Dataset description and subject
Balance of payment data record the flows of goods, services and finance between an economy and the rest of the world. As one of the primary functions of the IMF is to prevent financial crises and assist countries in balance of payment difficulties, the collection of standardised, comparable balance of payment data is seen as a core task.
The Balance of Payments (BOP) is a statistical statement that summarizes, for a specific period (typically a year or quarter), the economic transactions of an economy with the rest of the world. It covers:
- all the goods, services, factor income and current transfers an economy receives from or provides to the rest of the world
- capital transfers and changes in an economy's external financial claims and liabilities
Transactions are generally between residents and non-residents. The exceptions are the exchange of transferable foreign financial assets between residents and transferable foreign financial liabilities between non-residents. For the purposes of the Balance of Payments, residency relates to the economic territory of a country, not nationality. An international unit is resident unit when it has a centre of economic interest in the economic territory of a country.
The Balance of Payments methodology uses a double-entry accounting system. This means that every recorded item should have a debit and a credit, and there should be a net balance of zero.
In practice, the figures rarely balance to the point where they cancel each other out. This is the result of errors or omissions in the compilation of statements. A separate balancing item is used to offset the credit or debit.
For most countries, balance of payments data are presented in both analytic and standard presentations. As its name implies, the analytic presentation is an analytical summary of the more detailed data contained in the standard presentation. Balance of payments components in the analytic presentation are arrayed to highlight the financing items (the reserves and related items). The standard presentation shows data displayed in the standard components described in the BPM6. For countries for which International Investment Positions (IIP) statistics are available, the data are presented in the IIP section.
International Investment Positions
The International Investment Position (IIP) is the balance sheet of the stock of external financial assets and liabilities. Data for standard IIP components are also included where available in the database. The financial items included are: claims on non-residents, liabilities to non-residents, monetary gold and SDRs (special drawing rights). The Balance of Payments Statistics provide the IIP as part of the individual country data. The basic presentation divides the data between assets and liabilities. The sub-classifications are by function (as with the BOP financial account). Assets are divided into direct investment, portfolio investment, other investment and reserve assets. Liabilities are divided into direct investment, portfolio investment and other investment.
IIP data reflect a country’s position at the end of the reporting period, as opposed to transactions during the period shown in the standard presentation. Together, the International Investment Position and Balance of Payments transactions constitute the set of international accounts for an economy.
Balance of Payments Methodology - BPM6
Both balance of payments and IIP data are presented in accordance with the standard components of the sixth edition of the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual, BPM6. The BPM6, published by the Fund in 2009, introduced a number of methodological changes in the compilation of balance of payments and IIP data.
Not all countries report data as yet in the BPM6 format. For countries reporting in BPM5, the IMF developed formulas to convert reported balance of payments and IIP data for each country in the Fund’s database to approximate the BPM6 methodology and presentation.
All Balance of Payment data is expressed in US dollars. The reported data are typically denominated in national currency. Conversion is performed on the basis of average U.S. dollar/national currency exchange rates for balance of payments data and on end-of-period exchange rates for IIP data.
Data in the historical folder use the BPM5 methodology, and runs from
More detail can be found in:
The IMF provides contact details for specific queries relating to the data in the Balance of Payments Statistics:
Write Statistics Department
International Monetary Fund
Washington, D.C. 20431 U.S.A.
Telephone +1 (202) 623-6180
BOPS Coding System
Full details of the IMF BOPS coding system can be found in the:
The IMF’s Balance of Payments pages provide additional documentation:
The IMF also provides a Balance of Payments Methodology. The discussion of methodology in this file make specific reference to the tables and access features of the IMF’s CD ROM product, although the general discussion will be of interest to all users of BOPS data.
Descriptions of individual country methodologies, compilation practices, and data sources are provided in the Balance of Payments Country Notes. The general section provides an overview of a country’s major data sources and the key methods (surveys, exchange records, international transaction reporting systems, and others) it uses to collect balance of payments data and, where appropriate, international investment position statistics. The section also discusses major government agencies and other institutions responsible for and involved in the compilation activities.
The IMF also produces an annual print version of the database, the Balance of Payments Statistics Yearbook. The yearbook contains recent time series data from the database:
The IMF BOPS hosted by ESDS International are delivered via Beyond 20/20:
Note: You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader software to read documents in pdf format. You can download it free of charge from the Adobe website.
Accessing the IMF Balance of Payments Statistics (BOPS)
To access the ESDS International macro-economic datasets you must be a user from a UK higher or further education institution. We cannot provide data to users outside of this community due to the data re-distribution license agreements we have with our data providers. If you are a member of a UK higher or further education institution access to the macro-economic datasets is provided free of charge.
Access to data requires ESDS registration and uses the federated access management authentication system. Registration is a simple online process - go to the How to Register web page at www.esds.ac.uk/aandp/access/access.asp to begin the process.
Once you have registered with ESDS and attempt to access one of the macro-economic datasets, you will automatically be prompted to agree to additional dataset specific conditions if they apply.
Countries in the IMF Balance of Payments Statistics (BOPS)
The IMF BOPS database contains over 200 countries and regional groups, the following file lists them by country code number, and alphabetically:
Periodicity and Time Range
The IMF Balance of Payments Statistics contains over 100,000 quarterly and annual time series data. When the data are available, the annual entries generally begin in 1967 and quarterly entries begin in 1970. The period for which data are available varies from country to country, but most countries’ data extend from the mid-1970s to the present.
- Annual data starts in 1967 and runs until the latest available year (with a small number from 1948)
- Quarterly data starts in 1970 and runs until the latest available quarter (with a small number from early 1960's)
- Data in international investment positions available for selected countries from 1981 onwards.
The IMF BOPS at ESDS International is updated once a month. See the new data page for the latest update information.