Letter of Credit


The letter of credit transaction usually involves two banks: the buyer's bank issuing the letter of credit and a bank in the seller's country, which advised the letter of credit to the beneficiary. The advising bank may also assume the role of confirming bank. Whether advising and/or confirming, the seller's bank assumes certain responsibilities.


An advising bank acts as the agent of the issuing bank. The function of the advising bank is to take reasonable care to verify the authenticity of credits received and then accurately transmit them to their beneficiaries. When advising a letter of credit, the bank assumes no other liability. On receipt of the documents for examination and payment, the advising bank will pay the seller only if it has received good funds from the issuing bank, even if it was specifically named as paying bank in the letter of credit.


By confirming a letter of credit, the advising or another bank assumes the same responsibilities as the issuing bank, including the obligation to pay against presented documents if they are in order and all of the letter of credit terms are met. In effect, the beneficiary has the individual promise of two banks to pay against conforming documents; the issuing bank and the confirming bank.

How is a Letter of Credit Confirmed?

When negotiating the terms of sale, the seller would require a letter of credit requesting the advising bank to add its confirmation. The buyer includes this request when submitting the application for L/C issuance to his bank. In most instances the issued credit states: "Please advise beneficiary adding your confirmation" or words to similar effect. Note: This is a request, not a requirement. The advising bank for various reasons may decline to add its confirmation and simply advise the L/C without engagement on its part. When adding confirmation, typical language included in the cover letter would be, "We hereby confirm this credit and thereby undertake that all drafts drawn under, and in strict compliance with the terms stated therein (and any further terms stated herein) will be duly honored on presentation and delivery of documents as specified, if presented, at this office on or before the expiry date."

Why Request Confirmation?

The beneficiary may have concerns about the political or economic stability of the buyer's country, or the strength and reputation of the issuing bank. Confirmation by a bank known and convenient to the seller promotes the commercial utility of letters of credit. Also in the event of a dispute, jurisdiction will be determined by the confirming bank's location.