Free In

What is
Free In

Free In” refers to a freight term where the cost of shipping excludes the expense of loading the goods onto the vessel. The term is particularly relevant in ocean and air freight contracts. Essentially, when a Free In agreement is made, the shipper takes on the responsibility and cost of loading the cargo onto the vessel. The carrier, on the other hand, includes the cost of unloading the cargo at the destination port within the total freight charge.

Responsibilities Under Free In (FI)

  1. Shipper’s Obligations:
  • Loading Costs: The shipper must cover all expenses related to loading the goods onto the vessel. This includes labor, equipment, and any other resources necessary to ensure the goods are safely and efficiently loaded.
  • Loading Coordination: The shipper must coordinate the timing and logistics of the loading process to align with the vessel’s schedule. This requires precise planning and communication with the carrier to avoid delays and additional charges.
  1. Carrier’s Obligations:
  • Unloading Costs: The carrier includes the cost of unloading the goods at the destination port in the total freight charge. This covers labor, equipment, and handling fees necessary to discharge the cargo from the vessel.
  • Freight Rate: The freight rate quoted by the carrier will reflect the inclusion of unloading costs but will exclude loading costs, which are borne by the shipper.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Free In (FI)

Advantages for the Shipper:

  • Control Over Loading: By taking responsibility for loading, the shipper can ensure that the process is carried out to their standards, potentially reducing the risk of damage to the goods.
  • Cost Management: Shippers can potentially reduce costs by managing the loading process themselves, especially if they have access to cost-effective labor and equipment.

Advantages for the Carrier:

  • Simplified Billing: The carrier’s responsibility is limited to unloading the cargo, simplifying the billing process and reducing administrative burdens.
  • Focus on Core Operations: Carriers can focus on the transportation and unloading of goods, streamlining their operations and reducing complexities associated with loading.

Disadvantages for the Shipper:

  • Additional Responsibility: The shipper must manage and oversee the entire loading process, which can be resource-intensive and time-consuming.
  • Coordination Challenges: Coordinating the loading process with the vessel’s schedule can be challenging, requiring effective communication and logistical planning.

Disadvantages for the Carrier:

  • Potential Delays: If the shipper fails to load the goods on time, it can lead to delays, affecting the carrier’s schedule and potentially leading to additional costs.
  • Limited Control Over Loading: The carrier has no control over the loading process, which may result in variations in how the cargo is loaded and secured.

Practical Applications of Free In (FI)

Free In terms are commonly used in bulk shipping, where large quantities of goods, such as raw materials or agricultural products, are involved. In these scenarios, shippers often have the necessary resources and expertise to manage the loading process efficiently. Additionally, Free In terms can be advantageous in situations where the shipper has established relationships with local labor providers or access to cost-effective loading equipment.

In air freight, Free In can apply to situations where the shipper has specialized handling requirements or where coordination with ground handling services is essential. By managing the loading process, shippers can ensure that their specific needs are met, reducing the risk of damage or mishandling.


Free In (FI) is a significant term in international freight agreements, defining the allocation of loading and unloading costs between shippers and carriers. Understanding Free In is crucial for both parties to manage costs effectively and ensure smooth operations. For shippers, taking responsibility for loading offers control and potential cost savings, while carriers benefit from simplified billing and a focus on core transportation and unloading operations.

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