What do you mean by Red Clause Letter Of Credit?

Susan Kelly

Jan 01, 2024

A letter of credit, often known as an LC, is a guarantee a bank provides an exporter that the exporter will receive payment from the importer on time and in the exact amount. Specifically, the bank will be responsible for covering the sum if the importer can no longer pay for the goods.

In international trade, many obstacles can get in the way, such as distance, shipping risk, regulations on importing and exporting, and documentation. In light of these challenges, letters of credit (LCs) provide relief and have become widespread instruments for international trade financing.

Banks and traders have developed numerous iterations of the traditional LC over the years to assist in meeting the ever-evolving demands of businesses. The red clause and the green clause letter of credit LCs are two examples of variations like this.

What Does It Mean By A Red Clause Letter Of Credit?

A red clause letter of credit is a specific kind of paper frequently used when buying agents act on behalf of buyers in business transactions. Before the buyer receives the things they have purchased, the seller can get an advance or loan in this paper. Arranging a loan or advance is frequent when an importer buys goods from merchants in different countries.

To ease the financial burden on the supplier, a red clause letter of credit might guarantee payment of a percentage of the total order value upfront. Sometimes, this down payment is used to organize the shipment of the buyer's order via the delivery options discussed and agreed upon before the purchase's execution. The vendor will subtract the amount of the loan or advance from the invoice once the products have been delivered.

In most cases, the unsecured loan amount will be included as a separate line item on the invoice next to the original total. The loan's payment is subtracted from the total, and the balance is what's owed on order. After the buyer has reviewed and approved the invoice, payment is sent using the agreed-upon method.

How Does The Red Clause Letter Of Credit Work?

First, the buyer and seller negotiate the terms of the LC, including the advance payment amount and any additional conditions. Next, the buyer prepares an application for a red clause LC. Before deciding whether to issue an LC, the issuing bank looks very closely at the applicant's credit history.

The red clause credit list seller is also eligible for advance payments, which the originating bank has approved. These credits are recorded on the LC and count toward the overall amount of the transaction.

When the seller produces the red clause LC for collection, the issuing bank deducts these prepayments. The proportion of the LC amount made available in advance payments to the seller is often determined by the nature of the transaction between the buyer and the seller.

If the buyer has a great deal of faith in the seller's ability to deliver the products reliably, the buyer may agree to pay a sum equal to the full trade value of the goods as an advance payment.

When making an advance payment, it is customary to do it in the seller's currency. These advance payments are made by a correspondent bank, also known as the nominated bank, and are authorized by the issuing bank. Since this permission is written in red ink on a letter of credit, the regular LC is prefaced by the term "red clause."

The seller must provide LC security to the issuing bank during the collection process. More importantly, even if the designated bank makes the advance payments to the vendor, the issuing bank is responsible for any potential losses.

Benefits of Red Clause Of Letter

  • The fact that the seller is given a percentage of the order's total purchase price in advance is one of the advantages of using a letter of credit with a red clause. This advance payment may, in certain instances, act as a mechanism to make arrangements for the shipping of the buyer's order, utilizing delivery options that were agreed upon between the two parties when the purchase was being carried out. After the products have been delivered, the seller will deduct the total amount of the loan or advance from the invoice they produced for the buyer.
  • This mode of payment is advantageous to the purchaser as well. There is no requirement to postpone shipment while the payment is processed because the buyer pays for a portion of the transaction in advance. It eliminates the need to do so.

When the seller finally gets their hands on the letter of credit, the order can be processed and mailed out as early as possible. It typically indicates that the customer will receive the items in a shorter time compared to what would be available with alternative payment methods.

Drawbacks of Red Clause Of Letter

  • There is always the concern that the recipient of advance payment in a business transaction will disappear with the cash. When the seller (the advance recipient) is located in a different country, the potential for loss increases. It is the nature of the risk associated with a red clause letter of credit.
  • Financing for the seller's working capital needs is the primary goal of the red clause letter of credit. He'll have money for supplies, wages, and other expenses. It guarantees the buyer's smooth and timely production of the ordered goods.

However, there remains the risk that the vendor will divert the advance payment for another reason. Sellers have been known to utilize their proceeds to settle old debts. It completely defeats the function of the red clause letter of credit.


When an exporter uses a letter of credit with a red clause, the exporter receives advance payments before the actual shipment of the products to the importer. Under red clause letters of credit, exporters typically obtain advance payments from the banks listed as the issuing institutions inside the letters of credit. There is also the possibility that the importers can pay their advance payments independently of the letters of credit.

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