The Trade Finance Guide is a concise, simple, and easy-to-understand guide designed to help U.S. small and medium-sized exporters learn quickly how to get paid from their foreign customers in the most effective manner.
Last Published: 4/30/2018

Finance Your Way to New Sales and Ensure Getting Paid with this Key Resource     

Is your business looking to make that export sale, but needs clarity on financing options and methods? Did you know that having open account terms may help win customers in competitive markets? Is insisting on cash-in-advance always a good idea? What are the advantages of exporting on consignment? What do I need to know about export working capital financing or export credit insurance? Get answers to these questions and a wealth of other information in a trusted resource: The Trade Finance Guide: A Quick Reference for U.S. Exporters. 

Ninety-five percent of the world’s potential consumers live outside of the United States, and many U.S. businesses continue to take advantage of these market opportunities. However, many other businesses are hesitant to export or expand into new markets due to risks such as non-payment or delayed payment by foreign buyers, political and commercial risks, and for other reasons. The result is missed opportunities. Is your business one of them?  
Concise, simple, and easy-to-understand, the Trade Finance Guide is helping numerous small- and medium-sized businesses turn export opportunities into actual sales. And it can help your business too. How? By providing practical, how-to advice in a simplified format to help achieve the goal of getting paid—especially on time—and effectively managing risks associated with doing business internationally. 
This edition includes information on commercial trade finance instruments as well as U.S. government export financing resources and programs available through the U.S. Export-Import Bank (EXIM Bank), U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). And there’s plenty more as outlined in the 14 chapters below:  
  • Introduction
  • Methods of Payment in International Trade
  • Cash-in-Advance
  • Letters of Credit
  • Documentary Collections
  • Open Account Consignment
  • Export Working Capital Financing 
  • Government-Guaranteed Export Working Capital Loan Programs
  • Export Credit Insurance
  • Export Factoring
  • Forfaiting
  • Government-Assisted Foreign Buyer Financing
  • Government-Backed Agricultural Export Financing
  • Foreign Exchange Risk Management

How to Obtain the Trade Finance Guide    

The Trade Finance Guide (both English and Spanish versions) is available online for free download at, the U.S. government’s export portal. Print copies of the Guide may be available upon request, but are subject to limited availability. For more information, contact the project manager and author of the Guide, Yuki Fujiyama, tel. (202) 482-3468; e-mail, in the Office of Finance & Insurance Industries at the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce

Where to Learn More about Trade Finance:

  • As the official export credit agency of the United States, EXIM Bank offers trade finance seminars for exporters and lenders in Washington, D.C. and nationwide. For the latest schedule, visit the EXIM website or call 1-800-565-EXIM(3496)    
  • A Basic Guide to Exporting is an excellent resource. See Chapter 14: Methods of Payment and Chapter 15: Financing Export Transactions.​

Prepared by the U.S. Commercial Service in embassies and consulates abroad. With its network of 100+ offices across the United States and in more than 75 markets, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration helps U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate a U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist nearest you by visiting”