It was nearly 30 years ago when I did the paperwork for the first letter of credit or documentary credit. It was love at first sight. There was something intriguing in the payment method as such. How can a humanist like me be fond of something that is so attached to money, to business, to figures? Ah, perhaps it is the form, the contents, the possibility to be creative within the firmly set borders.
There are strict rules of usage, I’ve seen two sets of rules so far UCP 500 and UCP 600, I don’t refer to ISP98 – that is a whole different story. But in a big international company you are prepared to see a whole variety of different compositions within the rules. Some issuing banks use a big brush and give just outlines and the minimum amount of instructions and requirements, when others – they just won’t give you any room for creativity. There just are’t any commas or dots you can add on your own.
Now we come to creativity. Is it really so that the difficult ones take out your creativity. No, it is not. The more the bank gives you requirements and instructions the more you have to think how you can fit it all into the official invoice template of your company that is these days mainly produced by the ERP. That is the real challenge and sometimes the outcome is a real work of art. And this is only the invoice. There could be a dozen of other documents to be created…
Bill of Lading is one of the most essential documents to be presented to the bank. That is created in the cooperation with the shipping company or freight forwarder and some times with the applicant (buyer) and the beneficiary (seller). The Bill of Lading is written on the form with destricted fields and it sometimes requires a lot of imagination to fit in all the needed information that will satisfy the requirements of the import authorities, customer, shipping company and the bank.
However as a conclusion I think a piece of advice that keeps all parties satisfied fits into a small word. KISS (= keep it short and simple).