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International trade documents and payment methods

International trade documents are an integral part of all international payment methods, including documentary credits, letters of credit L/C, documents against payment, and documents against acceptance. The documents called for by a payment type will differ somewhat according to the nature of the goods and the countries of export and import. Some documents, however, such as the International Commercial Invoice and a Bill of Lading B/L, are specified in all transactions.


The originals of specified documents should be provided unless copies are called for or allowed. If more than one set of originals is required, the buyer should specify in the credit how many are necessary. Unless otherwise noted in the documentary credit, banks are authorized to accept documents as originals, even if they were produced or appear to have been produced on a copy machine, by a computerized system, provided they have the notation “Original” and are, when necessary, signed.

Named carrier

A transport document, such as Bill of Lading B/L, Airway Bill AWB o CMR Transport Documents) must appear on its face to have been issued by a named carrier, or his agent. This does not mean that the applicant must name the carrier in the documentary credit application. It merely means that the transport document must indicate the name of the carrier.


Unless otherwise noted in the documentary credit, banks are authorized to accept documents that are authenticated, validated, legalized, visaed, or certified so long as the document appears on its face to satisfy the requirement. This means that the banks are not responsible for the verification of the certification or authorized signature. Certificates must usually bear the signature of the issuer.


Banks are authorized to accept documents that have been signed by digital, facsimile, stamp, symbol, or any other mechanical or electronic method.

Unspecified issuers or contents of documents

If the credit does not name a specific issuer or specific contents of a document (other than transport documents, insurance documents, and the commercial invoice), banks are authorized to accept documents as presented so long as the data contained in the documents are consistent with the credit and other stipulated documents.

Issuance date vs. letter of credit date

Unless otherwise noted in the Letter of credit L/C, banks are authorized to accept documents dated prior to the issuance date of the credit, so long as all other terms of the credit have been satisfied.

Documentation Checklist

The following is a list of points that buyers, sellers, and banks should all be aware of when preparing, presenting, and checking documents for documentary payment transactions:

Name and address of shippe
Name and address of buyer/consignee
Issuer name and address
Description of the goods, quantities, units
Country of origin of the goods
Country of destination of the good
Invoice numbers, documentary credit number
Invoice numbers, documentary credit numbers

To obtain models, ready to use, of main International Trade Documents, click on:
International Trade Documents

About Olegario Llamazares

Economista, director de Global Marketing Strategies y socio fundador del portal Globalnegotiator. Está especializado en negocios internacionales con un énfasis en comercio exterior, marketing y negociación internacional. Tiene su residencia en Madrid, España.Economist, managing director of Global Marketing Strategies and founding partner of the website Global Negotiator. He specializes in international business with an emphasis on trade, marketing and negotiation.