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Finance for exports

Finance for exports

Your checklist

Set your export budget

It's important to be aware of the financial implications of operating overseas – from payment terms to currency considerations and tax.

The export budget within your export plan should set out all the costs you are likely to incur in entering and developing your selected markets.  

Your budget should also take into account when you are likely to receive payment for your goods and services from each market you are targeting. This will allow you to manage your company cash flow and identify any export finance needs. 

In the short term, your company will likely have a number of additional upfront costs, such as marketing and sales costs, delivery costs, and any product or service adaptation required for exporting to new countries.

Understand the role of export finance

Export finance can support your company by helping you meet any upfront costs in developing overseas sales, helping improve cashflow and working capital available to you company, and helping you receive payment earlier for completed sales. 

Export finance can also help you to offer better payment terms to your new customers and so make you more competitive in the market.

Alongside discussing your export finance options with your bank (which may offer tailored finance options for exporters), your company may qualify for government-backed finance through UK Export Finance (UKEF).

As the UK’s export credit agency, UKEF can issue loans, guarantees and insurance policies to help you offer competitive terms to your buyers in Europe while managing your cash flow and payment risks. 

UKEF offers support to companies of all sizes in all sectors.

Support may also be available from Exporting is GREAT partner companies and organisations in terms of export finance options. 

Ensure payment for your goods and services

There are a range of payment options for selling your goods into international markets. You'll want to:

  • Ensure you are competitive in the market
  • Generate the required cash flow 
  • Minimise the risks of any non-payment for goods or service

But how do you decide the best approach for your company? 

  • You need to make sure your export buyer is creditworthy
  • Decide if you'll put in place credit terms for your new customers, and
  • Which currencies you will accept payment in

Get advice on export payment methods and credit insurance from your bank, and Insurance broker, UK Export Finance and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce.

Credit insurance protects you against the risk of not being paid, or of not being able to recover the costs of fulfilling an export sale. 

Merchant services specialists can also provide advice and systems, such as credit and debit card payment, or online and point of sale payment.

Letters of credit provide additional security for exporters in terms of security of payment, when a large export order is involved, and the company has not dealt with the export buyer previously. However, they are not commonly used in Europe.

Finance tips for international markets

1. Plan ahead and think about future trading in the market 

For example, do your business to consumer (B2C) price points contain sufficient margin to allow for a future trade discount without impacting adversely on your cash flow?

2. Set minimum order quantities

If you're selling business to business (B2B), and using price discounting, it's advisable to set minimum order quantities (or quantities at which further discount applies) for trade customers in relation to practical ‘break points’ e.g. in carton size / weight / shipping costs.

3. Manage exchange rate fluctuations 

If quoting/pricing in the local export market currency, you need to be aware of and manage exchange rate fluctuations and risk.

4. Factor in payment/credit terms

For cash flow purposes, make sure you are aware of, and factor in the normal payment terms or credit periods for goods in each export market, which can differ significantly between markets.

5. Credit check your customers

Make sure that any export customer is creditworthy before offering any credit terms. A wide range of financial information is available from credit information agencies and major credit insurers, or through our free international market research service.

Contact us

Got any questions about funding for expansion into new markets? Our team are here to help.


All information provided on this web page is for general guidance only. The contents of this guide have been provided by our training partners, Upper Quartile. Upper Quartile is not affiliated with any of the third parties or listings represented on our website. Third party listings are drawn from public domain and industry body data sources. Due diligence on a given third party or listing remains the exclusive responsibility of the end user. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the details represented, Upper Quartile and Scottish Enterprise cannot endorse, recommend or accept responsibility for any transactions conducted between the user and a given third party or listing provided on this web page.