FOB Shipping Point: Meaning and Comparison with FOB Destination

keyKey Takeaways:
  • FOB shipping point designates the precise moment ownership and responsibility shift from the seller to the buyer, streamlining international shipping transactions.
  • Under FOB shipping point, sellers handle loading and transportation to the FOB point, while buyers take charge of carrier selection, freight costs, and insurance post-loading.
  • FOB shipping point offers greater control, clear transfer points for ownership and risk, transparent cost division, and minimizes the seller’s risk after shipment.

Navigating the vast oceans of global commerce can be tricky waters to sail. With the expansion of international trade, businesses around the world face the challenges of shipping products vast distances across borders.

This is where FOB shipping terms come in as an essential compass for businesses engaging in international trade. 

FOB, which stands for Free On Board, is a vital delivery term published by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). The term designates when responsibility transfers from seller to buyer during transit. 

Specifically, FOB shipping point indicates that the buyer assumes responsibility the moment goods are loaded for departure.

But how can understanding FOB shipping point help you streamline your global shipping operations? 

In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about FOB shipping point.

You’ll learn how FOB shipping point impacts ownership and risk transfer, divide costs between buyers and sellers, and affect your accounting practices.

What is FOB Shipping Point?

FOB Shipping Point (Free On Board Shipping Point), also known as FOB origin, is a term used in shipping agreements to specify the moment when ownership and responsibility for goods transfer from the seller to the buyer.

In the FOB shipping point, ownership shifts from the seller to the buyer when the goods are loaded onto the carrier at the point of shipment. The buyer is then responsible for transportation, including selecting the carrier, covering freight costs, and obtaining transit insurance. 

Specifically, the FOB shipping point has the following key elements:

  • The seller must deliver the goods to a named port, carrier, warehouse, or other shipment point agreed upon in the sales contract. This is the FOB point.
  • The seller bears all transportation costs and risks involved in getting the goods to the FOB shipping point and loading them onto the buyer’s carrier.
  • The seller handles any export clearance procedures if the goods are being shipped abroad.
  • Ownership and risk transfer from the seller to the buyer occur as soon as the goods are loaded and accepted by the buyer’s carrier at the FOB point.
  • The buyer pays for and arranges the main cargo transportation from the FOB point onward and assumes costs and risks from that point.
  • The buyer is responsible for insuring the goods during transit between the FOB point and the final destination.

Let’s understand this concept with an example.

FOB Shipping Point Example

Let’s look at an example to understand how FOB shipping point works in practice:

Say a company in China, Beijing Traders, sells electronics to a buyer in the USA, American Retail Inc. They negotiate a purchase order for the sale of 2,000 tablets at a unit price of $100 USD.

The agreed terms are FOB Shipping Point Shanghai Port. This means Beijing Traders must deliver the 2,000 tablets to Shanghai Port and load them on the ship arranged by the buyer, American Retail Inc.

At what point does ownership of the goods transfer? 

As soon as Beijing Traders loads the 2,000 tablets onto the ship at Shanghai Port, the ownership transfers from them to American Retail. The risk of damage or loss also transfers to American Retail at this FOB shipping point.

The main points to keep in mind here are:

  • From Shanghai Port, it is American Retail’s responsibility to arrange and pay for shipping to the US and make sure the goods are insured during international transit. 
  • Beijing Traders’ duties end once the tablets are securely loaded on the ship at the port.
  • If 50 tablets were damaged during shipping between Shanghai Port and the US, American Retail cannot hold Beijing Traders responsible. 
  • The buyer assumes liability for the risk once the goods are shipped from the FOB shipping point.

Clearly defining the FOB shipping point in the sales contract removes ambiguity about when ownership and risk transfer. This enables a smooth handover between seller and buyer at the point of shipment origin.

Key Responsibilities Under FOB Shipping Point

For international shipping to go smoothly and effectively, it is essential that you understand the primary responsibilities outlined in FOB shipping point agreements.

So, let’s break down the responsibilities of both the seller and the buyer in this arrangement: 

1. Seller Responsibilities

Under Free On Board (FOB) shipping point, the seller has the following key responsibilities:

  • Deliver goods to the named shipment point: The seller must deliver the goods to the port, carrier, or exact shipment point named in the sales contract.
  • Handle loading of goods: The seller must load the goods onto the buyer’s designated carrier at the shipment point. This includes securely loading the cargo and providing proper documentation.
  • Bear transportation costs and risks: The seller pays for all transportation costs and bears the risks involved in getting the goods to the agreed shipping dock. They are liable if any loss or damage occurs before arrival.
  • Handle export procedures: If shipping internationally, the export procedures fall under the seller’s responsibilities. The seller must handle any required export customs clearance, documentation, compliance with export regulations, and other processes before the goods depart.

2. Buyer Responsibilities

The buyer takes on the following responsibilities under a FOB shipping point agreement:

  • Arrange their own carrier: The buyer is responsible for arranging and selecting the carrier that will transport the goods from the named shipment point to the final destination.
  • Provide shipping details to the seller: Effective communication is key. The buyer needs to provide comprehensive shipping details to the seller. It includes all necessary shipping instructions, documentation, and import details for clearing customs and delivery.
  • Bear freight costs and risks after shipment point: Once the goods are loaded onto the buyer’s carrier, the buyer assumes both the costs and risks associated with the further transportation of the goods. The buyer pays for the main transport costs from the FOB point onwards. They are also liable for any damage/loss after goods are loaded and shipped.
  • Procure transit insurance: While in transit from the shipment point to the final destination, the buyer may choose to procure transit insurance to mitigate risks. It is typically the buyer’s responsibility to ensure the goods are protected during the shipping process.

Clearly understanding these responsibilities enables a smooth transition between the parties at the handover point and avoids misunderstandings. 

Why Use FOB Shipping Point?

Choosing FOB (Free On Board) shipping point as the basis for international shipping agreements offers several advantages for both buyers and sellers. 

Let’s delve into the reasons why businesses opt for FOB shipping point and the benefits associated with this shipping arrangement:

1. Greater control over transportation

FOB shipping point puts the buyer in the driver’s seat once goods are loaded at the origin port or shipment point. With the FOB shipping point option, buyers have increased control over the transportation process. 

From selecting the carrier to deciding on the shipping route, buyers have the control and flexibility to make strategic choices that align with their business needs.

2. Clear transfer point for ownership and risk

FOB shipping point designates a specific point—the shipment point—where ownership and risk transfer from the seller to the buyer. 

This clarity streamlines the shipping process and minimizes ambiguities regarding responsibility.

3. Seller handles pre-shipment activities

Under FOB shipping point terms, the seller assumes the responsibilities associated with preparing the goods for shipment. This includes loading the products onto the buyer’s carrier and covering the costs up to the shipment point.

The seller does not take on the risks and duties associated with the voyage itself. Their duties end at the shipment point.

4. Transparent cost division

FOB shipping point defines a clear division of costs between the seller and the buyer.

Sellers are typically responsible for expenses related to transporting goods to the shipment point, while buyers take over the costs beyond this point.

5. Minimizes seller’s risk after shipment

Once the goods are loaded onto the buyer’s carrier at the shipment point, the risks associated with transportation shift to the buyer. This minimizes the seller’s exposure to potential risks or issues during the later stages of shipping.

6. Optimized for certain business models

FOB shipping points is particularly advantageous for businesses with specific operational models. 

For instance, businesses that prioritize controlling the shipping process or those with established relationships with reliable carriers may find FOB shipping point beneficial.

What is the Difference Between FOB Shipping Point and FOB Destination?

To understand the difference between FOB shipping point vs FOB destination, let’s first define each term:

FOB shipping point: As we discussed earlier, in FOB shipping point, the seller fulfills their obligation by delivering the goods at an agreed shipping point. From this moment onward, the buyer assumes ownership, bears the risks during transit, and covers associated transportation costs.

FOB destination: In FOB destination, the seller remains responsible for the goods and associated costs until they reach the buyer’s specified location. Unlike FOB shipping point, the transfer of ownership and risk occurs upon successful delivery of the goods to the buyer’s destination.

Now that you understand what these two Incoterms mean let’s explore the key differences between FOB shipping point vs. FOB destination:

Criteria FOB Shipping Point FOB Destination
Ownership and liability transfer Transfers to the buyer when goods are handed over to the carrier at the shipment point. Transfers to the buyer upon successful delivery to the final destination.
Seller’s responsibility for transportation costs The seller retains liability for paying transportation costs until the shipment point is reached. The seller covers transportation costs until the goods arrive at the buyer’s designated destination.
Control over the shipping process Provides buyers with more control over carriers and shipping routes. Sellers retain control over the freight shipping process until goods reach the buyer’s destination.
Timing of revenue recognition Revenue is recognized by the seller when goods are loaded onto the buyer’s shipping vessel or carrier. Revenue is recognized when goods reach the buyer’s specified FOB destination point.
Risk exposure The buyer assumes risks during transit after goods are loaded onto their carrier. The seller bears risks until the goods are delivered to the buyer’s destination.

Accounting Implications of FOB Terms

Understanding the accounting implications of Free On Board (FOB) terms is vital for businesses engaged in international trade. 

FOB terms influence when buyers and sellers pass FOB shipping point journal entries and record transactions in their ledgers, impacting financial reporting and inventory management. 

Here’s an analysis of the accounting implications associated with FOB terms:

Accounting Implications FOB Shipping Point FOB Destination
Recording the Sale The seller completes or records the sale when goods are shipped. This influences the valuation of inventory, as the goods in transit are considered part of the buyer’s inventory. The seller records the sale upon the goods’ arrival at the buyer’s designated receiving dock. Sellers continue to carry the inventory costs until the goods are delivered.
Recording Inventory The buyer records goods as inventory upon shipping from the origin point. The buyer adds goods to inventory upon receipt and acceptance at the final destination.
Recognizing Costs The buyer recognizes transportation costs from the shipping point as the buyer’s inventory cost. The seller books transportation costs to the destination as costs of goods sold.
Reporting Revenue The seller reports revenue earlier, as the sale is recorded at the shipping point. The seller reports revenue later, upon delivery to the buyer’s location.

Special Considerations and Other FOB Terms

Beyond the fundamental concepts of FOB shipping point and FOB destination, there are several specific FOB terms that businesses may encounter in their shipping agreement. 

Let’s delve into these terms for a comprehensive understanding:

1. FOB shipping point, freight prepaid

Under this arrangement, the buyer assumes the risk at the point of origin. Despite the seller covering shipping costs, the ultimate responsibility and risk for the products rests with the buyer.

2. FOB shipping point, freight prepaid and charged back

In this scenario, the seller pays for shipping, but the buyer retains responsibility once the goods are at the point of origin. The seller intends to bill the customer back for freight shipment payments, which may be added to an existing invoice or presented separately.

3. FOB destination, freight collect

Even though the buyer pays for shipping costs, the seller retains ownership of the goods during transit. The seller remains responsible for the goods until they reach the destination.

4. FOB destination, freight collect and allowed

The “and allowed” phrase indicates that the seller adds shipping costs to the invoice, and the buyer agrees to pay, even if the seller manages the shipment. The buyer pays for the shipment, but the seller remains responsible for the goods until delivery.

Each of these terms carries distinct implications for ownership, liability, and costs in the supply chain. 

So, clarity in FOB terms ensures smoother transactions, accurate accounting, and effective management of the international shipping process. 

Understanding Incoterms in International Shipping

Incoterms, short for International Commercial Terms, play a pivotal role in providing a standardized framework for international trade. 

These terms, last updated by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in 2020, encompass 11 internationally acknowledged Incoterms. These standards outline the respective responsibilities of buyers and sellers during export transactions. 

Notably, some Incoterms are designed exclusively for sea transport, while others are versatile enough for any mode of transportation.

So, let’s delve into these sea shipping Incoterms to gain an understanding of their roles in facilitating global trade.

Incoterms for Ocean and Waterway Transit:

  1. FOB (Free on Board): Seller delivers goods to a named port and loads them onto the buyer’s loading dock or ship. The title of the goods transfers at this point.
  2. FAS (Free Alongside Ship): Primarily used for bulk cargo transactions, FAS dictates that sellers must deliver goods to a vessel for loading. The buyer assumes responsibility for bringing the goods onboard.
  3. CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight): CIF involves the seller agreeing to pay for the delivery of goods to the destination port, along with providing minimum insurance coverage for the goods during transit.
  4. CFR (Cost and Freight): CFR, or Cost and Freight, signifies that the seller arranges and pays for the costs of shipping but not for insurance. The buyer assumes the risk of losses once the goods are onboard.

Incoterms for Varied Transportation Modes:

  1. EXW (Ex Works): Under EXW, the seller prepares the goods for shipping, and the buyer becomes responsible for further freight transport arrangements from that point.
  2. FCA (Free Carrier): FCA obligates the seller to deliver goods to a specified location or carrier where the buyer assumes responsibility for transit.
  3. CPT (Carriage Paid To): CPT involves the seller paying for the delivery of goods to a shipment carrier or designated location, assuming risks until the carrier takes possession.
  4. CIP (Carriage and Insurance Paid To): CIP dictates that the seller pays for the delivery and insurance of goods to a carrier or designated location, ensuring coverage until the carrier assumes possession.
  5. DAP (Delivered at Place): DAP signifies the seller’s agreement to be responsible for bearing risks and costs to transport goods to a location specified in the sales contract.
  6. DPU (Delivered at Place Unloaded): DPU implies that the seller covers risks and costs to deliver and unload goods at the buyer’s premises.
  7. DDP (Delivered Duty Paid): DDP dictates the seller for shipping goods to the buyer, covering all shipping, export, and import duties and taxes.


The FOB pricing point is the specific location where ownership and responsibility for goods transfer from the seller to the buyer during shipping.

The buyer pays for the freight cost in the FOB shipping point agreement from the designated shipping point onwards.

The seller pays for freight costs until the goods reach the buyer’s specified destination in FOB destination agreement.

The two primary types of FOB are FOB shipping Point and FOB Destination.

FOB status signifies the point in international shipping where ownership and responsibility for goods transfer from the seller to the buyer.

No, FOB and delivered are different terms. FOB specifies the point of ownership transfer, while delivery involves goods reaching the buyer’s destination.

FOB refers to the point of ownership transfer, while price encompasses the overall cost of goods, including manufacturing and additional freight charges.

Disadvantages may include increased responsibility for the buyer after the FOB point and potential complexities in coordinating international shipments.

Benefits FOB shipping point include clear ownership transfer, control over transportation, and defined cost division between buyers and sellers.

Goods in FOB shipping point are owned by the buyer once loaded onto the freight carrier at the origin point.

The opposite is FOB Destination, where the seller remains responsible for goods until they reach the buyer’s destination.

An alternative could be other Incoterms like CIF, EXW, or DAP, depending on the desired distribution of responsibilities.

Unloading costs typically fall under the responsibility of the buyer in FOB delivery.

FOB (Free On Board) puts more responsibility on the buyer after goods are loaded, with the buyer covering costs and insurance. CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight) involves the seller handling both transportation and insurance costs until the goods reach the destination port.

No, FOB does not mean free shipping. It signifies the transfer of ownership at a specific point but doesn’t necessarily include the cost of shipping.

Strengthen FOB Shipping by Optimizing Your Routes

Navigating the complexities of international shipping is a challenge, and understanding terms like FOB shipping point is crucial in ensuring efficient freight movement. With global trade on the rise, optimizing your delivery routes becomes paramount.

This is where route optimization technology like Upper comes in. Upper utilizes data-driven insights and cutting-edge tools to streamline delivery routes and enhance logistics. Its advanced algorithm maximizes efficiency and cost-savings in your supply chain.

Real-time driver tracking, customer notifications, proof of delivery, and seamless integration with existing systems make Upper a comprehensive solution. So, try Upper’s and experience a faster, more reliable, and cost-effective movement of goods across your logistics operations.

Author Bio
Rakesh Patel
Rakesh Patel

Rakesh Patel, author of two defining books on reverse geotagging, is a trusted authority in routing and logistics. His innovative solutions at Upper Route Planner have simplified logistics for businesses across the board. A thought leader in the field, Rakesh's insights are shaping the future of modern-day logistics, making him your go-to expert for all things route optimization. Read more.