ICC Digital Library

Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits


This revision of the Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits (commonly called “UCP”) is the sixth revision of the rules since they were first promulgated in 1933. It is the fruit of more than three years of work by the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) Commission on Banking Technique and Practice.

ICC, which was established in 1919, had as its primary objective facilitating the flow of international trade at a time when nationalism and protectionism posed serious threats to the world trading system. It was in that spirit that the UCP were first introduced – to alleviate the confusion caused by individual countries’ promoting their own national rules on letter of credit practice. The objective, since attained, was to create a set of contractual rules that would establish uniformity in that practice, so that practitioners would not have to cope with a plethora of often conflicting national regulations. The universal acceptance of the UCP by practitioners in countries with widely divergent economic and judicial systems is a testament to the rules’ success.

It is important to recall that the UCP represent the work of a private international organization, not a governmental body. Since its inception, ICC has insisted on the central role of self-regulation in business practice. These rules, formulated entirely by experts in the private sector, have validated that approach. The UCP remain the most successful set of private rules for trade ever developed.

A range of individuals and groups contributed to the current revision, which is entitled UCP 600. These include the UCP Drafting Group, which sifted through more than 5000 individual comments before arriving at this consensus text; the UCP Consulting Group, consisting of members from more than 25 countries, which served as the advisory body reacting to and proposing changes to the various drafts; the more than 400 members of the ICC Commission on Banking Technique and Practice who made pertinent suggestions for changes in the text; and ICC national committees worldwide which took an active role in consolidating comments from their members. ICC also expresses its gratitude to practitioners in the transport and insurance industries, whose perceptive suggestions honed the final draft.

Guy Sebban
Secretary General
International Chamber of Commerce