Step-by-Step Guide: How Does a Standby Letter of Credit Work?

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Have you ever wondered how does a standby letter of credit work international trade transactions are secured? Well, one of the ways is through a standby letter of credit. In this article, we will dive deep into the world of standby letters of credit and explore how they work. So, let’s get started!

What is a Standby Letter of Credit?

A standby letter of credit (SBLC) is a financial instrument used in international trade to provide security for transactions between two parties. It acts as a guarantee from the issuing bank to the beneficiary, ensuring that payment will be made if certain conditions are not met.

How Does it Work?

  • Application: The process begins when the applicant (usually the buyer) submits a request for a standby letter of credit to the issuing bank. The application includes details of the transaction, such as the amount, beneficiary, and conditions.
  • Issuance: Upon receiving the application, the issuing bank evaluates the applicant’s creditworthiness and decides whether to issue the standby letter of credit. If approved, the issuing bank will issue the SBLC in favor of the beneficiary (usually the seller).
  • Delivery: The standby letter of credit is then delivered to the beneficiary, who can use it as collateral or assurance of payment.
  • Conditions: The standby letter of credit will specify the conditions that must be met for payment to be made. These conditions are usually related to the buyer’s default or failure to fulfill their obligations.
  • Presentation of Documents: If the buyer fails to meet their obligations, the beneficiary can present the required documents to the issuing bank as evidence of non-performance. These documents can include invoices, shipping documents, or other relevant paperwork.
  • Payment: Upon verifying the non-performance of the buyer, the issuing bank will make payment to the beneficiary as specified in the standby letter of credit.

Advantages of Standby Letters of Credit

  • Security: Standby letters of credit provide security for both the buyer and the seller, ensuring that payment will be made if certain conditions are not met.
  • International Trade: SBLCs are commonly used in international trade transactions, where parties may not have a well-established relationship or trust.
  • Flexibility: Standby letters of credit can be customized to meet the specific needs of the parties involved, allowing for flexibility in the transaction.


Understanding how standby letters of credit work is essential for anyone involved in international trade. It provides security and assurance of payment, making transactions smoother and more reliable. So, the next time you engage in international trade, remember the power of standby letters of credit!

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