Colombia - Commercial Guide
Methods of Payment

Discusses the most common methods of payment, such as open account, letter of credit, cash in advance, documentary collections, factoring, etc. Includes credit-rating and collection agencies in this country. Includes primary credit or charge cards used in this country.

Last published date: 2019-10-13

Most products are imported through letters of credit or time drafts. Soft and long-term financing is an important sales tool, especially for government imports or public tenders. Foreign suppliers, financial intermediaries in Colombia, or foreign financial institutions, may finance Colombian imports.

Colombian importers may freely negotiate payment terms with their suppliers, but importers must list the agreed payment terms on the import documents and may not subsequently change them. These are generally between one and six months for imported products for immediate consumption, including raw materials, intermediate goods, and consumer goods, with almost no term limitations for capital goods, which are payable within the timetables set on the import documentation, plus a grace period of three additional months. Foreign payments may be authorized in installments, but in no case can the original terms listed on the import documents be changed.

General trade finance is freely available and letters of credit are widely used in Colombia. Methods, terms, and conditions of payment vary with the type of credit. Most imports of equipment are paid via irrevocable 180-day letter of credit (L/C), payable on sight against shipping documents. Normal payment term is 60 days. There are transactional cases in which suppliers may extend terms to 120 days by time draft, but this is not common practice. When a satisfactory trading relationship has been established, terms are those generally applied in international trade. Short-term is considered any term less than one year; medium-term is from one to four years; and, long-term ranges from five years up to 20 years.