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 RBS 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, 79KB)


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 your business has an annual turnover of less than £2 million, you can give us a call on 0345 050 0696. 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 0696 if your annual turnover is less than £2 million or 18001 0345 050 0737 if your annual turnover is more than £2 million.

For more information on accessibility visit: https://www.business.rbs.co.uk/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.

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?