Managing risk

Documentary collections

Why use documentary collections?

Provide a secure way to make and receive payments during international trade

An exporter submits shipping documents and payment instructions to their bank once they’ve sent the goods

The bank obtains payment or an acceptance of a bill of exchange from the importer’s bank and releases the documentation

The banks involved in export collection don’t guarantee payment, so you should always check the buyer’s credit status before agreeing to use this service.

Documentary collections in detail...


Improved cashflow

When importing, you don't pay until you receive shipping confirmation – so you keep your cash for longer. When exporting, deferred payment collections can often be discounted with your bank.

Cost-efficient and easy to use

There's no need for a capital-weighted bank facility, and documentation is turned around quickly

Added security

Importers only pay once there's proof of shipment, so it's more secure than paying for your goods in advance. If you're exporting, you keep control of the documents until the goods have been paid for or a bill of exchange has been accepted.

Universally regulated

Documentary collections are subject to globally recognised rules issued by the International Chamber of Commerce.

Types of Collections

Import collection

Import collection (also referred to as an Inward Bill or inward collection) could be your best option. It’s a universally recognised method for settling overseas trade debt through the international banking system and may also be the preferred settlement method of your overseas supplier.

Export collection

Export collection (also known as Outward Bill) is a universally recognised method for settling overseas trade debt through the international banking system. It means you may be able to keep control of the goods that you have shipped until the importer can see that delivery of the goods has been made and agrees to pay.

Ready to enquire

Are you an existing NatWest business customer?
Have you previously used documentary collections with us?

Please use our downloadable application form below. Simply print, fill in, and send to us with your shipping documents to the address on the application form.


Export collections application form (PDF, 83KB)


Enquire online

Its easy to enquire online with our simple online form. Just tell us about your business and needs, and we’ll be in touch.

Please contact our Business Lending team for more information.

If you’re a new customer with an annual turnover of less than £2 million, you can give us a call on 0345 050 0735. If it’s over £2 million, call us on 0345 050 0737. 

Customers with hearing and speech impairments can contact us by using our Relay UK Service: 18001 0345 050 0735 if your turnover is less than £2 million and 18001 0345 050 0737 if it's over £2 million.

For more information on accessibility visit: https://www.business.natwest.com/business/accessibility.html

Calls may be recorded for training and monitoring purposes.

To see how much your call might cost, visit the call charge information page.

Other Trade Finance options

We offer a wide range of trade finance products, discover how these could help out with your business needs…

Bonds & guarantees, and standby letters of credit, provide companies with additional protection in respect of their business or customers, performance or financial obligations. We can issue guarantees on your behalf or receive and validate guarantees issued by other banks in your favour.

Provide a secure method of settlement and reduce the risk of non- payment for delivered goods. Once issued they are legally binding, irrevocable and cannot be cancelled unless all parties agree.

Trade Loans tailor loans to a specific contract(s) and cover the funding gap between you paying your suppliers and being paid by your customer. They allow you to repay the loan when your customer pays you and are available to businesses with a turnover of over £2m.

To compare all of our Trade Finance products, see our Trade Finance Homepage

Additional support for your business

Managing risk

Help protect against the impact of exchange rate fluctuations and the risk of not being paid


Our secure online platform lets you manage your international trade transactions from anywhere, 24 hours a day

Something else we can help you with?