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EXW vs DDP : What is the Difference? | Full Guide Version 2023

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      When importing from China to anywhere in the world, you can see different terminologies. These intercoms are often familiar or easy to guess, but some are more complex. While choosing your method of shipping from China, you will see terms such as EXW or DDP. What are these terms and how are they different? In this article by ddpch, we will talk about EXW vs. DDP.

      In the realm of international shipping, understanding terms like Ex Works (EXW) and Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) is pivotal for successful transactions. These Incoterms, defined by the International Chamber of Commerce, delineate the responsibilities of sellers and buyers regarding shipping, insurance, and customs duties. Grasping the distinction between EXW vs DDP can significantly streamline your shipping procedures and mitigate potential risks and costs. This article delves into the nuances of EXW vs DDP, helping you make informed decisions for your business needs in 2023 and beyond.

      A Comprehensive Look at Incoterms

      Navigating the world of international trade can be complex, especially without a firm understanding of the key terms and concepts that guide these transactions. One such critical concept is Incoterms (International Commercial Terms), a universally recognized set of rules that simplify international trade by providing a common language for buyers and sellers worldwide. Incoterms play an essential role in global trade, clarifying the tasks, costs, and risks associated with the transportation and delivery of goods.

      Incoterms cover various aspects of international transactions, from who is responsible for handling goods and securing transport to who bears the risk at each stage of shipment. They ensure consistency and clarity in contracts, reducing the potential for misunderstandings or disputes between trading partners. Familiarizing yourself with Incoterms is an important step in mastering the fundamentals of global trade and developing effective, efficient shipping strategies.

      EXW vs DDP

      Understanding EXW and DDP: Key Concepts in International Trade

      As we delve into the world of international trade, it’s crucial to understand key terminologies such as EXW and DDP. They stand for Ex Works and Delivered Duty Paid, respectively, and they are among the international commercial terms (Incoterms) used to standardize and clarify shipping responsibilities, costs, and risks. In essence, they define where the supplier’s responsibilities end and the buyer’s begin. Understanding these terms can make the difference between a seamless, cost-effective shipping process and an import laden with unexpected costs and complications.

      What Is Ex Works (EXW)?

      Ex works (EXW) is an international trade concept that explains when a distributor makes a commodity available at a specified venue. In such a case, the purchaser of the commodity must pay the transportation costs. Ex works (EXW) is one of the 11 official Incoterms (International Commercial Terms). It is in fact a compilation of generic international trade terms provided by the Chamber of Commerce Worldwide. To make it short:

      • Ex works (EXW) is a shipping system in which a retailer makes a commodity available at a specific venue. In this case, the customer has to pay the costs of shipping.
      • When buyers have their goods, they are liable for certain dangers. Such hazards include loading the goods onto trucks, moving them onto a ship or plane, and complying with customs laws.
      • Ex works is an Incoterms (International Business Terms), one of 11 generic international trade terms issued by the Chamber of Commerce Worldwide.

      Further Reading: What is the Difference Between Cargo and Freight? | Basic Information

      What Is Delivered Duty Paid (DDP)?

      Now that we know about EXW, before moving on to reading about EXW vs DDP, let’s first dig into DDP.

      Delivered duty paid (DDP) is a distribution arrangement whereby the seller assumes all responsibility, liability, and costs associated with the transportation of the goods. This all happens before the buyer collects or transfers them to the port of destination. This arrangement covers payment of shipping costs, export and import taxes, insurance, and all other costs incurred during shipment to an agreed location in the buyer’s country of destination.

      • DDP imposes sole liability on the seller for the distribution of the products.
      • The seller shall arrange all transport and related costs including export clearance and customs paperwork needed to enter the port of destination.
      • The risks to the vendor are large and include VAT charges, bribery, and cost of storage in case any unexpected delays occur.

      EXW vs DDP : The Difference

      After knowing about both of these intercomes, we can read about EXW vs DDP. Below you can read information that will give a good perspective on EXW vs DDP.

      In some cases, based on intercoms, Ex works shipping is considered as the opposite side of DDP. In reality, DDP (Delivery Duty Paid) services are certain services that the seller approves through the shipping of goods to the requested destination.

      Further Reading: What is a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) | Why is it Needed for International Shipping 2020?

      On the other hand, Ex works is an operation where the seller is obligated to carry the product to the destination and the customer pays all costs. One of the important situations for Ex work shipping is that the item is ready for delivery and the exact date of receipt is available through the consideration of options.

      The other argument is that there are some repair services in DDP shipping services. But the customer chooses Ex works shipping services manually. In the trading services there are different incoterms but what is more important is that each of them has both pluses and minuses.

      For instance, in Ex works shipping the seller has no responsibility after loading the product. And the buyer will accept all the risks. As mentioned above, DDP Services are not the same and the seller assumes all danger and insurance costs before the goods are available at the destination.

      Comparison of EXW and DDP at a glance

       Ex Works (EXW) Delivered Duty Paid (DDP)
      Responsibility for Shipping Costs Buyer Seller
      Responsibility for Loading and Unloading Buyer Seller
      Responsibility for Export and Import Duties Buyer Seller
      Risk During Transport Buyer Seller
      Customs Documentation Buyer Seller
      Delivery Location Seller's premise Buyer's premise (designated location)
      Insurance Costs Buyer Seller
      Buyer Control over Logistics High Low
      Buyer Involvement in Shipping Process High Minimal
      Suitability for Buyers Experienced Importers/Those with established logistics arrangements Buyers preferring minimal involvement in logistics

      The Application of EXW and DDP in Real-World Trade

      Let’s consider a real-world example to illustrate the difference between EXW and DDP. Suppose a US-based retailer orders 1000 designer shoes from a manufacturer in Italy.

      Under EXW, the Italian manufacturer would prepare the goods for collection at their factory. The US retailer would then arrange and pay for transport from Italy to the US, including handling all customs documentation and duties. This approach gives the retailer control over the shipping process but also places the burden of logistics, cost, and risk squarely on their shoulders.

      If they chose DDP, the Italian manufacturer would take responsibility for delivering the shoes to the retailer’s designated location in the US. The manufacturer would cover all shipping costs, handle customs paperwork, pay any duties and taxes, and absorb all risks until delivery. While this is a simpler option for the retailer, it often comes with a higher cost to cover the additional services and responsibilities taken on by the manufacturer.

      How DDP and EXW Influence Your Importing Decisions in 2023

      In the year 2023, with the global supply chain undergoing massive transformations, understanding the different Incoterms has never been more critical. The choice between EXW and DDP can influence your importing decisions significantly.

      Under DDP, the seller covers all costs and assumes all risks until the goods are delivered to the final location in the buyer’s country. This includes transportation costs, export and import duties, taxes, and insurance. It’s an excellent choice for buyers who prefer minimal involvement in the logistical aspects of the transaction, as they only need to receive the goods at their specified location.

      On the other hand, EXW shifts all responsibility to the buyer once the goods are prepared for pickup at the seller’s location. The buyer then handles all transportation costs, insurance, and import duties. This term provides greater control over the shipping process, making it suitable for experienced importers or those with established logistics arrangements.

      Door to Door

      Important Factors to Consider When Choosing Between EXW and DDP

      1. Comprehend the Terminologies: Understand the basic concept of EXW and DDP, and how they impact the roles and responsibilities of buyers and sellers.
      2. Evaluate Your Experience Level: Consider your level of experience in handling international shipping and customs procedures.
      3. Assess the Risk Factors: Be aware of the risks involved in the transportation process for both EXW and DDP.
      4. Cost Analysis: Take into account all the potential costs associated with both shipping terms.
      5. Legal and Custom Regulations: Understand the legalities and custom regulations of both the exporting and importing countries.
      6. Determine Delivery Control: Decide if you prefer having control over the shipping and delivery process, or if you would rather leave these responsibilities to the seller.
      7. Consult with an Expert: Seek advice from a trusted freight forwarder like DDPCH or a logistics expert to help in making an informed decision.


      As a leading freight forwarder, DDPCH understands the complexities and challenges of international trade. We hope this guide has provided valuable insights into the distinct responsibilities and costs associated with EXW and DDP shipping terms. In 2023, our knowledgeable team remains committed to assisting you in navigating these critical decisions, ensuring seamless and cost-effective shipping solutions. Whether you’re leaning towards the control and involvement of EXW, or the ease and comprehensiveness of DDP, DDPCH has the expertise to guide you. Remember, the choice between EXW and DDP can significantly impact your import processes, costs, and risks. Trust DDPCH to simplify your freight forwarding needs and help you make informed choices. Our goal is your successful, hassle-free import experience.


      EXW means that the seller makes the goods available at their premises, and the buyer is responsible for all transportation costs and risks from that point onwards.

      In a DDP arrangement, the seller bears all the costs and risks involved in delivering the goods to an agreed-upon location in the buyer’s country, including customs duties and taxes.

      The choice of Incoterm depends on factors such as the nature of the goods, your experience in international trade, your shipping budget, and the specific requirements of your trade agreement.

      Yes, Incoterms can be used in domestic trade to define responsibilities and risks between sellers and buyers.

      Under EXW, the risk transfers from the seller to the buyer when the goods have been made available at the seller’s premises.

      Yes, DDP is often suitable for inexperienced buyers as it places the least amount of responsibility on the buyer.

      Under DDP, the seller is responsible for handling all customs procedures, including paying duties and taxes.

      No, under EXW, the seller is not obligated to clear the goods for export – that responsibility falls on the buyer.

      While DDP typically assigns responsibility for customs procedures to the seller, the buyer and seller can agree to different terms if they prefer.

      Under DDP, the seller pays for all freight costs to the agreed-upon destination.

      While DDP typically assigns responsibility for customs procedures to the seller, the buyer and seller can agree to different terms if they prefer.

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