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Taking delivery generally means accepting the delivery of items or investments a person or business has purchased. Sometimes a person may contract to purchase items he will actually receive at a later date. In such a case, he will take delivery when the items are made available to him or when he goes to retrieve them. There are also some cases in which a person is considered to have taken delivery as soon as he has signed a contract. For example, in some jurisdictions a person takes delivery of a car as soon as he signs a contract to purchase it.
When it comes to car buying, taking delivery usually means signing a contract for buying a car. Depending on the jurisdiction, however, the exact point at which a person has taken delivery may vary. For example, in some places, a person must sign a contract for the purchase of a vehicle and drive it away from the dealer's lot or accept the keys at another location for it to be considered taking delivery. In other places, however, getting into the car and starting it after signing a contract to purchase it may be called taking delivery. There are even some places in which signing a contract for a vehicle may be considered taking on ownership, regardless of whether or not the signer has started the car and driven it away or not.
In some cases, the phrase take delivery refers to the actual receipt of goods. For example, if a person signs a contract to purchase goods, he may not necessarily receive the goods he has contracted to purchase on the same day. Instead, he may sign the contract for goods that are on order. In such a case, he may have the goods delivered to his location and take delivery upon signing for them. Sometimes, however, a person may have to pick up his property once the order is filled.
Many contracts include take-or-pay language by which the signer of the contract must abide. For example, a contract may stipulate that a person must take delivery of the items he has ordered once they are available. The contract may also state, however, that the refusal to take delivery of the goods does not relinquish the contract holder from his obligations. Instead, refusing to accept delivery may require the recipient to pay a particular amount of money. This type of clause may help protect the seller, who would then need to find a new buyer or accept a financial loss.
The term taking delivery can also apply to investments. A person takes delivery when he accepts receipt of securities, for example. The same goes for physical commodities, which are products traded as commodities. Precious metals are an example of commodities for which a person may take delivery.