INCOTERMS (in Spanish and English) and what they mean

International Commercial Terms (“Incoterms”) are eleven internationally-acknowledged standard trade terms created by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)* to be used in sales contracts. They specify:

1) who (whether the seller or buyer) will be responsible for transportation costs, including insurance, taxes and duties

2) where the goods are to be picked up and delivered, and

3) who is responsible for the goods at each step of the transportation process and, particularly, when risk of damage to or loss of the goods pass from seller to buyer.

Below are the standard Incoterms in English and Spanish with a brief schematic explanation of each:

A) Incoterms for any mode of transportation:

EXW Ex Works (named place)–EXW En fábrica (lugar convenido)

Seller places the goods at the disposal of the buyer at the seller’s premises or at another named place (factory, warehouse, etc.). The seller does not need to load the goods on any vehicle, nor clear the goods for export, if applicable. Buyer is responsible for all subsequent risks, transportation costs, taxes and duties from that point forward.

FCA Free Carrier (named place)–FCA Libre transportista (lugar convenido)

Seller delivers the goods to the buyer’s carrier at a designated place. At this point risk passes to buyer, who is then responsible for transportation to the final destination of delivery.

CPT Carriage paid to (named place of destination)–CPT Transporte pagado hasta (lugar de destino convenido)

Seller delivers the goods to a carrier designated by the seller at an agreed place. Seller contracts for and bears the cost of delivering the goods to the named place of destination.

CIP Carriage and Insurance Paid to (named place of destination)–CIP Transporte y seguros pagados hasta (lugar de destino convenido)

Seller delivers the goods to a carrier designated by the seller at an agreed place. Seller not only contracts for and bears the cost of delivering the goods to the named place of destination, but must likewise take out minimum insurance coverage against the buyer’s risk of loss or damage to the goods during transportation. Buyer may choose to contract additional insurance coverage.

DAT Delivered at Terminal (named terminal at port or place of destination)–DAT Entregado en terminal (puerto de destino convenido)

Seller is deemed to have delivered the goods when, once unloaded from the arriving means of transport, they are placed at the disposal of the buyer at a named terminal at the designated port or place of destination. Seller bears all risks involved in bringing the goods to and unloading them at the terminal at the port or place of destination.

DAP Delivered at Place (named place of destination)–DAP Entregado en un punto (lugar de destino convenido)

Seller is deemed to have delivered the goods when the goods are placed at the disposal of the buyer on the arriving carrier ready for unloading at the named place of destination. Seller bears all risks involved in bringing the goods to the designated place.

DDP Delivered Duty Paid (named place of destination)–DDP Entregado, derechos pagados (lugar de destino convenido)

Seller is deemed to have delivered the goods when the goods are placed at the disposal of the buyer, cleared for import on the arriving means of transport and ready for unloading at the named place of destination. Seller bears all costs and risks involved in bringing the goods to the place of destination, including clearing the goods for export and import, paying the corresponding duties and carrying out all customs formalities.

B) Incoterms specifically for sea and inland waterway transportation

FAS Free Alongside Ship (named loading port)–FAS Franco/Libre al costado del buque (puerto de carga convenido)

Seller is deemed to have delivered the goods when they are placed alongside the vessel (e.g., on a quay or a barge) designated by the buyer at the named port of shipment. Risk of loss of or damage to the goods passes to buyer when the goods are alongside the ship, and the buyer bears all costs from that moment onwards.

FOB Free on Board (named loading port)–FOB Franco/Libre a bordo (puerto de carga convenido)

Seller delivers the goods on board the vessel designated by the buyer at the named port of shipment. Risk of loss of or damage to the goods passes to buyer when the goods are on board the vessel, and the buyer bears all costs from that moment onwards.

CFR Cost and Freight (named port of destination)–CFR Coste y flete (puerto de destino convenido)

Seller delivers the goods on board the vessel and risk of loss of or damage to the goods passes to buyer once the goods are on board. Seller bears responsibility for contracting for and paying the costs and freight necessary to bring the goods to the named port of destination.

CIF Cost, Insurance and Freight (named port of destination)–CIF Coste, seguro y flete (puerto de destino convenido)

Seller delivers the goods on board the vessel and risk of loss of or damage to the goods passes to buyer once the goods are on board. Seller not only bears responsibility for contracting for and paying the costs and freight necessary to bring the goods to the named port of destination, but must likewise take out minimum insurance coverage against the buyer’s risk of loss of or damage to the goods during carriage. Buyer may choose to contract additional insurance coverage.

This ICC chart gives an informative Incoterms overview:

Incoterms 2010 (chart)

For a more detailed explanation of each Incoterm, see the ICC’s website:

What is usufructo ?

ExpressingCivil LawConcepts

Usufructo, the right to use and enjoy the proceeds of another’s property for a given term, is one of the most common rights in property (derechos reales) present in civil code systems. The beneficiary (usufructuario) of a “usufruct” (as usufructo is known in Louisiana and in other English-speaking civil law jurisdictions) may use and enjoy the “fruits” (proceeds, profit, etc.) from the property, but without damaging or diminishing it. Article 467 of the Spanish Civil Code defines usufructo as the “right to use and reap the proceeds from another’s property with the obligation to preserve its form and substance, unless the instrument granting that right or the law provides otherwise” (derecho a disfrutar los bienes ajenos con la obligación de conservar su forma y sustancia, a no ser que el título de su constitución o la ley autoricen otra cosa). The property owner granting a usufruct is known as a nudo propietario (“naked owner,” similar to the common law “remainderman”).

There is no common law equivalent of usufructo, and if “usufruct” is not readily understood, the term may perhaps be rendered as “beneficial interest” or even “beneficial ownership,” given that “beneficial owner” is “one recognized as the owner of something because use and title belong to that person, even though legal title may belong to someone else” (Black’s Law Dictionary).

With that in mind, here are a few of the basic terms and concepts concerning usufructo with possible English translations:*

  • usufructo—usufruct; beneficial interest; beneficial ownership
  • usufructuario—usufructuary; beneficiary of a usufruct; beneficial owner
  • nudo propietario—naked owner; remainderman
  • usufructo sobre cosas inmuebles o muebles—usufruct/beneficial ownership of real or personal property
  • usufructo de derechos—usufruct/beneficial ownership of rights
  • usufructo simple—usufruct/beneficial ownership granted to a single person
  • usufructo múltiple—usufruct/beneficial ownership granted to two or more persons
  • usufructo simultáneo—simultaneous usufruct/beneficial ownership (enjoyed simultaneously by multiple beneficiaries)
  • usufructo sucesivo—successive usufruct/beneficial ownership (enjoyed by each beneficiary in succession)
  • usufructo propio; usufructo normal; usufructo de cosa no consumible—usufruct/beneficial ownership of non-consumable property (with the obligation to preserve its form and substance)
  • usufructo impropio; usufructo anormal; cuasiusufructo—usufruct/beneficial ownership of consumable property
  • usufructo voluntario—usufruct/beneficial ownership created voluntarily
  • usufructo legal—usufruct/beneficial ownership imposed by operation of law
  • usufructo puro—unconditional usufruct/beneficial ownership
  • usufructo condicional—conditional usufruct/beneficial ownership
  • usufructo a plazo—usufruct/beneficial ownership for a term
  • usufructo universal—usufruct/beneficial ownership of an entire estate
  • usufructo vitalicio—lifetime usufruct/beneficial ownership; usufruct/beneficial ownership for the life of the beneficiary; life estate; lifetime interest
  • usufructo viudal; usufructo del cónyuge viudo—surviving spouse’s usufruct/beneficial ownership; usufruct/beneficial ownership of a surviving spouse
  • usufructo testamentario—usufruct/beneficial ownership created by will
  • usufructo por prescripción—usufruct/beneficial ownership created by adverse possession

Source: Rebecca Jowers. Léxico temático de terminología jurídica español-inglés. Madrid: Tirant lo Blanch, 2015, pp. 767-769.

What’s the right preposition to use with “right” and “rights”?

woman working girl sitting
Photo by Alexander Dummer on

Learners of Legal English are often stumped when it comes to deciding which preposition to use in a given expression. Indeed, prepositions pose a stumbling block in many languages, and English is no exception, whether used with nouns, in prepositional phrases or appended to phrasal verbs. This week one of the students in my Legal English course asked me which preposition is used with the noun “right” (or “rights).” Most expressions require “of,” “to” or sometimes “in.” Here are some of the most common (some have two possible options):

Expressions with “OF”:

  • right of assembly (also: freedom of assembly) (derecho de reunion; libertad de reunión)
  • right of asylum (derecho de asilo)
  • right of association (also: freedom of assembly) (derecho de asociación; libertad de asociación)
  • right of establishment (derecho de establecimiento)
  • right of first refusal (derecho de tanteo)
  • right of good reputation (derecho al honor)
  • right of privacy (derecho a la intimidad)
  • right of publicity (also: publicity rights) (derecho a la propia imagen)
  • right of sufferage (derecho de sufragio)
  • right of way (derecho de paso; servidumbre de paso)

Expressions with “TO”:

  • right to counsel (derecho a la asistencia letrada)
  • right to demonstrate (libertad de manifestación)
  • right to due process (derecho a la tutela judicial efectiva)
  • right to hold public office (derecho de acceso a los cargos públicos)
  • right to life (derecho a la vida)
  • right to own property (derecho de propiedad)
  • right to privacy (derecho a la intimidad)
  • right to stand for election (derecho de sufragio pasivo)
  • right to unionize (libertad sindical)
  • right to strike (derecho a la huelga)
  • right to vote (derecho de sufragio activo)
  • right to vote and stand for election (derecho de sufragio)
  • right to work (derecho al trabajo)

Expressions with “IN”:

  • rights in property (derechos reales)
  • rights in patents (derechos sobre patentes)
  • rights in trademarks (derechos sobre marcas), etc.

(One holds rights IN property, a use most often found in the context of intellectual property, and which may actually sound unnatural to nonlawyer native speakers of English).


False Friends (23): sentencia; sentence

Oh, no! False Friends

This pair of legal false cognates definitely belongs in the False Friends 101 category, terms that translators and legal professionals just can’t afford to confuse. Sentencia denotes a court’s final disposition of a matter: decisión formulada por el juez o tribunal que resuelve definitivamente todas las cuestiones planteadas en el proceso.* In English, this is a court’s “judgment,” its “final determination of the rights and obligations of the parties in a case.”**

In previous blog posts I examined in detail the terminology of Spanish sentencias,*** but what about the legal meanings of “sentence”? The term generally denotes the punishment (condena or pena) imposed on a criminal defendant found guilty, and it is used as both a noun and a verb: He served a 10-year sentence (Cumplió una condena/pena de 10 años); He was sentenced to 10 years in prison (Fue condenado a 10 años de prisión).

To look at some of the related terminology, under Spanish criminal law sentences are divided into penas privativas de libertad (custodial sentences), i.e., some form of incarceration, and penas no privativas de libertad (noncustodial sentences). Several types of alternative sentence (pena sustitutiva de la pena privativa de libertad) exist. Penas privativas de derechos entail the forfeiture of certain rights including, for example, several types of inhabilitación (disqualification from holding certain offices, exercising certain professions, etc.) or privación del derecho a conducir vehículos a motor (loss of the right to drive; suspension of driver’s license).

Mandatory community service (trabajos en beneficio de la comunidad) and fines (multas) are also often imposed. The most common fines are day fines (penas de días-multa) that take into account the offender’s financial situation based on his assets, income and family obligations, and other circumstances (situación económica del reo deducida de su patrimonio, obligaciones y cargas familiares y demás circunstancias). Less common are proportional fines (penas de multa proporcional) expressed as an amount proportional to the damage caused or injury inflicted, the value of the object of the offense or the proceeds obtained from the crime (cuantía del daño causado, el valor del objeto del delito o el beneficio reportado por el delito) (arts. 50-51 CP).

Judges likewise sometimes place offenders on a type of probation, referred to in the Spanish Criminal Code as suspensión de la execución de la pena privativa de libertad (literally, “suspension of the execution of custodial sentences”) (art. 80 CP). Also sometimes called “condena condicional” or “remisión condicional,” this type of probation or suspended sentence may be granted to first time offenders (delincuentes primarios) sentenced to less than two year’s incarceration (condena no superior a dos años de privación de libertad).

*F. Gómez de Liaño. Diccionario jurídico. Salamanca, 1979.

**Black’s Law Dictionary, 8th ed., 2004.

***  Additional terminology on sentencias with possible English translations can be found here , here , and here .

Legal Meanings of pieza

legal words

In procedural law contexts, pieza does not mean “piece,” but rather denotes a “proceeding.” Certain aspects of a case may be adjudicated en pieza separada, i.e., in a separate proceeding from the main trial or proceeding (called pieza principal), and will be recorded in a separate case file (likewise often referred to as pieza separada). In civil proceedings, for example, pieza de medidas cautelares denotes a “provisional remedies proceeding” incident to civil litigation. In criminal procedure, in ordinary felony proceedings (proceso ordinario por delitos graves), a preliminary criminal investigation (instrucción sumarial) is typically conducted in four piezas. In addition to the main investigatory proceeding (pieza principal), a second pieza de situación personal reflects any pretrial measures (medidas cautelares personales) ordered against a suspect (investigado), including arrest (detención), pretrial release (libertad provisional) or pretrial detention (prisión provisional). The remaining two concern civil liability (responsabilidad civil) arising from the commission of the crime in question. The pieza de responsibilidad civil principal contains all measures ordered against the suspect’s property (medidas cautelares reales) to ensure that, if convicted, he will be able to pay the victim the compensation awarded by the court. These may include requiring the accused to make a pretrial deposit into court (prestar fianza) or ordering attachment (embargo) of his property. In the fourth pieza de responsibilidad subsidiaria similar measures may be ordered against third parties who may likewise be liable for civil damages resulting from the offense.

In other respects, the term pieza de convicción refers to the physical evidence of the commission of a crime, defined as objetos inanimados que puedan servir para atestiguar la realidad de un hecho relevante para el proceso.* The expression has sometimes been inappropriately translated as “incriminating evidence,” but whether a pieza de convicción is incriminating or not must subsequently be established at trial.

*Juan Manuel Fernández Martínez, coord. Diccionario jurídico. Thompson-Aranzadi, 2004.

False Friends (22): panfleto isn’t a “pamphlet”

Oh, no! False Friends

Panfleto appears in several bilingual dictionaries translated literally as “pamphlet.” But “pamphlet” is more appropriately folleto while, at least in Spain, panfleto is something quite different. Indeed, as defined in the DLE, panfleto denotes libelo difamatorio or an opúsculo de carácter agresivo. Fundéu likewise distinguishes between the two, indicating that “folleto” es una obra impresa, no periódica, de reducido número de hojas, while “panfleto” siempre tiene sentido difamatorio. Indeed, the term panfleto is often associated with political propaganda (un panfleto político) and is defined as such (papel o folleto de propaganda política) in Clave.* Thus the informal expression nos echó un panfleto implies “(he/she) subjected us to a (political) diatribe.” And the adjectives panfletario/a (estilo propio de los panfletos) and the noun panfletista (autor de un panfleto) also have this meaning. Thus “pamphlet” should be rendered as folleto rather than panfleto, unless the reference is to some sort of biased, partisan or propagandistic writing.

*Clave: Diccionario de uso del español actual. Ediciones SM, 2006.

Terminology Sources: Swimming in the “Alphabet Soup” of European Union Agencies

EU Agencies

As translators we often have to use the official names of EU agencies and their abbreviations, initialisms or acronyms in other languages. Their names are sometimes easily confused and, moreover, to further complicate matters they often appear to be in flux, being amended from time to time to more accurately reflect the agency’s purpose and scope. A prime example is the former Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs)—OHIM) (in Spanish, Oficina de Armonización del Mercado Interior (Marcas, Dibujos y Modelos)—OAMI), located in Alicante, Spain, which as of March, 2016 is now known as the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) (or Oficina de Propiedad Intelectual de la Unión Europea—OPIUE).

Navigating this complicated maze is much simplified by an article published in the May/June, 2016 issue of “puntoycoma: Boletín de los traductores españoles de las instituciones de la Unión Europea” that provides the current (and some possible future) names and abbreviations for dozens of EU agencies in Spanish, English and French. It’s entitled “Las siglas de los organizmos descentralizados de la Unión Europea: situación actual” and is available here:

In addition, the EU Agencies Network maintains a current interactive map with the name, location and link to the website of EU agencies.



Mistranslations: Don’t confuse libertad condicional and libertad provisional

Is this really a mistranslation_

It is all too frequent to see libertad condicional and libertad provisional confused in the Spanish press. Here are some recent headlines: “Paco Pérez* abandonó en la tarde del viernes la prisión de Picassent (Valencia) al haberle sido concedida la libertad condicional tras abonar una fianza de 30.000 euros.” Or, “Manolo Martínez,* presunto coautor de una estafa de más de 900.000 euros, salió en la tarde de ayer de la cárcel de Puerto II en libertad condicional.” Of course, what was actually meant here is libertad provisional, not libertad condicional.

Journalists can’t afford to make this mistake, and translators certainly can’t either. So what’s the difference between libertad provisional and libertad condicional?

In Spain libertad condicional generally denotes the early release of a prison inmate who is classified in what is termed tercer grado del tratamiento penitenciario (the minimum security level of the offender treatment program), has served at least three-fourths of his sentence (que haya cumplido las tres cuartas partes de la condena) and who has exhibited good behavior (observado buena conducta).** When granted libertad conditional, an inmate is allowed to serve the remainder of his sentence in the community. In that regard, libertad condicional may perhaps be rendered as “early release” or as “parole” (the latter defined in Black’s Law Dictionary as “the release of a prisoner from imprisonment before the full sentence has been served”). Related terminology includes conceder/revocar la libertad condicional (to grant/to revoke parole) and violación de la libertad condicional (parole violation).

Thus Pepe and Manolo appearing in the headlines above are not en libertad condicional (on parole), because they have not been formally accused, tried or convicted of an offense, nor are they serving a custodial sentence (cumpliendo una pena privativa de libertad) for which they could be granted parole. What the journalists meant to say was that they have been granted libertad provisional, having been released on bail pending their respective trials.

Indeed, in Spanish criminal proceedings libertad provisional generally denotes “pretrial release,” or “release pending trial,” referring to the release of a criminal suspect or defendant pending the outcome of a criminal investigation or while awaiting trial. In this case a judge may order libertad (provisional) con fianza (“release on bail”) or libertad (provisional) sin fianza, a “release without bail” similar to “release on recognizance” (ROR) in the US in which the releasee promises to appear for trial at a later date. In Spain libertad sin fianza is often granted with medidas cautelares (in this context, “conditions”) such as the requirement to periodically report to the court (obligación de comparecer en el juzgado).


*”The names have been changed to protect the innocent”

**Early release can granted exceptionally under other circumstances (supuestos especiales de adelantamiento de la libertad condicional). These include libertad anticipada por enfermedad (often referred to in English as “compassionate release”) for inmates suffering from a serious incurable disease (internos aquejados de enfermedad grave incurable), or inmates over 70 years old (internos mayores de 70 años).

Mistranslations(?): “attorney-at-law”


“Attorney-at-law” has sometimes been mistranslated as licenciado en Derecho. But a licenciado en Derecho has completed an undergraduate law degree (similar to the LL.B. or “Bachelor of Laws” awarded at British universities) but may (or may not) decide to practice law. In contrast “attorney-at-law” is the term generally used in the US to denote a lawyer who is engaged in the practice of law, a “practicing attorney” (ejerciente or abogado en ejercicio). A practicing attorney must of course hold a law degree (licenciatura en Derecho) but, in fact, many licenciados en Derecho are engaged in professions other than the practice of law.

It should perhaps be noted that with the adoption of the European Union’s Bologna Process, Spanish universities have phased out their licenciatura programs and now offer a Bologna-compatible undergraduate degree called grado. Thus a law degree is now known as grado en Derecho and those who graduate in law now are called graduados en Derecho rather than licenciados.

Multiple Meanings of delación


Legal Terms with Multiple Meanings

Delación has at least two “legal” meanings, one used in criminal law contexts that would likely be familiar to non-lawyers, and one whose meaning is clearly limited to inheritance law (Derecho de sucesiones). As a criminal law term delación is a synonym of acusación or denuncia, being defined in the Diccionario del español jurídico (DEJ) as revelación de datos que permiten identificar al culpable.

But in inheritance law its meaning is quite different, delación referring to the offer of an inheritance to prospective heirs so that they may accept or reject it. Quoting a Spanish Supreme Court opinion, the DEJ explains that delación is an ofrecimiento de la herencia al heredero, que da lugar a un derecho subjetivo, ius delationis, que faculta la adquisición por la aceptación. In that regard ius delationis denotes an heir’s right to accept or reject an inheritance and, in the meantime, to take measures to preserve the deceased’s estate.