Delivered Duty Unpaid (DDU): What It Is and How It Works


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May 04, 2023

Delivered Duty Unpaid (DDU): What It Is and How It Works

Ariel Courage is an experienced editor, researcher, and former fact-checker. She

Ariel Courage is an experienced editor, researcher, and former fact-checker. She has performed editing and fact-checking work for several leading finance publications, including The Motley Fool and Passport to Wall Street.

Investopedia / Zoe Hansen

Delivered Duty Unpaid (DDU) is an old international trade term indicating that the seller is responsible for the safe delivery of goods to a named destination, paying all transportation expenses, and assuming all risks during transport.

Once the goods arrive at the agreed-upon location, the buyer becomes responsible for paying import duties, as well as further transport costs. However, Delivered Duty Paid (DDP) indicates that the seller must cover duties, import clearance, and any taxes.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is an organization that was originally formed after World War I with the goal of fostering prosperity in Europe by setting standards for international trade. It was this group that, in 1936, published a set of standardized terms for different types of shipping agreements, known as Incoterms.

Incoterms are contract specifications outlining who bears the costs and risks of international transactions; they are subject to change at the discretion of the ICC. Because of the legal and logistical intricacies of international shipping, the ICC seeks to simplify matters for businesses by standardizing its terms.

Notably, 2020 Incoterms revision is available for purchase direct from the site.

Delivered Duty Unpaid (DDU) was actually not included in the most recent (2010) edition of the International Chamber of Commerce's Incoterms; the current official term that best describes the function of DDU is Delivered-at-Place (DAP).

However, DDU is still commonly used in international trade parlance. On paper, the term is followed by the location of delivery (e.g., "DDU: Port of Los Angeles").

Delivered at Place Unloaded (DPU) is the third term used to differentiate between shipping methods. Under DPU, the seller is also responsible for unloading the goods at the place of destination.

According to DDU arrangements, the seller secures licenses and takes care of other formalities involved in exporting a good; it is also responsible for all licenses and costs incurred in transit countries, as well as for providing an invoice at its own cost.

The seller assumes all risk until the goods are delivered to the specified location, but it has no obligation to obtain insurance on the goods.

The buyer is responsible for obtaining all necessary licenses for importing the goods and paying all relevant taxes, duties, and inspection costs. All risks involved in this process are borne by the buyer. Once the goods are placed at the disposal of the buyer, all further transportation costs and risks fall on the buyer.

In the world of shipping, delivered duty unpaid (DDU) simply means that it's the customer's responsibility to pay for any of the destination country's customs charges, duties, or taxes. These must all be paid in order for customs to release the shipment after it arrives.

On the other hand, delivered duty paid (DDP) means it's the shipper's responsibility to pay any of the customs charges, duties, and/or taxes required to send the product to the destination country.

The primary benefit of delivered duty unpaid (DDU) shipping is that it gives the buyer more control over the shipping procedures. For global buyers looking to keep a consistent flow of inventory, having a higher degree of control over the process can be paramount.

For instance, controlling costs and tracking shipments are typically easier to do under DDU shipping than in DDP shipping. Buyers are naturally more knowledgeable of their own country's shipping customs.

From the seller's perspective, DDU shipping provides the ability to take more of a "hands-off" approach when it comes to the destination country's shipping rules. The seller is simply responsible for getting the cargo to its destination, where the buyer can handle all of the legal complications.

Of course, there are also disadvantages to DDU shipping. The biggest problem for buyers is the possibility of surprise duties or tax charges when their shipment finally arrives. Obviously, that's a big negative for buyers. But it's not ideal for shippers, either, because disgruntled customers may refuse to pay for their parcel to be delivered.

As we've discussed, there are pros and cons to each method of shipping. So it ultimately boils down to what the buyer or receiver wants out of their shipping experience.

If the receiver prioritizes control of the shipping process and doesn't mind the legal complications or surprise charges that come with more control, DDU is a good option. But if a buyer wants a streamlined process without the possibility of any surprise charges, DDP is probably the way to go.

Under DDU shipping rules, the seller is fully responsible for the delivery of the goods to the destination country. The seller assumes all risks involved up to unloading.

The buyer bears the risk and cost of the unloading.

Delivery-at-place (DAP) was introduced in 2010 to basically replace the term delivery duty unpaid (DDU), so they're essentially the same.

International Chamber of Commerce. "Incoterms Rules History." Accessed May 22, 2021.

International Chamber of Commerce. "Incoterms Rules 2010." Accessed May 22, 2021.