10 Terms You Need to Know to Get Paid for Your Exports

Being paid on time as an exporter is everyone’s dream. But, to understand how the payment structure works, you’ll want to know some of the words and jargon associated with exports.

Discover the crucial steps to ensure payment for your exports. Learn about consignment, letters of credit, bank drafts, and more. Expand your knowledge and secure your international trade transactions.

Methods of Payment in International Trade

In the global market keeping your customer satisfied and satisfied with your product is the most important factor for success. So, when you can guarantee this, you are more likely to get a higher sales volume. I’ll teach you 10 terms you need to know to get paid for your exports.


Related words: consignment, export consignment, consignment agreement, consignee, consignor

Consignment is a common practice in international trade, particularly in export transactions. It involves an arrangement where an exporter sends goods to a buyer in another country who will sell the goods on behalf of the exporter. The exporter retains ownership of the goods until they are sold.

To understand consignment in export transactions, it’s important to know the key elements involved. These include the consignment agreement, the roles of the exporter and buyer, and the risks associated with this arrangement.

A consignment agreement is a contract between the exporter and buyer that outlines the terms of the consignment. It specifies details like how long the agreement will last, the price of the goods, and other important factors. This agreement helps both parties understand their responsibilities during the consignment process.

In a consignment arrangement, the exporter sends the goods to the buyer who acts as an intermediary, selling the goods to customers. The buyer has knowledge of the local market and established distribution channels, which benefits the exporter by expanding their reach.

Consignment offers advantages for exporters, such as the ability to test new markets or enter foreign markets without significant upfront investment. It allows exporters to gauge market demand and evaluate potential long-term business relationships.

However, consignment also comes with risks. The exporter retains ownership of the goods until they are sold, which means they bear the risk of loss or damage during transportation or while in the possession of the buyer. It’s important for exporters to have proper insurance to protect their interests.

Another risk is the potential for payment delays or non-payment by the buyer. The buyer may face difficulties in selling the goods or encounter financial issues, leading to payment problems. Exporters should carefully assess the financial stability and credibility of the buyer before entering into a consignment agreement.

To mitigate risks and ensure a successful consignment arrangement, exporters should follow best practices. These include conducting due diligence on potential buyers, maintaining clear communication, monitoring sales and inventory, and having well-drafted consignment agreements.

In conclusion, consignment in export transactions allows exporters to expand their business into new markets. It provides an opportunity to leverage the buyer’s local knowledge and distribution channels. However, exporters need to be aware of the associated risks and take necessary precautions. By following best practices and establishing strong consignment agreements, exporters can increase their chances of success in international trade.

2.Open Account (O/A)

Related words: open account, export payment terms, credit terms, buyer-seller relationship

Open Account (O/A) is a commonly used payment term in international trade. It refers to an arrangement where the exporter ships goods to the buyer without requiring upfront payment. Instead, the buyer agrees to pay within a specified timeframe after receiving the goods.

Understanding Open Account terms in international trade is important for both exporters and importers. This payment method offers advantages and considerations that need to be carefully evaluated.

For exporters, Open Account terms can be attractive as they allow for easier market entry and can foster stronger relationships with buyers. By offering credit terms, exporters can enhance their competitiveness and attract more customers. However, there are risks associated with Open Account terms, such as the potential for payment delays or non-payment by the buyer. Exporters need to assess the buyer’s creditworthiness and establish a level of trust before engaging in an Open Account agreement.

Importers also benefit from Open Account terms as they can receive the goods before making payment. This allows them to manage their cash flow and potentially negotiate better terms with the exporter. However, importers must fulfill their payment obligations within the agreed timeframe to maintain a good reputation and secure future trade opportunities.

To ensure a successful Open Account transaction, both parties should establish clear communication channels and have a thorough understanding of the payment terms. It is advisable for exporters to conduct credit checks on potential buyers, utilizing resources such as credit reports or financial statements. Establishing a solid relationship with the buyer, based on trust and mutual understanding, is crucial in Open Account transactions.

Exporters can also mitigate the risk of non-payment by using additional tools such as trade credit insurance or seeking guarantees from financial institutions. These measures provide an extra layer of protection and peace of mind.

In summary, Open Account (O/A) is a payment method that offers advantages and challenges in international trade. Exporters can expand their market reach and foster relationships with buyers, but they need to assess the buyer’s creditworthiness and mitigate the risk of non-payment. Importers benefit from better cash flow management but must fulfill their payment obligations promptly. Clear communication, credit checks, and additional safeguards can help ensure successful Open Account transactions.

3.Letter of Credit (L/C)

Related words: L/C types, L/C process, L/C advantages

A Letter of Credit (L/C) is a widely used payment method in international trade that provides security and trust for both the exporter and importer involved in a transaction. It serves as a guarantee of payment from the importer’s bank to the exporter, ensuring that the exporter will be paid once the terms and conditions of the L/C are met.

Understanding how a Letter of Credit works is crucial for exporters and importers engaging in cross-border trade. The L/C process involves several key steps to ensure a smooth and secure transaction.

First, the importer applies for a Letter of Credit from their bank, known as the issuing bank. The L/C specifies the amount, expiry date, and terms and conditions agreed upon by both parties. The issuing bank then sends the L/C to the exporter’s bank, called the advising bank, which informs the exporter of the L/C’s arrival.

Upon receiving the L/C, the exporter reviews the terms and conditions to ensure they can fulfill the requirements. If everything is acceptable, the exporter proceeds with shipping the goods to the importer. The exporter presents the required documents, such as commercial invoices, packing lists, and bill of lading, to the advising bank.

The advising bank carefully examines the documents to verify their compliance with the terms of the L/C. If the documents are in order, the advising bank forwards them to the issuing bank for payment. The issuing bank then reviews the documents and, if satisfied, makes the payment to the exporter as specified in the L/C.

A Letter of Credit provides a level of security for both parties involved. For exporters, it minimizes the risk of non-payment, as they have assurance from the importer’s bank that payment will be made once the required documents are presented correctly. Importers benefit from the confidence that the goods will be shipped as agreed before payment is made.

However, it’s important to note that the L/C process can be complex and time-consuming. Both parties need to be diligent in understanding the terms and ensuring that the required documents are prepared accurately. Any discrepancies can lead to delays in payment or even non-payment.

A Letter of Credit (L/C) is a valuable payment method in international trade that provides security and trust for exporters and importers. It involves a series of steps, from the issuance of the L/C to the presentation of documents for payment. While the L/C process can be intricate, it offers protection against non-payment and helps facilitate smoother trade transactions between parties.

4.Bank Draft and Transmittal Letter

Related words: international payment, payment instructions

Bank Draft and Transmittal Letter are important components in international trade transactions that involve the transfer of funds from one party to another. Understanding the purpose and process of Bank Drafts and Transmittal Letters is crucial for exporters and importers engaged in cross-border trade.

A Bank Draft is a payment instrument issued by a bank on behalf of the buyer/importer. It is a type of check that guarantees payment to the exporter/seller. The Bank Draft is drawn on the buyer’s bank and is payable to the exporter. It serves as a secure and convenient method of payment, providing assurance to the exporter that they will receive the funds.

A Transmittal Letter accompanies the Bank Draft and is used to convey important instructions and details related to the payment. It serves as a formal document that provides information about the purpose of the payment, the parties involved, and any specific requirements or conditions. The Transmittal Letter ensures clarity and accuracy in the payment process, reducing the potential for misunderstandings or errors.

The process of using Bank Drafts and Transmittal Letters begins with the buyer requesting a Bank Draft from their bank. The buyer provides the necessary information, such as the amount, beneficiary details, and any specific instructions. The bank then issues the Bank Draft, which is sent to the exporter along with the Transmittal Letter.

Upon receiving the Bank Draft and Transmittal Letter, the exporter verifies the details and ensures they match the agreed-upon terms of the transaction. The exporter then presents the Bank Draft to their bank for payment. The exporter’s bank will process the Bank Draft, verify its authenticity, and credit the funds to the exporter’s account.

Bank Drafts and Transmittal Letters provide a level of security for both parties involved in the transaction. The exporter is assured of receiving payment as the Bank Draft guarantees the availability of funds. The buyer benefits from the convenience and traceability of the payment process, knowing that the funds will be transferred to the exporter’s account.

It is important for exporters and importers to maintain open communication and exchange necessary documentation, such as invoices and shipping documents, along with the Bank Draft and Transmittal Letter. This ensures transparency and facilitates a smooth payment process.

In summary, Bank Drafts and Transmittal Letters play a significant role in facilitating secure and efficient payments in international trade. Bank Drafts provide assurance to exporters, while Transmittal Letters convey important details related to the payment. By understanding and implementing these payment methods correctly, exporters and importers can facilitate smooth financial transactions and strengthen their business relationships.

5.Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits

Related words: UCP, documentary credits, ICC rules, international trade guidelines

The Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits (UCP) is a set of internationally recognized rules that govern the use of documentary credits in international trade transactions. The UCP provides guidelines and standard practices to ensure clarity, consistency, and fairness in the process of using documentary credits.

Understanding the UCP is essential for exporters, importers, and banks involved in international trade. The UCP establishes a common framework that facilitates smooth transactions and minimizes the risk of disputes or misunderstandings.

The UCP outlines the rights and obligations of the various parties involved in a documentary credit transaction. It covers aspects such as the issuance and examination of documents, the roles of banks, and the liability of parties in case of discrepancies or non-compliance with the agreed terms.

For exporters, adherence to the UCP is crucial when preparing the required documents for presentation to the issuing bank. The UCP provides a standardized checklist of documents that need to be included and specific requirements that must be met. By complying with the UCP, exporters increase their chances of receiving payment and minimize the risk of delays or rejection.

Importers also benefit from the UCP as it ensures that they receive the necessary documents to take possession of the goods and clear them through customs. The UCP establishes a framework that ensures the importers’ interests are protected and that the goods conform to the agreed-upon terms.

Banks play a vital role in documentary credit transactions, and the UCP provides them with clear guidelines on their responsibilities. The UCP sets out the procedures banks should follow when examining documents, making payments, and resolving disputes. By adhering to the UCP, banks can ensure consistency and reliability in their operations.

It is important for all parties involved in a documentary credit transaction to familiarize themselves with the UCP and incorporate its provisions into their agreements and practices. This includes understanding the terminology used in the UCP and staying updated with any revisions or amendments made to the rules.

In summary, the Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits (UCP) serves as a comprehensive guide for the use of documentary credits in international trade. It promotes standardization, transparency, and fairness in transactions, benefiting exporters, importers, and banks alike. By adhering to the UCP, parties can navigate the complexities of documentary credit transactions more effectively and mitigate the risk of disputes or non-compliance.

6.Cash in Advance

Related words: upfront payment, export payment methods

Cash in Advance is a payment method commonly used in international trade where the exporter requires payment from the buyer before shipping the goods. It is a straightforward and secure payment option that provides peace of mind to exporters.

Understanding Cash in Advance is essential for exporters and importers engaged in cross-border trade. This payment method offers advantages and considerations that need to be carefully evaluated.

For exporters, Cash in Advance provides immediate payment, reducing the risk of non-payment or payment delays. It ensures that the exporter receives payment before the goods are shipped, providing financial security and minimizing the need for credit checks or extensive documentation.

Cash in Advance also benefits importers as it eliminates the need to establish credit or deal with complex payment processes. By making the payment upfront, importers can demonstrate their commitment and trustworthiness to the exporter, which can lead to stronger business relationships.

However, there are factors to consider when using Cash in Advance. Importers may be hesitant to make full payment upfront, especially when dealing with unfamiliar exporters or high-value transactions. Exporters should provide clear documentation and establish trust with the importer to alleviate any concerns.

To implement Cash in Advance effectively, both parties should establish clear communication and negotiate the terms of the payment. The payment amount, currency, payment method, and timeframe should be agreed upon to ensure a smooth transaction.

For exporters, it is important to consider the costs associated with receiving payments in advance, such as bank fees or foreign exchange charges. Exporters should also assess the creditworthiness of the importer and consider using escrow services or other secure payment mechanisms to provide additional protection.

Cash in Advance is a straightforward and secure payment method in international trade. It offers immediate payment to exporters and simplifies the payment process for importers. While it provides financial security, exporters should establish trust and consider the costs and potential concerns associated with this payment method. By establishing clear communication and negotiating the terms, both parties can benefit from a successful Cash in Advance transaction.

7.Telegraphic Transfer

Related words: T/T, international wire transfer, electronic payment

Telegraphic Transfer, commonly known as TT or wire transfer, is a widely used payment method in international trade. It allows for the quick and secure transfer of funds from the buyer/importer’s bank to the seller/exporter’s bank.

Understanding Telegraphic Transfer is essential for exporters and importers engaged in cross-border transactions. This payment method offers advantages and considerations that should be carefully evaluated.

For exporters, Telegraphic Transfer provides a fast and reliable means of receiving payment. Once the buyer has initiated the transfer, the funds are electronically transferred to the exporter’s bank account, ensuring prompt payment. This method is especially beneficial for exporters who require immediate funds to fulfill their financial obligations.

Importers also benefit from Telegraphic Transfer as it provides a secure and convenient way to transfer funds internationally. By using this method, importers can make timely payments to their suppliers, ensuring smooth business operations. It eliminates the need for physical checks or lengthy processing times associated with traditional payment methods.

To implement Telegraphic Transfer effectively, both parties need to establish clear communication and agree on the details of the payment. The buyer must provide the necessary information, such as the exporter’s bank account details and any required reference numbers, to initiate the transfer. The exporter should ensure that the provided information is accurate to avoid any payment delays or errors.

It is important to consider the fees associated with Telegraphic Transfer, as banks typically charge a fee for processing the transaction. Both the buyer and the seller should be aware of these fees and factor them into the overall cost of the transaction.

Furthermore, exporters should be cautious of potential fraud or unauthorized transactions. It is crucial to verify the authenticity of the buyer’s request and to confirm the details of the Telegraphic Transfer with the buyer directly.

In summary, Telegraphic Transfer is a widely used payment method in international trade that offers speed and security. It enables exporters to receive prompt payments and importers to make timely payments to their suppliers. Clear communication, accurate information, and awareness of associated fees are essential for a successful Telegraphic Transfer transaction. By understanding and implementing this payment method effectively, exporters and importers can facilitate smooth and efficient cross-border transactions.

8.EXIM Bank

EXIM Bank, short for Export-Import Bank, is a government agency that promotes and supports international trade by providing financing and insurance services to exporters and importers. Understanding the role and functions of EXIM Bank is essential for businesses engaged in cross-border trade.

EXIM Bank plays a crucial role in facilitating trade by offering a range of financial products and services. Its primary objective is to support and strengthen the competitiveness of domestic companies in the global marketplace.

For exporters, EXIM Bank provides export credit insurance that protects against non-payment and other risks associated with international trade. This insurance coverage gives exporters confidence to explore new markets and extend credit terms to their buyers. It also helps exporters secure financing by providing guarantees to banks or other lenders.

Importers can also benefit from EXIM Bank’s services. They can access working capital loans or trade financing options to support their import activities. This enables importers to manage their cash flow, negotiate favorable terms with suppliers, and enhance their purchasing power.

In addition to insurance and financing, EXIM Bank offers various programs and initiatives to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in their international trade efforts. These programs may include counseling, training, and resources to help SMEs navigate the complexities of global markets.

To leverage the services of EXIM Bank, businesses need to understand the eligibility criteria and application process. Typically, companies need to meet certain requirements, such as being registered in the country of operation and complying with relevant regulations.

It is important for businesses to carefully assess their needs and evaluate the available services and products offered by EXIM Bank. They should consider factors such as the cost of services, the level of risk coverage, and the potential benefits for their specific trade activities.

In conclusion, EXIM Bank plays a vital role in supporting international trade by providing financing, insurance, and other services to exporters and importers. It helps businesses mitigate risks, enhance competitiveness, and explore new market opportunities. By understanding and utilizing the services of EXIM Bank effectively, businesses can strengthen their global presence and achieve success in the international marketplace.

9. Incoterms

Incoterms, or International Commercial Terms, are a set of standardized trade terms used in international transactions. They provide clarity and consistency in defining the responsibilities, costs, and risks associated with the delivery of goods from the seller to the buyer.

Understanding Incoterms is crucial for exporters and importers as they determine crucial aspects of the transaction, such as the point of delivery, transfer of risk, and allocation of costs. By selecting the appropriate Incoterms, both parties can clearly establish their obligations and avoid misunderstandings or disputes.

Incoterms define who is responsible for arranging and paying for transportation, insurance, customs clearance, and other related activities. For example, under the term EXW (Ex Works), the seller’s responsibility ends when they make the goods available at their premises, while under the term CIF (Cost, Insurance, and Freight), the seller is responsible for arranging and paying for transportation and insurance up to the named destination port.

These trade terms also determine when the risk of loss or damage to the goods transfers from the seller to the buyer. For instance, under FOB (Free on Board), the risk passes to the buyer once the goods are loaded onto the vessel, while under DDP (Delivered Duty Paid), the risk remains with the seller until the goods are delivered to the buyer’s premises.

By understanding Incoterms, exporters can negotiate favorable terms that suit their specific needs. They can assess the risks involved in each term and determine the most appropriate one based on factors such as the nature of the goods, the shipping route, and the level of control and visibility required.

Importers benefit from understanding Incoterms as well, as they can accurately estimate the total cost of the transaction, including transportation, customs duties, and insurance. By knowing their responsibilities and costs upfront, importers can plan their logistics and budget more effectively.

It is important to note that Incoterms do not address the transfer of ownership or payment terms. These aspects should be clearly defined in the sales contract or agreement between the parties.

In summary, Incoterms are essential for exporters and importers to establish clear terms and conditions for international trade transactions. By understanding and applying the appropriate Incoterms, both parties can effectively manage risks, allocate costs, and ensure a smooth and successful transaction from start to finish.


Arbitration is a widely used method for resolving disputes in international trade. It provides a fair and efficient alternative to traditional court litigation, offering parties a more streamlined and cost-effective approach to resolving conflicts.

Understanding arbitration is crucial for businesses engaged in cross-border trade, as it provides a means to address disagreements that may arise during commercial transactions. Arbitration offers several advantages over litigation, including flexibility, neutrality, and enforceability.

Arbitration is a consensual process where parties agree to submit their dispute to one or more neutral individuals, known as arbitrators. These arbitrators are typically experts in the field related to the dispute and are chosen by the parties or appointed by a designated arbitration institution.

One of the main benefits of arbitration is its flexibility. Parties have the freedom to determine the rules and procedures that will govern their arbitration, allowing them to tailor the process to suit their specific needs. This flexibility often results in a faster resolution compared to traditional court proceedings.

Another advantage of arbitration is its neutrality. Unlike litigation in a specific country’s court system, arbitration can be conducted in a neutral venue or under neutral rules, providing a level playing field for both parties. This can help ensure a fair and impartial decision-making process.

Enforceability is also a significant advantage of arbitration. Many countries are signatories to international conventions that recognize and enforce arbitration awards. This means that an arbitral decision can often be enforced in multiple jurisdictions, providing parties with a more globally enforceable outcome.

To engage in arbitration effectively, it is essential to include an arbitration clause in contracts or agreements. This clause should clearly specify the rules, procedures, and governing law of the arbitration. Parties should also consider the qualifications and expertise of potential arbitrators and choose an appropriate arbitration institution to administer the process.

In summary, arbitration provides an efficient and reliable method for resolving disputes in international trade. Its flexibility, neutrality, and enforceability make it an attractive alternative to litigation. By understanding the principles and procedures of arbitration and including appropriate clauses in contracts, businesses can effectively address and resolve conflicts that may arise in their international trade activities.

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