What is a transferable Letter of Credit?

A transferable letter of credit is one, which specifically states that it is
transferable. This will only occur if the applicant for the letter of credit
(buyer) agrees. In a transferable letter of credit, the rights and
obligations of the beneficiary are transferred to another party, usually a
manufacturer or wholesaler. Transfer may be either full or partial.

Why transfer an L/C?

Most transfers involve a seller who, as beneficiary of the letter of credit,
has a pending sale, but is unable to purchase the merchandise from
the manufacturer on open account. Export brokers most often use
transferable L/Cs. Transferring a portion of the export L/C to the
manufacturer allows the broker to leverage the buyer's banker's credit
by providing the manufacturer with assurance of payment if the
manufacturer performs under the transferred L/C terms and conditions.

What criteria apply to transfers?

Transfer of letters of credit is governed by Article 48 of the Uniform
Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits (UCP 500)  which
states that banks are under no obligation to transfer a credit except to
the extent and in the manner expressly consented to.  Furthermore, the
transferring bank must be specifically named in the letter of credit as
the bank authorized to effect the transfer.

Transfer criteria vary from bank to bank, but may include such
requirements as:

-  The transferor being a customer of the transferring bank.

-  "Negotiation" of the credit being restricted to the transferring bank.

-  The issuing bank being a correspondent of the transferring bank.

-  All terms and conditions of the credit being acceptable to the
transferring bank.

What if the L/C does not meet the bank's transfer criteria?

The bank retains the right to decline a transfer request. It may consent
if certain terms and conditions of the letter of credit are amended to
meet its requirements. Any amendment to a letter of credit is subject to
agreement of the buyer, the buyer's bank, and the beneficiary who is
requesting the transfer.  Banks retain the right to decline any transfer

What can be changed when transferring a Letter of Credit?

Article 48 of the UCP 500 limits changes to the following:

-  The L/C amount may be reduced.

-  Unit prices may be reduced.

-  The expiry and latest shipping dates may be curtailed.

-  The time period after the date of shipment for presenting documents
to the bank may be curtailed.

-  The name of the beneficiary is substituted for the name of the
applicant (buyer), but if the applicant's name is required to be stated in
any document other than the invoice, this requirement must be
adhered to.

-  If an insurance document is required, the coverage may be
increased to provide coverage as required by the original L/C.

-  The place of payment or negotiation may be changed to the location
of the transferee.

Will the supplier and the buyer be able to identify each other?

Probably so, even if the bills of lading do not give the buyer as
"consignee" and the "notify party" is shown as the buyer's customs
broker.  All of the seller's documents (except for invoice and draft) are
forwarded to the buyer through their banks, and a packing list should
have the seller's name and address.

Transferable Letters of Credit