Find answers to the most frequently asked questions below. You can also view all of the FAQs in the "Debt Statistics-FAQ.pdf". If you can't find the answer to your question, check out the User Guide or email us.
The website is the central hub for information on debt statistics. Here you can find all the debt related statistics including International Debt Statistics (IDS), Quarterly External Debt Statistics (QEDS), Quarterly Public Sector Debt Statistics (QPSD), and other related publications, blogs, articles, detailed guides, and methodology. Check out the User Guide for more details on the website's resources.
IDS is an annual World Bank publication that provides policymakers and analysts aggregate and country-specific information on trends in external debt in low- and middle-income countries (country classifications can be found here: World Bank Country and Lending Groups – World Bank Data Help Desk). It presents external borrowing and sources of lending by type of borrower and creditor with information on data availability and comparability. Since 1951, borrowing countries that have received loans from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) or International Development Association (IDA) have been required to provide data on their public and publicly guaranteed external debt. Starting in 1973, borrowing countries need to disclose to the World Bank non-guaranteed private sector debt with a public guarantee. Public and publicly guaranteed debt is reported on a loan-by-loan basis, whereas private sector nonguaranteed debt is reported on an aggregate basis. Currently there are 123 low- and middle-income countries with outstanding obligations to the World Bank in the IDS database. The curated data tables, historical database, and the IDS publication are all available online.
IDS presents comprehensive stock and flow data for 123 low- and middle-income countries (country classifications can be found here: World Bank Country and Lending Groups – World Bank Data Help Desk) and a summary overview of the key elements driving outcomes in debt stocks and financial flows. IDS reports general government external debt, private sector external debt, principal payments, interest payments, debt data by creditor, as well as ratios of debt to Gross National Income and to exports of good, services, and primary income. For more information, please see the IDS methodology page.
The World Bank’s rationale for collecting data on the external debt obligations of its borrowers comes from the need to ensure their debt servicing capacity and to support the assessment of their overall macroeconomic health. As a global public good, the World Bank disseminates aggregate data series derived from borrowers’ submissions on an annual basis.
In addition, the World Bank has a mandate to collect accurate and timely public debt data to facilitate the effective discharge of its duties and to disseminate the data to the public, as collected through the Debtor Reporting System (DRS) and published in IDS. The data collection and dissemination mandate of the World Bank is based on the Bank Policy on “External Debt Reporting and Financial Statements” (PDF). This was amended in July 2005 and provides the institutional framework for the requirement that a borrowing or guaranteeing member country provide reliable and timely external debt data to the Bank. The Bank’s General Conditions require such member country to “furnish to the Bank all such information as the Bank shall reasonably request with respect to financial and economic conditions in its territory, including its balance of payments and external debt”. As a condition of Board presentation of loans and credits, the borrowing country must submit a complete report (or an acceptable plan of action for such reporting) on its external debt. The reporting to Quarterly External Debt Statistics (QEDS) and Quarterly Public Sector Debt (QPSD) is voluntary and not covered by the Bank Policy.
Full disclosure of the stock of public and publicly guaranteed debt and contingent liabilities of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and related terms and conditions helps borrowers and lenders to make sound financial decisions. It is the key to ensure that global public debt stays at a sustainable level. To support debt transparency, the World Bank regularly disseminates easily accessible debt statistics for policymakers, debt office practitioners, creditors, and the broader international community. For more details, see Expert Answers: What Is Debt Transparency?. Some low-income countries have limited debt management capacity and may not be able to report on external debt obligations comprehensively. The World Bank is committed to assisting these countries to strengthen their capacity in debt management. For more details, see the G-20 Note on Strengthening Public Debt Transparency (PDF).
The fiscal costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated global debt servicing costs, which were already at an elevated level in many low- and middle-income countries. The G-20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) launched in April 2020 with support from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) aims to support the world’s poorest countries in the fight against COVID-19 through the provision of temporary debt relief. Debt transparency is essential to this process for recipient governments and creditors to assess the potential impact of DSSI and other financing needs.
You can access our IDS publication here: https://data.worldbank.org/products/ids, along with other useful information regarding external debt. You can also access our publication archive at the bottom of the linked page.
There are multiple ways to view the data from each debt statistics database:
Curated Data Tables:
To access historic statistics, please use DataBank:
You can also access the data through the World Bank API
Below are some commonly used indicators. You can type the code into the search box in the Series tab when you are using DataBank to access these data more conveniently:
Debt service payments for the DSSI database measure the actual amount of debt service paid in past years and the projected amount of debt service due monthly for two future years based on the disbursed and outstanding long-term external public debt at year-end for the latest reported year, net of (i.e. excluding) principal in arrears. Projected debt service payments do not include any increase in debt service that may arise from:
For additional information on methodology for IDS-DSSI, please see DSSI: What we Measure (PDF)
The World Bank Debtor Reporting System (DRS), governed by the Bank Policy on External Debt, obligates all IBRD and IDA borrowers to provide detailed, loan-by-loan information on external public debt with an original maturity of more than one year, on a quarterly basis for new commitments, and on an annual basis for transactions (stocks and flows) for all outstanding external loans. DRS requires borrowers to report aggregated long-term non-guaranteed external debt in the private sector on an annual basis. DRS only collects long-term debt statistics and defines external public debt as:
For more information, please see DRS: What it measures (PDF).
No. As outlined by the Bank Policy on External Debt, the external debt that a country must report to the Bank includes: (a) public debt with an original maturing of one year or more, contracted or guaranteed by the government of the country or its political subdivisions, the central bank, and other agencies; and (b) private, nonguaranteed debt. However, reporting to the Quarterly External Debt Statistics (QEDS) and Quarterly Public Sector Debt (QPSD) databases is on a voluntary basis.
To request additional data or breakdowns, you must follow the World Bank Access to Information Protocol due to the confidentiality of the loan-by-loan debt data. Users must submit a request via the following portal: Access to Information Request Submission and complete Annex A of DRS Data Dissemination and Access Policy form.
DRS classifies an entity as an official bilateral entity based on the profile of the creditor entity and the profile of subsidy. The categories of these creditors are:
▪ Government or public agencies
▪ Central, provincial, or local governments
▪ Central banks (Monetary Authority)
▪ Public enterprises (50% or more government owned, state owned enterprises (SOE))
▪ Governmental export-financing institutions, (i.e. Exim banks)
▪ Development banks
DRS classifies a creditor entity as private based on legal status the entity. The categories of these creditors are:
Gross external debt, at any given time, is the outstanding amount of those actual current, and not contingent, liabilities that require payment(s) of principal and/or interest by the debtor at some point(s) in the future and that are owed to nonresidents by residents of an economy.
Long-term debt is debt with an original maturity of more than one year. Short-term debt instruments have an original maturity of one year or less.
The World Bank, in collaboration with the IMF, launched the QEDS database in October 2014. The QEDS database presents external debt data for low-, middle-, and high-income countries that subscribe to the IMF’s Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) or the IMF’s General Data Dissemination System (GDDS). The QEDS SDDS database provides detailed external debt data beginning from 1998Q1 and the QEDS GDDS database provides external debt data starting with 2002Q4. Participation in QEDS is voluntary, and you can see the full list of participating countries here. QEDS data are compiled on a quarterly basis and disseminated within four months following the close of the report in period. You may access the curated data tables or the full historic database on Databank for SDDS and GDDS. To learn more about SDDS and GDDS, please see the IMF’s Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board.
SDDS was established by the IMF to guide member countries that have, or might seek, access to international capital markets in the provision of their economic and financial data to the public. Subscription to the SDDS was opened in early April 1996 with a letter from the IMF's Managing Director to all IMF Members and Governors. Although subscription is voluntary, it carries a commitment by a subscribing member to observe the reporting standards and to provide certain information to the IMF about its practices in disseminating economic and financial data. To date, there have been 77 subscriptions to the SDDS, including 26 countries which are part of SDDS Plus. The core set of tables are the SDDS prescribed external debt data category (Table 1) and encouraged debt data categories (Tables 2, 3, and 4). Table 1 includes breakdowns of the total gross external debt position by sector, maturity, and instrument, and the three other tables, Table 2, 3, and 4, gather data on the domestic-foreign currency breakdown of external debt, forward debt service schedule, and principal and interest payments due in one year or less. The remaining set of tables comprise supplementary statistics that go beyond the SDDS requirements to provide further analytical presentations—particularly with respect to sectoral data—and facilitate cross country data analysis. Provision of data for table 1—the table based on the prescribed SDDS data category—by sector, maturity, and instrument is a minimum requirement for participation in SDDS. For methodology, please see: Guide for Subscribers and Users: The Special Data Dissemination Standard; 2013 (PDF)
The GDDS database focuses on the dissemination of the public and publicly guaranteed external debt position data disaggregated by maturity. This is the core data element for participation in QEDS, but the dissemination of other data is encouraged, including the external debt-service payment schedule, creditor sector information, the external debt position disaggregated by type of instrument, and domestic-foreign currency composition.. Provision of data on public and publicly guaranteed external debt disaggregated by maturity (Table 1) is mandatory for participation in the QEDS. Data on private sector external debt not publicly guaranteed is not essential for participation in GDDS but reporting of these data are encouraged.
QEDS data are reported and published on a quarterly basis with a one quarter lag. For example, data for the end of the first quarter of the calendar year (March 31st) are reported and published in July. Two data publications are made each quarter – mid-month and end-month - to reflect the alternate submission dates available to subscribers. For example: first quarter (end March) data reported by the first submission date (July 7th) are published on July 17th, and first quarter data reported by the second submission date (July 22nd) are published on July 31st. The QEDS data is, thus, updated twice each quarter, in the middle and end of the month, with a one quarter time lag. Please see the QEDS Submission and Publication Calendar for the latest schedule.
QPSD was developed jointly by the World Bank and the IMF. It provides quarterly public sector debt data for low-, middle-, and high-income countries, that subscribe to reporting public sector debt, domestic and external. Please see the methodology page for more information.
The participation in QPSD is voluntary. You can find the list of countries that report to the database here: Which countries have reported data to Quarterly Public Sector Debt database? – World Bank Data Help Desk
You can access historic and the latest debt statistic through the World Bank QPDS DataBank. To select time the frame for the data extract, please select years within the Time tab on the left-hand panel.