DAP Incoterms: A Comprehensive Guide

Our guide dives into DAP, explaining what sellers and buyers need to do, how DAP is flexible for different transportation methods, and its fit with third-party logistics (3PL) services. We also compare DAP to other terms like DDP and DDU, looking at how costs, risks, and practical use differ. With the right approach, DAP smooths out deals between trade partners, making sure sellers get paid and buyers get their goods as expected.
DAP shipping Incoterms

Table of Contents

According to experts, global trade is expected to bounce back in 2024 from a 3% decline in the previous year. These promising statistics show that it’s high time for anyone to enter this industry and make their mark. 

However, before stepping into the market, the first thing you should do is to understand international trade terms and rules. It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned trader or a beginner. 

In international trading, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has set 11 Incoterms that define how goods are moved in and out of borders. Of those, Delivered at Place (DAP) controls the movement of goods across borders, defining the responsibilities of each party involved. 

Launched in 2010, DAP aims to make global trade smoother with safe customs dealing, order fulfillment, and risk and clearance management. It works for all the transportation methods available: sea, air, road, or rail. Here is a detailed look at this Incoterm.

Incoterms General Table,DDP, FOB, DAP, EXW, CIF, FCA, FAS,CFR, CTP, CIP, DAT

What is DAP

DAP is a global trading Incoterm that outlines the roles and needs of the two parties involved in a transaction: the seller and the buyer. It also clarifies how insurance and customs will work until the goods are transferred to the destination. 

Here is a brief description of what DAP involves:

A Quick Overview of Seller’s Role

  • Delivery and Potential Risks: As a seller, you will be the one to deliver the goods to a destination you mutually agreed with the buyer. After the delivery, risks also shift to the buyer along with the goods. 
  • Transport Costs: The seller covers all transportation costs and risks of the goods.
  • Insurance: Under DAP, the seller isn’t obliged for the insurance of goods during transport. Instead, it’s the buyer’s responsibility.

A Quick Overview of Buyer’s Role

  • Unloading and Customs: The buyer handles unloading and all import clearance tasks, like paying duties, taxes, and customs.
  • Insurance: It’s optional. Buyers might choose to insure the goods on their way to the destination.

Key Points and Considerations

  • DAP vs. DDP: Both Incoterms differ when it comes to handling import duties. With DAP, it’s the buyer; with DDP, it’s the seller.
  • Suitable for All Transportation Modes: DAP is ideal for all sorts of transportation methods, making it one of the most-used Incoterms.
  • Watch for Delays and Extra Costs: Customs issues or duty payment delays can add costs or slow down delivery. It’s wise to keep these potential hiccups in mind with DAP.

You must understand these concepts to trade smoothly via DAP without getting into conflicts or legal waters. 

Understanding Incoterms DAP

Seller's Responsibilities Under DAP: A Detailed Overview

If you’re a seller using DAP Incoterm, you will have to cater to a list of tasks till the final delivery of the goods. These tasks help you ensure streamlined delivery with minimum risks and guaranteed, full-proof compliance with regulations. 

Here is a detailed breakdown of a seller’s critical responsibilities under DAP:

Export Formalities and Documentation

Sellers have to manage everything involved in the export procedure. It primarily includes handling customs duties and obtaining necessary export licenses. Both these things ensure your goods will be legally delivered from the origin country.

Besides export duties, sellers must also cater to handling, storing, and providing all sorts of essential export and transport paperwork. It includes the commercial invoice, packing list, and bill of lading (air waybill).

Transportation and Delivery

The seller will be solely responsible for organizing the entire transportation of the goods to the buyer’s preferred location. This means not only will you arrange the delivery, but also pay for their costs, including transportation expenses. 

Your duties as a seller don’t just end with transportation. Instead, you must also ensure goods reach the destination safely and are ready for unloading. Moreover, you will cover all the associated costs and risks, including those related to the terminal handling. 

Costs and Risk Management

As you now know, sellers bear all expenses for transporting the goods, from export packaging and loading charges to export duties, taxes, and customs clearance. Not only that, but they also have to pay for origin and destination terminal handling charges.

When it comes to risk management, the risk transfers from the seller to the buyer once the goods are set for unloading at the destination. Until then, the seller is accountable to ensure the goods arrive as per the agreement.

Buyer's Responsibilities Under DAP: A Detailed Overview

Now that you’re aware of your responsibilities as a seller, what if you’re on the other side of the contract, i.e., a buyer? Under DAP, buyers also have several important duties till the final stages of delivery.

Here’s what buyers have to cater to with DAP:

Import Formalities and Costs

The buyer’s work begins on the import side. They have to oversee document preparation and customs clearance submission to ensure compliance with local laws. Not only that, but they also have to take care of all customs fees, taxes, and import duties.

Unloading and Transport

The total cost of unloading the shipment also falls on the buyer’s plate, whether it’s at their warehouse or any other facility. Once the shipment gets cleared by customs, the buyer also has to organize transportation to the final destination.

Payment and Further Transport

Under DAP, the buyer has to fulfill all the payment terms mentioned in the sales contract. In addition, they also have to pay for and manage the onward transport of the goods—from the delivery area to the destination. 

DAP: Advantages and Practical Applications

DAP Incoterms make shipping simpler for both buyers and sellers. They offer a multitude of benefits to everyone involved in the contract. Here is a quick overview of DAP’s benefits and practical applications.

Risk and Liability Management

From the buyers’ perspective, DAP saves them from additional shipping risks. It puts most risks on the seller, which allows buyers to go into the trade without any stress. This makes it important for sellers to understand when the risk is shifted to their shoulders. 

If you are a seller, you should have a strong grasp of risk and liability management to better plan the entire shipment. 

Cash Flow and Inventory Management

DAP allows buyers to manage their money and stock more efficiently. It’s beneficial for frequently-ordered items. Since sellers handle shipping, buyers can plan their inventory needs without worrying about immediate shipping costs.

For sellers, DAP helps them appear more appealing to buyers. It provides improved delivery options to make buyers happy, which, in turn, allows sellers to attract more customers and make more sales.

Flexibility and Customization

One of the many reasons traders love DAP is its versatility and customization. It is ideal for all types of transportation methods, meaning the seller and the buyer can customize their shipping terms for specific requirements, whether the type of goods or logistic needs.

What Are the Risks of DAP?

DAP comes with some potential risks that you should be aware of beforehand. Here’s a breakdown of some DAP risks that may occur during your first international trade:

  • Compatibility with Payment Methods: DAP might not work well with letters of credit (LCs), which are often used to reduce payment risks in global trade.
  • Risk of Loss or Damage: Once goods are ready to be unloaded, any damage or loss shifts to the buyer. It’s critical to plan and execute unloading carefully to avoid mishaps.
  • Additional Charges and Delays: Delays in unloading can lead to extra fees from handling services. To prevent these costs, you must be proficient in effective coordination and communication.
  • Understanding Incoterms: Misunderstanding any Incoterm, not just DAP, can lead to unexpected fees, delays, or even abandoned cargo. So, always study your Incoterm well before initiating the contract.
  • Customs Clearance Responsibilities: While sellers need to clear goods for export, they don’t have to deal with import clearance or duties—that’s on the buyer. This can cause delays if the buyer isn’t prepared.

DAP Incoterm surely comes with flexibility, but it requires both parties to be on top of the risks and duties involved. To prevent most of these risks, you should plan proactively, maintain clear communication, and learn about DAP inside and out.

DAP: Key Considerations and Common Misunderstandings

Many traders, even seasoned ones, make mistakes before or during DAP trading. These errors don’t only make things complicated for the other party, but can also get you into serious legal trouble. 

As a sane trader, you should consider the following things before selecting DAP:

  • Vague Delivery Locations: Be specific about where goods will be delivered, like “FCA Houston 501 Crawford Street,” to avoid confusion.
  • Mismatch with Payment Methods: DAP might not fit well with Letters of Credit, which could lead to payment security issues.
  • Ignoring Customs Duties: Under DAP, the buyer should know they are responsible for handling import customs. If they neglect their duties, the shipment may face delays.
  • Wrong Terms for Containers: If you’re dealing with containerized goods, avoid sea freight terms like FOB at all costs. Instead, opt for FCA or CIP for safer risk management.

Some helpful tips to avoid these mistakes include:

  • Match Incoterms with Contracts: Make sure your chosen Incoterm aligns with your contract and payment needs, primarily related to insurance and payment security.
  • Get Expert Advice: Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned professional, always consult logistics and tax experts to learn what you’re getting into. Doing so will help you understand how DAP will affect your operations.
  • Seller’s Import Duties Capability: If considering DDP, check if the seller can effectively handle import duties in the buyer’s country. It will help you prevent delays.


Hopefully, this guide helped you understand DAP Incoterms inside out. As a global trader, you must understand each party’s responsibilities under DAP to minimize risks and ensure smooth delivery processes.

To implement DAP successfully, you should plan proactively and communicate effectively. DAP surely offers many benefits, but it also has some risks that you should take into account.

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