Export finance

Short-term loans and bonds to help UK businesses fulfil orders from customers overseas and receive payment.

What is export finance? +

Exporting goods comes with large upfront costs, which can put a strain on your business’ finances and working capital. Export finance eases that burden by taking on some of the risk of trading abroad.

This type of finance is designed to help UK businesses sell overseas. There are different products that can help you get paid and access short-term loans and bonds to be able to fulfil orders from other countries.

How does it work? +

If you're looking to sell your product or service abroad, there are different types of export finance available to you.

Bond or guarantee

As part of the terms of the contract, many overseas customers will ask for your bank to issue a bond or guarantee in return for payment. This allows the customer to 'call' the bond from the bank if you don't fulfil your side of the deal.

These finance products can take the form of:

  • advance payment bonds
  • performance bonds
  • warranty bonds

Letter of credit

This guarantees that you'll receive payment on time, for the full amount agreed in the contract. If you're unable to make a payment in full or in part, the buyer's bank will cover any shortfall. This reduces the risk for you, as seller, and any potential finance providers.

Working capital loan

There are many providers in the UK that offer loans to help businesses fulfil overseas contracts and orders.

When securing a loan, you can borrow against assets, including invoices.

If you're finding it difficult to secure export finance because of the risks involved, you may be able to get a guarantee or insurance from a third party, reducing the lender's risk and making securing finance more possible.

Am I eligible? +

When you apply for export finance, the provider will assess your business. Before they make a decision, they will look at things such as:

  • your credit history
  • your ability to repay
  • assets on your balance sheet
  • your finances

What are the benefits? +

You can use export finance to:

  • diversify and increase sources of revenue for your business
  • grow your customer base internationally
  • make your international offer more competitive

What are the risks? +

Defaulting and your credit report

As with any loan, if you default on your repayments (in other words, fail to make them), you may have to pay charges. This might also affect your credit report.


There might be a charge for arranging letters of credit and bonds and guarantees. You need to be aware of the full cost of any services you require.

Is it right for me? +

Business stage

Established, with assets and a trading history

Annual turnover






How do I get it? +

UK Export Finance (UKEF)Link opens in a new window is the Government's export credit agency. It can help you sell your product overseas, by providing export insurance and guarantees to lenders.

In overseas markets, it may be more difficult to get payment upfront for a product. This means if your business wants to trade abroad, you might need to put down significant security before you're approved for finance.

UKEF mitigates that risk by insuring loans with a guarantee to reimburse the finance provider if you, as the borrower, fail to make your repayments. It does this through the Export Working Capital Scheme.

What is the Export Working Capital Scheme?

The Export Working Capital Scheme Link opens in a new windowhelps exporting businesses with their export contracts before, and after, they ship their products. It is run by UKEF.

It works like this. Your business takes an export finance loan from a finance provider (such as a traditional bank or another lender). Through the scheme, UKEF gives the provider a guarantee of up to 80% of your loan. UKEF then charges a premium for its guarantee, which it receives via the interest you pay the finance provider.

This all helps to reduce finance providers' risk and increase their appetite for lending.

Other finance options

Expansion Capital
Expansion Capital firms give established businesses money to grow and reach maturity.
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Angel Investment
Angel Investors act as mentors and invest their own money in early-stage businesses for a share in the company.
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Equity Crowdfunding
Using an online platform, investors buy shares in a company to help it grow.
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Regional support

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