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English: Letter of Credit

General Provisions =

A Letter of Credit is a document in which the importer's bank essentially promises to pay the exporter if the importer does not pay. The creditworthiness of the bank is substituted for the creditworthiness of the importer. However, the concept is substantially more complex than this. The promise is not made upon the exporter meeting certain conditions (or the importer not meeting certain conditions), but it is made on the documents of the transaction: This is the reason why a Letter of Credit is often called a Documentary Letter of Credit. The bank is under no obligation to pay even though delivery has been made and the importer has obtained control of the merchandise; similarly, the bank has to pay even though the merchandise may be shoddy or not fit for sale. The bank is obligated to pay only if the documents are in order. The Letter of Credit is therefore a contractual agreement between the Issuing Bank and the beneficiary, independent of the underlying relationship between the exporter and the importer; only the documents relating to the exporter-importer transaction matter. This obviously means that extreme care must be taken in handling the documents related to a Letter of Credit; otherwise, it triggers a very time-consuming and expensive process of amendments and corrections to the Letter of Credit.[1]

The Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits, 2007 Revision, ICC Publication no. 600 ("UCP") are rules that apply to any documentary credit ("credit") (including, to the extent to which they may be applicable, any standby letter of credit) when the text of the credit expressly indicates that it is subject to these rules. They are binding on all parties thereto unless expressly modified or excluded by the credit[2]

There are two types of Letters of Credit[3].

  • 1 - A revocable Letter of Credit can be revoked without the consent of the Exporter, meaning that it may be cancelled or changed up to the time the documents are presented. A revocable Letter of Credit affords the Exporter little protection; therefore, it is rarely used.
  • 2 - An irrevocable Letter of Credit cannot be cancelled or changed without the consent of all parties, including the Exporter. Unless otherwise stipulated, all Letters of Credit are irrevocable. A further differentiation is made between Letters of Credit, depending on the payment terms[4]. If payment is to be made at the time documents are presented, this is referred to as a sight Letter of Credit. Alternatively, if payment is to be made at a future fixed time from presentation of documents (e.g. 60 days after sight), this is referred to as a term, usance or deferred payment Letter of Credit.


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Библиографический список

  1. Additional useful data concerning Letter of credit (terminology, sample documents, etc.) could be revealed at http://www.export911.com/e911/export/docLC.htm
  2. ICC Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits (UCP 600) - http://shippingandfreightresource.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/ucp-600.pdf
  3. A Guide to Letters of Credit - http://www.tradev.net/Downloads/Tools/guide2lc.pdf
  4. ibid
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