Definition: A trade payable is an amount billed to a company by its suppliers for goods delivered to or services consumed by the company in the ordinary course of business. These billed amounts, if paid on credit, are entered in the accounts payable module of a company's accounting software, after which they appear in the accounts payable aging report until they are paid. Any amounts owed to suppliers that are immediately paid in cash are not considered to be trade payables, since they are no longer a liability.
In the accounting system, trade payables are recorded in a separate accounts payable account, with a credit to the accounts payable account and a debit to whichever account most closely represents the nature of the payment, such as an expense or an asset.
Trade payables are nearly always classified as current liabilities, since they are usually payable within one year. If that is not the case, then such payables can be classified as long-term liabilities. A longer-term liability typically has an interest payment associated with it, and so is more likely to be classified as long-term debt.
Other types of payables, such as accrued expenses, dividends payable, or payroll expenses, are recorded in other accounts in order to more easily identify them.
A key difference between trade payables and non-trade payables is that trade payables are typically entered into the accounting system through a special accounts payable module that automatically generates the necessary accounting entries, whereas non-trade payables are typically entered in the system with a journal entry.
Trade payables are also known as trade accounts payable or accounts payable.