Consultative document on guidelines on prudential treatment of problem assets – definitions of non-performing exposures and forbearance

Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS)

The financial crisis revealed the difficulties of supervisors and stakeholders to address and compare information of credit institutions in different jurisdictions. In particular, the BCBS recognised that may be important differences in how banks identify and report their asset quality.

In response to this issue, the BCBS carried out an analysis of the jurisdictions’ and banks’ practices regarding asset categorization schemes, which confirmed that there are differences in these practices, such as the default or impairment definitions.

  • In this context, the BCBS published a consultative document on guidelines on the definition of non-performing exposures (NPE) and forbearance, with the aim of harmonising both concepts.   
  • In particular, the consultative document should help to harmonise the scope of application, recognition criteria, as well as the level of application. Thereby, a higher consistency in supervisory reporting and bank disclosure could be achieved.
  • This consultative document aims at supporting the current regulatory and accounting framework on asset classification, so it does not replace neither the accounting definitions used nor the default definition used in the IRB approach or the standardised method (SA) for credit risk.

This document prepared by the R&D area of Management Solutions analyses the NPE and forbearance definitions proposed by the BCBS. Furthermore, an analysis of the relevant regulatory framework in the European Union and USA is included.

Executive summary

NPE and forbearance definitions apply to all credit exposures from the regulatory banking book, and to off balance-sheet items. They will be used for supervisory control of asset quality purposes, disclosure under Pillar 3, etc.

Scope of application

Balance sheet loans, debt securities and other amounts due from the regulatory banking book under BIS II and other off balance-sheet items.

Main content

  • Non-performing exposures (NPE), including its scope of application and definition, reclassification to performing, interaction with forbearance and additional aspects.
  • Forbearance, including its scope of application and definition, exit from the exposure forbearance category and interaction with other risk categories.
  • Application of definitions.


Download the technical note by clicking here.