What is Export Factoring?

Export factoring is a financial service that helps UK businesses manage their cash flow and mitigate risks associated with international trade. It involves selling accounts receivable (invoices) from foreign customers to a factoring company, which provides immediate cash and handles collections.


Key Aspects of Export Factoring:

  1. Definition:
    • Export factoring is a financial arrangement where a business sells its export invoices to a factoring company. The factoring company advances a significant percentage of the invoice value to the exporter and assumes responsibility for collecting payment from the foreign customer.
  2. Purpose:
    • Improved Cash Flow: Provides immediate access to cash tied up in international invoices, helping businesses maintain liquidity and manage working capital more effectively.
    • Risk Mitigation: Reduces the risk of non-payment from foreign customers, as the factoring company often assumes the credit risk.
    • Simplified Collections: The factoring company handles the collection process, saving the exporter time and administrative effort.
  3. How Export Factoring Works:
    • Invoice Submission: The exporter ships goods to the foreign customer and submits the invoice to the factoring company.
    • Advance Payment: The factoring company advances a percentage of the invoice value, typically between 70-90%, to the exporter.
    • Collection: The factoring company collects payment from the foreign customer on the due date.
    • Final Payment: Once the customer pays the invoice, the factoring company pays the remaining balance to the exporter, minus a factoring fee.
  4. Benefits:
    • Immediate Cash: Provides quick access to funds, improving cash flow and allowing businesses to reinvest in operations or pay suppliers.
    • Risk Management: Reduces exposure to credit risk and political risk in foreign markets, as the factoring company often covers non-payment.
    • Administrative Relief: Outsourcing the collection process reduces the administrative burden on the exporter.
    • Credit Management: Factoring companies often provide credit assessment services, helping exporters evaluate the creditworthiness of foreign customers.
  5. Considerations:
    • Cost: Factoring fees can vary and may include interest on the advance, service fees, and additional charges for credit protection. It’s essential to understand the total cost and compare it with other financing options.
    • Customer Relations: The factoring company interacts with the exporter’s customers, which can impact customer relationships. Choosing a reputable factoring company with good customer service is crucial.
    • Credit Limits: Factoring companies may set credit limits on the amount they are willing to advance based on the perceived risk of the foreign customers and markets.
  6. Example:A UK-based manufacturer exports £100,000 worth of goods to a customer in Germany. The payment terms are 60 days. To improve cash flow, the manufacturer decides to use export factoring.
    • Advance Payment: The factoring company agrees to advance 80% of the invoice value. The manufacturer receives £80,000 immediately.
    • Collection: The factoring company collects the full invoice amount from the German customer on the due date.
    • Final Payment: After collecting the payment, the factoring company deducts a factoring fee (e.g., 3% of the invoice value, or £3,000) and pays the remaining balance (£17,000) to the manufacturer.
  7. Choosing a Factoring Company:
    • Reputation: Select a factoring company with a strong reputation and experience in international trade.
    • Services Offered: Consider additional services such as credit assessment, risk protection, and currency exchange management.
    • Terms and Conditions: Review the terms of the agreement carefully, including advance rates, fees, and payment schedules.


Export factoring is a valuable financial tool for UK businesses engaged in international trade. It helps improve cash flow, mitigate risks, and simplify the collection process. By understanding the benefits and considerations of export factoring, businesses can make informed decisions to support their growth and stability in foreign markets. Selecting a reputable factoring company and carefully reviewing the terms of the agreement are essential steps to maximize the advantages of export factoring.