Dealing with debts from overseas clients


No-one likes to have to chase their clients for money; it can feel awkward and may put pressure on business relationships.

Although it’s not much fun, invoicing is a necessary part of being successful and remaining solvent but having a documented invoicing procedure can make it seem less personal.

Unfortunately there may be times when no matter how proactive you have been in chasing up an unpaid invoice, there are simply no signs of payment. Debt collection is the obvious answer for these cases and can often provide a swift and easy conclusion.

But what about clients who are based abroad? Is it possible to pursue debt recovery action for clients elsewhere in the EU?


Before you give up on getting your debt paid, take a closer look at the information below, you might be surprised at just how many rights you have.

Get professional help

If you are dealing with a UK debt, it’s possible to pursue payment without ever getting debt professionals involved.

However, when it comes to chasing a debt overseas it’s always advisable to get professional help. Dealing with international jurisdiction can be complicated and if you aren’t used to the legislation, it can be very time-consuming to wade through.

Although you might prefer to manage it yourself, it’s worth considering the potential cost. Dealing with the process and researching the relevant law will take a considerable amount of time; ask yourself whether it would be more cost-effective to plough that time into your business and allow a professional to manage the debt quickly and efficiently on your behalf…

Support from the EU

Cross-country clients are now a much more common entity than in the past; borders are becoming blurred and with the evolvement of e-commerce, not being physically present is no longer such an issue.

The EU has recognised the growing trend for international business transactions and has updated its late payment directives in a bid to help support those trying to chase debts.

The new directive is known as 2011/7/EU and explicitly states that all parties much pay their invoices within 60 days unless a longer payment period has been agreed by all concerned. If payment is late, an additional sum of €40 as a minimum can be added to cover compensation for recovery costs. Further payments can be added if necessary.

Different options

Pursuing a debt from an overseas client is undoubtedly more difficult than one present in the UK, but it is not impossible. If the amount is small, you may not feel the case is worth pursuing but even if the balance is not substantial, it may be worth taking action just to preserve your reputation and ensure potential clients know you expect debts to be paid.


If you opt to take action, there are different routes which you might wish to follow depending on the type of debt, the actions of the debtor and where they are residing.

Some of the options which may be available for debt recovery include European Enforcement Order (EEO), the Brussels Regulation, the Lugano Convention plus the Administration of Justice Act and the Foreign Judgements (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act.

Each of these debt recovery routes has different criteria and one may be more suitable for you than another, depending on the circumstances. Your debt recovery expert will be able to offer you advice and guidance on the best way to pursue the client for what they owe.


Recovering a debt from an overseas client is not an easy task but with the help of a debt recovery professional you could get the money you are owed.

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