A letter of credit is issued by a bank at the request of an importer in  favour of an exporter from whom he has contracted to purchases some commodity or commodities. The importer, the exporter and the issuing bank are parties to the letter of credit. There are however, one or more than one banks that are involved in various capacities and at various stages to play an important role in the total operation of the credit.

i) The opening Bank.
ii) The Advising Bank.
iii) The Buyer and the Beneficiary.
iv) The paying Bank.
v) The negotiating Bank.
vi) The confirming Bank.

i) The opening Bank : The opening Bank is one that issues the letter of credit at the request of the buyer. By issuing a letter of credit it takes upon itself the liability to pay the bills drawn under the credit. If the drafts are negotiated by the another bank, the opening Bank reimburses that Bank. As soon as the opening Bank, issuing a letter of credit (L/C), it express its undertaking to pay the bill or bills as and when they are drawn by the beneficiary under the credit. When the bills are presented to or when antic is received that bills have been presented to a paying or negotiating Banks its liability matures.

ii) The Advising Bank : The letter of credit is often transmitted to the beneficiary through a bank in the latters country. The bank may be a branch or a correspondent of the opening bank. The credit is some times advised to this bank by cable and is then transmitted by it to the beneficiary on its own special form. On the other occasions, the letter is sent to the bank by mail or telex and forwarded by it to the exporter. The bank providing this services is known as the advising bank. The advising bank undertakes the responsibility of prompt advice of credit to the beneficiary and has to be careful in communicating all its details.

iii) The Buyer and the Beneficiary : The importer at whose request a letter of credit is issued is known as the buyer. On the strength of the contract that he makes with the exporter for the purchase of some goods that the letter of credit is opened by the opening bank.

The exporter in whose favour the credit is opened and to whom the letter of credit is addressed is known as the beneficiary. As the seller of goods he is entitled to receive payment which he does by drawing bills under the letter of credit (L/C). As soon as he has shipped the goods and has collected the required documents, he draws a set of papers and presents it with the documents to the opening bank or some other bank mentioned in the L/C.

iv) The paying Bank : The paying bank only pays the drafts drawn under the credit but under takes no opening bank, by debating the latters accounts with it if there is such an account or by any other measured up, between the two bankers. As soon as the beneficiary has received payment for the draft, he is out of the picture and the rest of the operation concerns only the paying bank and the opening bank.

v) The Negotiating bank : The negotiating bank has to be careful in scrutinize that the drafts and the documents attached there to are in conformity with the condition laid down in the L/C. Any discrepancy may result in refused on the part of the opening bank to honour the instruments is such an eventuality the negotiating bank has to look back to the beneficiary for refund of the amounts paid to him.

vi) The Confirming Bank : Sometimes an exporter stipulates that a L/C issued in his favour be confirm by a bank in his own country. The opening this country to add its confirming to the credit the bank confirming the credit is known as the confirming bank and the credit is known as confirmed credit.