Debtor – What is a debtor?

‘Debtor’ is a term used in the business world to refer to a party that owes money to a company or individual.

Learn how to manage overdue invoices with invoicing software. 

A debtor can be an entity, a company or a person of a legal nature that owes money to someone else – your business, for example. If you have one or more debtors, that makes you a creditor. Put simply, the debtor-creditor relationship is complementary to the customer-supplier relationship.

Types of debtors

Generally speaking, a debtor is a customer who has purchased a good or service and therefore owes the supplier payment in return. Therefore, on a fundamental level, almost all companies and people will be debtors at one time or another. For accounting purposes, customers/suppliers are referred to as debtors/creditors.

‘Debtor’ doesn’t only refer to a customer of goods and services, but also to someone who has borrowed money from a bank or a lender. If you take out a loan to buy your house for example, then you as the homeowner are a debtor, while the bank holding your mortgage is considered the creditor.

In general, if you’ve borrowed money then you are a debtor to the loan agency.

Usually, each debtor has a specific agreement with their creditor about the payment terms, discount offerings, etc.

How one becomes a debtor

The term 'debtor' is applicable both to individuals as well as to other companies, banks, loan businesses and more. If someone owes a payment to an individual or a business for products or services rendered, the person owing can be considered a debtor.

What can be done about debtors

If a debtor has an outstanding payment that has passed the due date and/or the standard payment window (30 days in the UK), there are a number of steps that a creditor can take in order to collect the money owed.

There’s a generally accepted escalation of actions, beginning with a friendly reminder and, if it continues in the most extreme cases, filing in the claims court.

Debtors and SumUp Invoices

With SumUp Invoices, our invoicing software, your invoice list will automatically update to show you which payments from debtors are overdue, indicated by a due date that will become red. You can quickly filter your invoices to view only those that are unpaid and the overdue invoices will be easily viewed.

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