An interview with UKEF

UK Export Finance is the operating name of the Export Credits Guarantee Department, the United Kingdom’s export credit agency and a ministerial department of the UK government. Their mission, taken from their website is “to ensure no viable UK export fails for lack of finance or insurance, while operating at no net cost to the taxpayer.” And “We support exports for any company size and across all sectors from capital goods to services and intangibles such as intellectual property. UKEF supports exporters to: access export finance. … win export contracts by offering competitive terms to buyers. UKEF works with banks and other financial institutions to support exports for any size of company and across all sectors, from capital goods to services and intangibles such as intellectual property”.

The Export Hub put the following questions to UKEF.

What are the minimum criteria from a financial position for an SME to be eligible for funding? (i.e. minimum balance sheet value/minimum export sales).

 There is no minimum but the company should be able to show a record of profitable trading – at least domestically – preferably over a number of years, or it is on its way to profitability.

 Does this vary depending on sector and products for export?

 We are agnostic to sectors – we support exports of products and services.

Does this vary if an SME is already exporting or is new to export?

New exporters are welcome.

 Which banks are in the UKEF Guarantee Scheme?

The main large British banks and an array of other international banks. Please consult our website

What costs will a business incur in arranging funding?

Case-by-case, depending on the bank and their agreement with the customer. UKEF’s services are free of net cost to the exporter.

Can this funding run alongside any additional funding arrangements?


Fundamentally what does an SME have to know to begin the process of applying for funding, being confident that if they can tick the boxes they have a realistic chance of success? What is their starting point?

Speak to their bank. They have the company’s financial and management track record. If unsuccessful refer to UKEF for direction. Another important point is the minimum 20% UK content in the product/service they are exporting. The company has to be set up in the UK with a Companies House registration number.

What are the key features of the Scheme?

Please refer to our website cited above. Essentially we can support banks to extend to the company export working capital and/or bonding facilities.

What circumstances would prohibit an SME from applying for and securing funding? (current or previous funding arrangements/history/type of products/ business structure etc)

Nothing prohibits a company from applying for funding support from UKEF. They have to do so through the bank.

What preparation would you advise an SME undertakes before applying for  funding to save time and ensure they are placed in pole position for a positive outcome?

Again, speak to the bank – this is the essential starting point. It would be useful to know the destination market: we are open for cover on the majority of countries, and there are countries that we support case-by-case. Our website gives full information on our covered countries.

You can email us at or call us on +44 (0)1279 437 662 or fill out the contact form.

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