Payment term

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Payment ( English term of payment ) is in the business one of the general purchase agreement right divergent terms of payment mentioned by the supplier to his customers when signing a sales contract a specific deadline for the payment of the purchase price gives.


The term of payment is therefore the period between delivery and payment. According to § 271 BGB , the law of obligations stipulates that the purchase price must be paid step by step upon delivery, unless otherwise agreed. Then the purchase price is due immediately upon delivery of the goods. Since this law of obligations is a mandatory law , the payment terms can stipulate that the buyer must first pay the purchase price by a certain payment date. A purchase for which a payment term is granted is called a target purchase or purchase on target .

Payment term

A payment period may be agreed by treaty or unilaterally on a bill be declared (as bill purchase or purchase on account designated).

Agreed payment term

If a term of payment has been agreed between the two contracting parties, the latest date for invoicing will be delayed by a period measured in days or months after the delivery date or a specific due date will be set. If the payment term is 45 days after receipt of the invoice , the debtor's payment must be credited to the supplier's bank account within this period . After the agreed payment term has expired, the debtor automatically falls into arrears.

According to Section 286, Paragraph 2, No. 1 of the German Civil Code (BGB), there is no need for a reminder if a time according to the calendar is specified for the payment of the invoice amount (for example, "The invoice amount is due upon receipt, but no later than ..."). The invoice debtor is in default of payment without a reminder after the set service time has expired . The delay begins here at the end of the day on which payment was to be made at the latest. According to Section 286, Paragraph 2, No. 2 of the German Civil Code, it is also sufficient if a “general” calculability of the time of performance according to the calendar is possible.

The debtor of a claim for payment for the delivery of goods and / or for the provision of services (but not for long-term obligations such as rent or loans ) is in default in accordance with Section 286 (3) BGB no later than 30 days after the due date . This only applies to a consumer if he has been specifically advised of these consequences in the invoice or payment schedule. When invoicing, payment terms are usually around 30 days in the future; in Germany, payments are made after an average of 24 days.

Payment term declared unilaterally

The creditor of a monetary claim can postpone the due date of the invoice amount even without prior agreement with the debtor. Since the due date of an invoice is postponed in favor of the debtor, an invoice with a unilateral payment term is permissible.

economic aspects

The granting of a payment term is a means of sales promotion for the seller , the use of the payment term is a means of financing for the buyer in the context of a supplier credit . In terms of payment terms, the supplier is exposed to the debtor risk of a lender because his buyer can become insolvent during the term of the supplier credit and the payment of the receivable can therefore fail or at least become doubtful . To secure his payment risk , the seller can agree on retention of title with the buyer in the purchase contract .

In the event of early payment despite the payment term granted, the buyer may generally deduct a fixed percentage, the cash discount , from the invoice amount.


In Europe there are significant differences in terms of the average payment term. Denmark and Germany have the shortest payment terms with an average of 22 and 24 days respectively. According to a study commissioned by the EOS Group in 2013, the average agreed payment term in business transactions (across all sectors) is 20.2 days in Germany, 35.7 in Belgium , 37.0 in Great Britain and 39 in France . 1 and in Spain at 58.4 days.


  • H. Lauer: Conditions Management. Design and enforce payment terms optimally , Düsseldorf 1998, ISBN 3-87881-124-1
  • RG Nolden, E. Bizer: Special Economics Industry . Stam Verlag, Cologne 1997, ISBN 3-8237-1559-3
  • H. Möhlmeier, G. Wurm: General economics for industrial clerks . Stam Verlag, Cologne 1997, ISBN 3-8237-6753-4
  • Euler Hermes, Payment periods in Europe: wide gaps (no.1182) , 2014

Web links

Wiktionary: Payment term  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon , article target purchase , accessed on June 21, 2010
  2. Atradius, Payment Practices Barometer - Study on the Payment Behavior of European Companies , 2011
  3. Atradius, Payment Practices Barometer - Study on the Payment Behavior of European Companies , 2011
  4. EOS, Payment Habits in Europe , 2011