Negotiable Instruments: Its Definition and Types


Key takeaway:

  • Negotiable instruments are documents used in commercial transactions that can be transferred from one party to another as a form of payment. This includes promissory notes, bills of exchange, and cheques.
  • Promissory notes are written promises to pay a specific amount of money to a specific person, often used in personal loans or financing agreements. Bills of exchange are written orders from one party to another to pay a specific amount of money on a specific date, often used in international trade transactions. Cheques are written orders from a bank account holder to their bank to pay a specific amount of money to a specific person or entity.
  • Examples of negotiable instruments include a promissory note for a car loan, a bill of exchange for an international shipment of goods, and a cheque used to pay for a business expense. Understanding and utilizing these instruments can provide advantages such as increased flexibility and security in transactions.

If you're looking to better understand financial instruments and the legalities surrounding them, this article is here to help. You'll get a detailed overview of the different types of negotiable instruments, as well as real-life examples. Unlock the mysteries of financial instruments today!

Definition of Negotiable Instruments

Negotiable instruments refer to written documents that represent a promise of payment and can be transferred from one person to another. These instruments have certain legal qualities that make them easily transferable, such as being unconditional and payable to the bearer.

Negotiable instruments are broadly classified into three types:

  1. Promissory notes are created when one person promises to pay a certain amount to another at a future date.
  2. Bills of exchange are used in trade transactions where one party orders another party to make payments.
  3. Checks are a type of bill of exchange that is drawn on a bank and is payable on demand by the account holder.

It is important to note that negotiable instruments are legal documents and can be subject to certain legal requirements and regulations.

One unique feature of negotiable instruments is that they can be transferred from one party to another without affecting the underlying obligation to make payment. For example, a promissory note can be transferred by endorsement or delivery, and the new holder can enforce the payment obligation against the original promisor. However, any transfer of a negotiable instrument must be done in accordance with the legal requirements to maintain its negotiability.

According to the U.S. Uniform Commercial Code, a negotiable instrument must meet certain requirements such as the promise or order to pay, a specific amount of money, and unconditional payment on demand or at a specific date. Additionally, the parties involved in a negotiable instrument must be identifiable, and the instrument must be signed by the maker or drawer.

A true fact about negotiable instruments is that the earliest known use of a bill of exchange can be traced back to ancient Rome, where they were used by traders to make payments across different regions.

Types of Negotiable Instruments

Check out the "Negotiable Instruments: Definition, Types, and Examples" article. It has a section on types of negotiable instruments. Three sub-sections are included. They explain promissory notes, bills of exchange, and cheques. You can use them to solve different negotiable instrument issues.

Promissory Notes

Promissory instruments, legal contracts that lay out a promise to pay a sum of money on demand or at a specific time in the future are widely utilized in financial transactions. These commitments are usually created by individuals who require monetary assistance and can be used as collateral for loans and debt obligations. These investment securities can vary depending on their features, ranging from simple notes to complicated bonds.

Promissory notes are commonly used to fund businesses' operations, make personal investments, or give loans to friends and family members. This legally binding contract dictates the terms of payment and consequences if violated.

Notes come in various types, such as demand notes, installment notes, unsecured notes, and secured notes. The details provided within these variations will affect the validity and enforceability of the document.

While promissory notes have long been utilized throughout history, their use continues to grow extensively due to technological advancements resulting in more convenient digital versions.

In ancient China over 1000 years ago during the Tang Dynasty period, "jiaozi" - paper certificates one's government issued were being used among traders for a loan-making similar to today s promissory notes.

Pay the bill, or the bill will pay you in the form of a bill of exchange.

Bill of Exchange

A monetary document that is drawn up by a payee and specifies the sum of money owed to them from a payer at a certain future date is referred to as 'Order for Payment.'

TypeFeatures Sight billPayer needs to pay immediately upon presentation of the bill. Time billThe payment is due after a specific period, usually 30, 60, or 90 days, from the date it was issued. Maturity billThe payment is due on a predetermined date in the future.

Sight bills are widely used for quick transactions while time bills are preferred for long-duration agreements. On the other hand, maturity bills carry more risk as there's no insurance if payments are not made on time.

It's notable that Order for Payment instruments were widely used during WWII according to Investopedia.

Why settle for one signature when you can have two? That's the power of a cheque.


The negotiable instrument used for payments, mainly in business transactions, is an exchange order. This document is commonly known as a payment slip or banknote. Cheques are one form of a negotiable instrument that allows the transfer of money.

Cheques are a written document that orders a bank to make payments either to an individual or entity. It is signed by the account holder, also known as the drawer, and issued to another party for deposit or cash withdrawal.

Cheques come in different types, such as bearer cheque, order cheque, crossed cheque and post-dated cheque. The Bearer cheque is payable at any bank branch; on the other hand, the Order cheque is payable only to the person named in the document. Crossed Cheque can only be deposited into accounts with banks within its jurisdiction, while Post-Dated Cheque will only become active on a future date.

Pro Tip: Make sure there's enough balance in your bank account before you issue a Cheque to avoid legal implications due to bounced payments.

Negotiable instruments are like coupons, but instead of discounts you get cash, and instead of paper cuts you get hand cramps.

Examples of Negotiable Instruments

Understand negotiable instruments better? Let's take a closer look! Here are examples of promissory notes, bill of exchange, and cheques. Each has unique benefits and use cases for business scenarios. We'll present them to you!

Examples of Promissory Notes

Promissory Notes: Examples and Characteristics

Promissory Notes are a written legal instrument that confirm a unilateral promise made by one party to pay another party a certain amount of money at a specified time. Here are some examples of Promissory Notes:

  • A student loan taken to finance educational expenses.
  • An IOU note between friends or family members.
  • A corporate bond representing an obligation issued by a company.
  • A mortgage note serves as an obligation for repayment of the borrowed money for buying a property.
  • An installment note used in sales contracts, whereby the buyer agrees to make regular payments over an extended period until paid in full.

Apart from these, Promissory Notes can be drawn in various options and terms suited to both parties concerned.

It is imperative to maintain all traditional elements of promissory notes, such as repayment schedule, interest rate, holder's right, and payment terms. These documents should be drafted with attention and accuracy while also adhering to legal norms.

To create an accurate Promissory Note, it is essential to consult with a legal expert. They would provide guidance on drafting agreements that efficiently satisfy the requirements of both the creditor and debtor.

You can exchange a bill for cash, but try exchanging your bills for happiness.

Examples of Bill of Exchange

The Bills of Exchange is a customizable form of negotiable instrument based on an agreement between parties. A set of unique details cover the examples of this type of negotiable instrument in this content.

Below are some Bill of Exchange Examples:

TypesExamples Documentary bill/Documentary credit Irrevocable Letter of Credit, Standby Letter of Credit, Acceptance Credits, etc. Inland/foreign bill (on demand/evidenced debt) Cheque, Drafts drawn by one branch on another branch, Promissory Note, etc. Clean or Open Bill: Absence Of Any Acceptance Requirement
In Between The Parties like Cheque drawn upon bank's debtor account balance is considered as a clean/open bill.

The use and origin history of Bills of Exchange indicate how it once played an essential role as a means for international trade payments between countries. The system was established during the medieval period and continued until formal banking practices took over its functions.

Remember, a bounced cheque is just like a bad relationship - it's embarrassing, painful, and leaves you with less money.

Examples of Cheques

In the realm of negotiable instruments, there are various types of instruments that can be used to transfer funds between accounts. One such type is a document called a 'cheque'. Here are some examples of cheques: Personal Cheques A cheque from an individual's bank account. Cashier's Cheques A cheque drawn on the bank's own funds rather than the individual's account. Crossed Cheques A cheque that can only be credited to a bank account and cannot be cashed over-the-counter. It should be noted that depending on the country and financial institution where these cheques are being used, there may be other variations or types of cheques available. However, these three examples offer a broad overview for those unfamiliar with negotiable instruments. In addition to different types of cheques, some banks may also offer personalized or branded cheques for their customers. These can feature unique designs or logos from companies or individuals. One example of this is when a popular band offered fans personalized cheques as a way to promote their latest album. This allowed fans to not only support their favorite artists but also have a unique keepsake item. Negotiable instruments: the only legal way to write an IOU and be taken seriously.

Advantages of Negotiable Instruments

Negotiable Instruments' Unique Advantages

Speeding up financial transactions and providing security to parties, negotiable instruments have several distinct benefits.

- Transferability: Negotiable instruments can transmit property rights quickly through endorsement and delivery, allowing swift transactions.

- Convenience: With readily accepted forms of payment such as checks and drafts, negotiable instruments enable convenient payment and increase financial mobility.

- Protection: With legal protection guaranteed by federal and state laws, negotiable instruments ensure safety, security, and reduced liability for all parties involved.

Moreover, negotiable instruments are widely recognized and accepted as valuable commercial tools employed in various transactions, including financial credits, promissory notes, and bills of exchange.

According to Investopedia, "Negotiable instruments are a vital component of commerce, facilitating transactions that are necessary for continued business growth and expansion."

It is thus important for businesses, financial institutions, and individuals to familiarize themselves with the uses, advantages, and types of negotiable instruments in order to leverage their benefits effectively.

Five Facts About Negotiable Instruments: Definition, Types, and Examples:

  • ✅ A negotiable instrument is a document that guarantees payment of a specific amount of money to a certain person or entity. (Source: LegalMatch)
  • ✅ The most common types of negotiable instruments include checks, promissory notes, and bills of exchange. (Source: Legalzoom)
  • ✅ The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) governs the use and transfer of negotiable instruments in the United States. (Source: Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute)
  • ✅ Negotiable instruments are frequently used in business transactions to facilitate payment and reduce the risk of default. (Source: Investopedia)
  • ✅ The use of electronic and digital signatures has influenced the development of new forms of negotiable instruments, including e-checks and digital promissory notes. (Source: Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation)

FAQs about Negotiable Instruments: Definition, Types, And Examples

What are negotiable instruments?

Negotiable instruments are written documents that promise a payment to the bearer or designated person. These are used as a means of payment in various transactions such as loan agreements, payments for goods and services or investments.

What are the different types of negotiable instruments?

The most common types of negotiable instruments are checks, promissory notes, bills of exchange, and certificates of deposit.

What is a check?

A check is a type of negotiable instrument that is used to transfer funds from one account to another. It is a written order from the account holder, instructing their bank to pay a specific amount of money to the person or company named on the check.

What is a promissory note?

A promissory note is a written promise to pay a specific amount of money on a certain date or on demand. They are often used in loans and other financial agreements.

What is a bill of exchange?

A bill of exchange is a written order from one person to another, instructing them to pay a specific amount of money to a third party. They are often used in international trade transactions.

What is a certificate of deposit?

A certificate of deposit is a type of negotiable instrument that represents a deposit made with a financial institution for a specific period of time. At the end of that time, the deposit, plus any interest earned, is returned to the depositor.