I have a very small business, with only 8 employees. We have just started to export a US made product and our sales volume is only $75,000 a year right now. Am I too small for Ex-Im Bank?
Absolutely not! Ex-Im Bank has a special policy for small businesses which have been in business for at least one full year, has a DUNS number and financial statements or tax returns; the coverage is 95% for both commercial and political risks, with no deductible! You pay the premiums only on what you ship, when you ship. This pay-as-you-go feature means that there are no lost premium dollars, and that you are only paying premium on the gross invoice value of your actual shipments. And... there is no minimum premium! To qualify as a small business, you must meet the definition set forth by the Small Business Administration (SBA). In general, you will qualify if the total number of employees in your company (including any parent, subsidiaries and affiliates) is less than 500 if your company is a manufacturer, or less than 100 if you are a distributor or wholesaler. To qualify for the small business policy, you must meet the SBA definition and have export credit sales of less than $7,500,000.
Ex-Im Bank offers products that provide export financing solutions for U.S. businesses. Three primary products are:
Insurance - Export Credit Insurance has two benefits: (1) it provides credit terms to foreign buyers; and (2) it protects exporters against loss should a foreign buyer or other foreign debtor default for political or commercial reasons. Insurance policies may apply to shipments to one buyer or to many. Coverage available includes comprehensive (commercial and political) credit risks or only specific political risks. The insurance covers short-term (up to 360 days) as well as medium-term (1 to 7 year) sales.
Working Capital Loan Guarantee - This product addresses the export financing needs of U.S. businesses producing goods and services for the U.S. export market. By offering a 90% guarantee of principal and interest to the lender for export-related working capital loans, Ex-Im Bank allows U.S. businesses to borrow greater sums against their current assets (increases their borrowing base). These loans can be both transaction specific or revolving, and there is no minimum or maximum limits on the loan amount.
Loan Guarantee - In cases when a foreign buyer seeks a loan to purchase U.S. made goods, and in-country loans are too expensive, Ex-Im Bank can provide a loan guarantee to a commercial lending institution to make the loan to the foreign buyer. Ex-Im Bank will guarantee up to 85% of principal and interest of the U.S. contract price.
How can I get an advance indication of Ex-Im Bank's willingness to finance my possible foreign sale?
It only takes $100 and a complete Letter of Interest (LI) application. A LI is a non-binding document that gives you a prompt (7 days or less) indication of Ex-Im Bank's willingness to finance a proposed transaction. However, there is no guarantee of getting financing later. Click here to fill out a LI online.
Ex-Im Bank provides guarantees to banks which, in turn, provide loans for working capital. It is therefore advisable to discuss your needs with your commercial bank before contacting Ex-Im Bank. You should have three years of financial statements, your most recent tax return, biographies of top management, company history, product description and a narrative of your export experience. A personal guarantee from any owner(s) with 20% or more equity in the company is normally required, as is a purchase order from a country in which we are doing business. The list of eligible countries is called the Country Limitation Schedule.
My bank excludes my foreign receivables from my borrowing base. What can I do to get my bank to include them?
The bank excludes them as collateral because they are uncollectable in the event that your buyer defaults. The solution is to obtain an Ex-Im Bank credit insurance policy. Once your foreign receivables are credit-insured by Ex-Im Bank, the receivable becomes a domestic one, and carries the full faith and credit of the US government. The proceeds (claim payments) of the insurance policy are assigned to your lender, so they know our claim payment comes to them. We have many types of insurance policies: single-buyer or multi-buyer, and special incentives for small businesses, women and minority-owned businesses and environmental exporters.
I have discussed the Ex-Im Bank insurance and guarantee products with my local bank, but they are not interested in financing my foreign customers. What can I do?
We have a list of commercial banks that currently cooperate with us. These banks are approachable and understand our programs. Click here to view the list.
My foreign buyer says my competitors from other countries offer better repayment terms than I can. Can Ex-Im Bank help?
Ex-Im Bank tries to provide a level playing field for U.S. exporters by countering the export credit assistance of other governments. As a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Ex-Im Bank's policies conform, closely resembling those of all other major exporting countries. The OECD agreement binds us to a common set of operating rules and principles.
My foreign buyers want credit terms, but I require letters of credit or cash in advance. I don't want to lose these sales. Can Ex-Im Bank help?
For US goods and services, Ex-Im Bank offers export credit insurance policies to protect you against non-payment by your foreign buyers, allowing you to meet - or beat - your competitors by offering attractive terms to your buyers. The policies protect you against non-payment for both commercial and political risks, and will generally allow you to extend credit terms up to 180 days for consumer durables, and up to 5 years for capital equipment. The insurance premiums are low, and you may pass them off to your buyer.
My foreign buyer wants me to invoice in his local currency instead of US dollars. Can I still be protected against non-payment?
Yes! Under Ex-Im Bank's trade credit insurance policies and guarantees, you may invoice in several hard currencies without our prior approval; these include Canadian dollars, British pound sterling, Japanese yen, French francs, German deutschemarks, Swiss francs, and of course, Euros. If you wish to invoice in a different currency, or a third country currency, you will need to get us to pre-approve it and endorse it to your policy.
My foreign buyer has opened a letter of credit to buy my products but I have never heard of the issuing bank. How can Ex-Im Bank help me?
In addition to open account credit terms, Ex-Im Bank can insure you against non-payment on unconfirmed letters of credit, too! This includes sight or deferred payment letters of credit. You may access this coverage under either the single-buyer or multi-buyer policy; for letters of credit, both policies provide coverage at 95% for commercial and political risks. Insurance premiums are generally less for bank risk than for open account sales to private-sector buyers.
There are several options. You may apply directly by obtaining an application on this website at "Applications and Forms," or better yet, contact the regional office closest to you for assistance with filling out your application. You can also go through an insurance broker at no additional cost. However, we highly recommend that you first speak with an Ex-Im Bank representative before filling out an application.