How can you obtain payment for your international debt?

Published on 14 February 2023 in Cash management

An international receivable is an unpaid invoice from a foreign debtor. This means you have to deal with laws and regulations that are different from those in your own country.

How can you ensure fast, efficient collection of a foreign debt? Here are the answers from our network of collection experts around the world.

Find out about foreign collection laws

This approach requires a great deal of rigor. You'll need to look at the collection laws in place in the country, as well as the laws in place in your own country to collect international debts.

To fully understand the rules and possible courses of action, it's advisable to consult a debt collection expert in your debtor's country. While a collection professional in your country may be able to initiate international procedures, a local professional will be more familiar with the methods and procedures that are effective in his or her own country.

Once you have an overview of the steps you can take from your own country, and in the country of your debtor. It's up to you to put together a complete, well-argued dossier.

Take into account the country's payment terms (DSO)

In most countries in the world, payment deadlines are not respected. For example, in France, although invoices are payable within 30 days, the DSO is 65 days according to the Allianz "Debt collection complexity" study, and an invoice is paid on average 12.5 days late.

Taking foreign customers' payment habits into account can help you avoid premature collection procedures, or even damage your relationship with the customer in question. Of course, an invoice due on D+1 is a receivable. But it often happens that a delay of a few days is tacitly granted.

Find a contact person to talk to your customer

As with a simple debt, the first step in your collection process is to enter into amicable negotiations with your debtor. Understand late payment and propose solutions.

But this requires a good level of conversation, and if possible in your debtor's native language. If you have to interact in a language that is neither your native tongue nor that of your debtor, misunderstandings and difficulties in understanding each other can damage the relationship.

By using a locally-based collection company, you can engage in more effective discussions and obtain clear explanations of the situation.

International legal proceedings launched

International legal proceedings are never easy. You'll have to work within the country's laws, converse in a language that isn't necessarily your own, and the distance and time difference can lengthen the procedure.

The costs of international proceedings are often higher than those of national claims, due to the costs of translation and legal assistance. If you already have a contact person in the country in charge of the file, these procedures and fees will be much lighter to collect.

Call on an international network of collection agencies

The SEKUNDI network draws its strength from the size of its network of collection agencies around the world. Our presence in over 30 countries and on every continent means we can handle almost any collection request you may have.

For each application, there is a SEKUNDI partner in your country and a SEKUNDI partner in the country of your claim. Our partners will be your best advisors if you start a collection procedure. In fact, their local knowledge enables them to advise you on the steps that are most likely to be successful.

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