With the implementation of UCP 600 on 1 July 2007, the Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits (UCP) have existed for more than 70 years. While I have done a significant amount of research into the history of letter of credit rules and the UCP, I am sure there are historical developments that may not be reflected here. I know that individual country rules existed prior to the UCP, but over the years I have been unable to obtain copies of documents other than those in the United States and Denmark. I started this research in 1990 using the files of the International Financial Services Association (IFSA), which are quite extensive. These files include originals of the early rules created in the United States beginning in 1920 and originals of the all of the UCP publications, as well as notes and papers of many of the working groups that drafted these rules.

There were many who assisted in the accumulation of the history and documents contained in this book. In particular I would like to thank Professor Boris Kozolczhyk for assisting in finding some of the earlier UCP drafts and Professor James Byrne for first publishing some of the rules and a brief history of the UCP. In addition, I owe significant gratitude to the late Henry Harfield, a lawyer with Sherman and Sterling in New York. Henry was involved in many of the early revisions of the UCP and had a personal friendship and co-authored many articles and publications with Wilbert Ward, National City Bank (now Citibank), the United States representative to ICC in the 1920s, who proposed to ICC that they create international rules. Some of the history contained here comes from the personal recollections of Henry based on his participation in drafting some of the early rules, his discussions with Wilbert Ward and their publication, Bank Credits and Acceptances. I also thank the IFSA for the opportunity to personally participate in two of the revisions of the UCP (400 and 500), for permission to use material from the IFSA files and to write this book.

My aim in compiling all of the rules, adding some history and providing some highlights of the changes of each revision, has not been to provide the “definitive history” or to provide a comprehensive analysis of every change in each revision. My basic goal is to share with the letter of credit community all of the material I have collected and to provide ICC with as complete as possible collection of their work.

This book is dedicated to all those who have contributed to the original texts of letter of credit rules and all who have contributed to the revisions of the UCP. The names of most have been lost to history. Without the knowledge and efforts of these dedicated individuals (and the support of their organizations), the industry would not have had such excellent guidance in the development of these letter of credit rules.