Contingent Guarantee

DEFINITION of 'Contingent Guarantee'

A guarantee of payment made by a third party, known as the guarantor, to the seller or provider of a product or service in the event of non-payment by the buyer. Contingent guarantees are normally used when the suppliers do not have a relationship with their counterpart. The buyer pays a contingent guarantee fee to the guarantor, which is generally a large bank or financial institution.

BREAKING DOWN 'Contingent Guarantee'

Contingent guarantees are a common feature in international trade, especially when vendors conduct business with new customers in overseas markets. Note that a contingent guarantee differs from a letter of credit (LC), which is more commonly used in international trade. The former only comes into effect upon non-payment after a stipulated period by the buyer, whereas a letter of credit is payable by the bank as soon as the seller effects shipment and satisfies the terms of the LC.


Contingent guarantees are also used as a risk-mitigation tool for large projects in nations with a high degree of political or regulatory risk, as well as in certain income-oriented financial instruments.

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