essential to specify this in the contract to avoid ambiguity.

  • Risk Transfer Point: The moment the goods are handed over to the first carrier, the risk transfers from the seller to the buyer. This includes any damage, loss, or additional costs from this point forward.

  • Import Licenses and Permits: The buyer is required to obtain any import licenses or permits necessary for the goods to enter the destination country.

  • Customs Duties and Taxes: Any customs duties, taxes, or other charges levied on the goods upon arrival are also the buyer's responsibility.

Advantages of CPT Incoterms for eCommerce Businesses

Mastering the nuances of CPT Incoterms can offer eCommerce businesses distinct advantages, whether you're a seller looking to optimise your supply chain or a buyer aiming for cost-effective procurement. 

From the Seller's Perspective

Simplified LogisticsSellers only need to focus on the initial leg of the shipping journey, making logistics easier to manage. This is particularly beneficial for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that may not have extensive capabilities in this area.
Cost ControlSince the seller arranges and pays for the initial transport, they have better control over these costs. This allows for more accurate pricing and budgeting.
Reduced LiabilityRisk transfers to the buyer once goods are handed over to the first carrier, reducing the seller's liability.
Export ComplianceSellers are responsible for obtaining necessary export licenses and permits, ensuring compliance with trade regulations.

From the Buyer's Perspective

Defined CostsBuyers know upfront that the seller will bear initial shipping expenses, aiding in the total cost of ownership for the goods.
Risk AssessmentUnderstanding the point at which liability transfers from the seller to the buyer allows for better risk assessment and management, including the decision to purchase insurance.
Import ControlResponsibility for import licenses and customs duties gives buyers control over this aspect of shipping.
Flexibility in Carrier SelectionAfter the initial handover, buyers have the flexibility to choose subsequent carriers, optimising the remaining journey.
Time EfficiencyWith the seller handling initial shipping, buyers can concentrate on core business activities like marketing and sales.

Common Pitfalls in CPT Incoterms and How to Avoid Them

While CPT Incoterms provide a structured framework for shipping responsibilities and risks, they are not without their pitfalls. For eCommerce businesses, these can translate into unexpected costs, logistical hiccups, or even legal complications. Therefore, it's imperative to be aware of the common challenges that come with them.

Terminal Handling Charges

Terminal Handling Charges (THC) are fees levied by the terminal operator for services such as unloading, handling, and storing goods at the terminal. Many businesses assume that the CPT price includes all charges, only to be surprised by additional fees later on. 

Hence, it is essential to always inquire explicitly whether the CPT price includes THC. If it doesn't, you may need to negotiate these charges separately or prepare for the additional cost.


Buyers often overlook the need for insurance, assuming that the seller's responsibilities cover this aspect. However, the seller is not obligated to insure the goods during transit. This misconception can lead to significant financial losses if the goods are damaged or lost.

Buyers should proactively arrange for insurance coverage for the main carriage. This is particularly crucial when shipping high-value or fragile items. Certain insurance providers offer policies specifically designed for international shipping, providing comprehensive coverage.

Lack of Clarity on Specifics

Failing to clearly define the place of delivery and destination can lead to disputes about where the seller's responsibility ends and the buyer's begins. Always specify these important aspects in the contract to eliminate any ambiguity.

Legal Compliance and Regulations

Non-compliance with legal requirements can result in delays, penalties, or more serious consequences. Ensure you're aware of and comply with all legal obligations. This includes obtaining necessary export licenses and paying any customs duties or taxes.

Additional Tips

Given below are some additional advice and recommendations:

  • Clear Communication: Maintain open lines of communication with all involved parties to clarify any ambiguities.

  • Legal Advice: Consult with legal experts familiar with international trade laws to review your shipping contracts.

  • Due Diligence: Perform due diligence on your shipping partners to ensure they are reputable and reliable.

  • Documentation: Keep meticulous records of all communications, invoices, and shipping documents.

Why Bezos Is Your Go-To Solution for CPT Incoterms

Navigating the labyrinth of international shipping can be daunting, especially when dealing with complex Incoterms like CPT. That's where Bezos comes in, your full-service fulfilment provider designed to simplify your eCommerce logistics. With operations across the UK, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, we offer a seamless solution for SMEs looking to scale.

Here's why choosing Bezos is a decision you won't regret:

  • Time-Saving: Bezos’ clients save one to five hours a day on logistics tasks. Imagine what you could do with that extra time – focus on marketing, product development, or even take a well-deserved break.

  • Cost-Effective: You can save £1 to £2 per order and up to 80% on international orders. These savings are crucial when dealing with the added costs that can come with CPT Incoterms, such as THCs.

  • Risk Mitigation: Our proprietary AI system swiftly identifies and addresses any logistics bottlenecks or inefficiencies, automatically taking corrective steps or offering solutions to prevent them from becoming major issues for your business.

  • Transparency: Through Bezos' intuitive portal, you get real-time tracking of inventory and end-to-end order visibility. No more guesswork or unpleasant surprises.

  • Global Reach: Planning to expand your business internationally? We have you covered with 63 fulfilment centres in 17 countries and 109 last-mile delivery services.

  • Customer Support: With the support of a dedicated account manager and a ticket response time of under two hours, you can rest assured that your orders are in safe hands.

Don't let the complexities of CPT Incoterms hold back your eCommerce growth. Choose Bezos for a hassle-free, cost-effective, and reliable fulfilment solution.

Get your free quote today!


Understanding the nuances of CPT Incoterms is crucial for any eCommerce business involved in international shipping. From clearly defining responsibilities between the buyer and seller to navigating common pitfalls like THCs and insurance, a deep grasp of these terms can help you save time, money, and potential legal headaches.

If you're looking for a reliable partner to navigate the complexities of CPT Incoterms, look no further than Bezos. With our cutting-edge technology, global reach, and unparalleled customer support, we offer a one-stop solution for all your eCommerce fulfilment needs.

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