Understanding dates of the trade documents in letters of credit transactions.


Whatever your position in an international letter of credit transaction, whether you are an export specialist in a small manufacturing company, an import responsible in a medium size international trade firm or a trade finance expert in one of the first class banks, you should always be very careful with the dates of the documents.

The dates of the documents are one of the major sources of discrepancies. This is not only my claim, but also supported by evidences.

Significant amount of ICC Opinions are issued related to this subject for the last 25 years.

How to Deal with Dates of the Documents When Working with a Letter of Credit?

Make Sure That Each Document is Properly Dated: As a general rule each letter of credit document should be dated. The documents are expected to be dated after the issuance date of the credit, but not later than the presentation date.

Important Note: The letter of credit rules allow presentation of undated documents.

Additionally, documents dated prior to the issuance date of the credit is also acceptable under the letters of credit rules.

However, the issuing banks prevent presentation of such documents via additional conditions such as:

  • All documents including transport documents must be dated but not dated prior to the issuance date of this credit.
  • All required documents date should be later than issue date of this later of credit
  • All documents must be dated and made out in English language

Follow the Instructions Indicated in the Letter of Credit: Some of the letters of credit may contain special conditions regarding the dates of the documents such as:

  • Shipment dated before 16/11/2018 not acceptable (blocking regulatory condition).
  • First shipment is to be effected on or before 50 days from L/C issuance date.

If the letter of credit contains a clause as indicated above, the beneficiaries must act accordingly.

Make Sure That You are Using L/C Terminology Correctly: Some word have special meanings under the letter of credit rules such as:

  • The term “within” when used in connection with a date excludes that date in the calculation of the period.
  • within 2 days after” indicates a period from the date of the event until 2 days after the event.
  • not later than 2 days after” does not indicate a period, only a latest date. If an advice must not be dated prior to a specific date, the credit must so state.
  • at least 2 days before” indicates that something must take place not later than 2 days before an event. There is no limit as to how early it may take place.
    within 2 days of” indicates a period 2 days prior to the event until 2 days after the event.

Special Suggestions From the International Standard Banking Practice – ISBP 2007

  • Drafts, transport documents and insurance documents must be dated even if a credit does not expressly so require.
  • Documents must not indicate that they were issued after the date they are presented.
  • Any document, including a certificate of analysis, inspection certificate and pre-shipment inspection certificate, may be dated after the date of shipment. However, if a credit requires a document evidencing a pre-shipment event (e.g., pre-shipment inspection certificate), the document must, either by its title or content, indicate that the event (e.g., inspection) took place prior to or on the date of shipment.
  • A document indicating a date of preparation and a later date of signing is deemed to be issued on the date of signing.
  • Dates may be expressed in different formats, e.g., the 12th of November 2007 could be expressed as 12 Nov 07, 12Nov07, 12.11.2007, 12.11.07, 2007.11.12, 11.12.07, 121107, etc. Provided that the date intended can be determined from the document or from other documents included in the presentation, any of these formats are acceptable.
  • To avoid confusion it is recommended that the name of the month should be used instead of the number.