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Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

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What Is CEBA?

The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) is a loan to help businesses pay their non-deferrable expenses during this challenging period. The CEBA has two streams of eligibility: the Payroll stream and the Non-Deferrable Expense stream. These loans are government-funded, interest-free and provided through financial institutions in cooperation with Export Development Canada (EDC).

Most recent update: On October 26, the federal government changed the CEBA’s eligibility criteria, allowing businesses operating with a personal bank account to access the program, as long as they were operating before March 1, 2020, and now successfully open a business bank account with their financial institution that offers the CEBA loan. The business must also meet the other existing CEBA criteria (see below). The deadline to apply is December 31, 2020.

To see a list of past CEBA updates, see our CEBA timeline.

Program Overview FAQ Our advocacy

CEBA Overview

How much your business can receive:

  • CEBA: an interest-free loan of up to $40,000. If you repay the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022, 25% of the loan will be forgivable (up to $10,000).
  • CEBA +: an additional interest-free loan of up to $20,000 for businesses who already qualified for the CEBA loan. If repaid within the deadline, up to $10,000 will be forgivable.

Program duration: April 9, 2020 to December 31, 2020

How to apply: Through your financial institution.

Application Deadline: December 31, 2020

Eligibility criteria: See the FAQ below for details.

Stay informed! CEBA+ details have not been announced by the government yet. We will inform all CFIB members as soon as they become available. If you’re not a CFIB member and would like to receive the CEBA+ updates by email, please subscribe to our email list.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is my business eligible for CEBA and CEBA+?

To determine if your business is eligible for CEBA, you must first assess if your business meets all the basic eligibility requirements below. Then you will have to determine if your business is eligible for either (1) the Payroll Stream OR (2) the Non-Deferrable Expense Stream. You must meet all the basic CEBA eligibility requirements:

  • You have an active CRA Business Number (BN) with an effective date of registration on or prior to March 1, 2020.
  • You have an active business chequing/operating account with your primary financial institution. If you currently don’t have a business chequing/operating account, you must create one at your financial institution before applying for CEBA.
  • You have not previously used CEBA and will not apply for CEBA at any other financial institution
  • You intend to continue to operate your business or to resume operations
  • You are willing to participate in post-funding surveys conducted by government or any of its agents
Payroll stream eligibility:
  • You must have a total employment income paid in the 2019 calendar year between $20,000 and $1.5 million (found on your T4 Sum).
Non-deferrable expense stream eligibility
  • You must have eligible non-deferrable expenses for the year of 2020 totalling between $40,000 and $1,500,000. For more details on what is an eligible non-deferrable expense, see below.
  • You must have filed an income tax return with the CRA for the tax year ending in 2019, or if your tax return for 2019 has not yet been submitted, 2018.

Note: if your business did not have any returns to file with CRA in 2018 or 2019, you can still file your returns with zero or “nil” owed online in your CRA My Business Account portal.

CEBA+ eligibility requirements:
  • The details of this program have yet to be legislated. That said, our conversations with government have led us to the following conclusions: Before you can apply to CEBA+ for the $20K interest-free loan, you must first have received the $40K interest-free CEBA loan. You will have to sign a self-attestation of having experienced a revenue drop due to COVID-19

CEBA+ will also be administered through your financial institution.

What is an eligible non-deferrable expense?

Expenses are included if they were incurred in January or February 2020 or were due (legally or contractually) as of March 1, 2020 and cannot be deferred beyond 2020.

The eligible non-deferrable expenses fall into nine categories:

  • Employee wages (included on a T4 slip)
  • Arm’s length (third-party) independent contractor invoices formalized between January 1st and March 1st, 2020
  • Payroll taxes
  • Benefits (e.g., pension, insurance coverage)
Rent or lease payments for real estate
  • Formalized commercial tenancy agreements
  • Note: this does not include proportional business use rent or lease payments for real estate.
Payments incurred for business insurance-related costs
  • Property insurance
  • Professional liability insurance
  • Vehicle insurance
  • Business interruption insurance
Business rent / lease for capital equipment
  • Capital equipment used for business purposes such as:
    • Machinery
    • Computer equipment
    • Furniture
    • Vehicles
    • Tractors

Note: This does not include fuel for the capital equipment use unless it is stipulated on an agreement or contract.

Payments incurred for property taxes Property tax bill dated in 2020
Utility payments incurred by the business Contract signed before March 1, 2020 for:
  • Telephone
  • Utilities such as:
    • Gas
    • Oil
    • Electricity
    • Water
    • Internet

Note: proportional business use utility payments will not be included unless the agreement or contract is in the name of the operating company.

Payments for regularly scheduled debt service
  • Lending agreement dated prior to March 1, 2020 with a contractual end date on or after January 1, 2020.
  • Invoice from lender dated in 2020.

What is not included or accepted through the CEBA application portal:

  • Financial institution statements
  • Credit card statements or receipts
  • Business financial statements (e.g., profit/loss statements)
  • CRA payment notices
  • GST/HST payment notices
Payments incurred under agreements with independent contractors and fees required in order to maintain licenses, authorizations, or permissions necessary to conduct business by the borrower All below agreements and invoices must be due or dated (legally or contractually) from January 1st, 2020 to March 1st, 2020. Please note that this list is not exhaustive.
  • Professional dues for licensed professionals
  • Fishing licenses
  • Taxi medallions
  • Software licensing and subscriptions
  • Patent fees
  • Accounting invoices
  • Legal service invoices
Payments incurred for materials consumed to produce a product ordinarily offered for sale by the borrower. Input materials that:
  • are consumed
  • are transformed
  • become part of the product that is ordinarily offered for sale

Examples of this include raw materials for the production of your product such as:

  • Ingredients
  • Seed
  • Livestock feed

This excludes:

  • Finished goods’ inventory
  • Work-in-progress inventory
  • Purchases of capital assets
How can I apply for CEBA and CEBA+?

Payroll stream:

You can apply for CEBA under the payroll stream through your financial institution. There are 233 financial institutions participating in providing CEBA across Canada.

Once your application is submitted, Export Development Canada (EDC) will assess it and inform your financial institution of the approval or denial of the loan. If approved, your financial institution will provide you with the funds directly into your business chequing / operating account.

Non-deferrable expense stream:

When applying for CEBA under the Eligible Non-Deferrable Expense Stream, you must follow a three-step process:

Step 1. Complete the online Pre-Screen Tool. This is a tool intended to provide guidance and inform your decision of whether to open a business account (if you don’t already have one) before applying for CEBA at your financial institution. If you are declined at this step, you can still apply for CEBA and must complete the next two steps.

Step 2. Ready to apply? Contact your financial institution where you hold your business chequing / operating account. They will direct you to the last step of the application process.

Step 3. Gather your documents. Once you complete your application through your financial institution, gather supporting documentation for all your Eligible Non-Deferrable Expenses (receipts, invoices and agreements). You will be directed to the CEBA Document Upload Website to submit that information and complete the application.

Remember you must wait for your financial institution to inform you if your application was approved or denied.

If you are experiencing technical difficulties while applying, change your browser to either Chrome, Safari, Firefox or Edge before starting the application process. Also, it helps to clear your cache and cookies history.

Need a guide?…

Have a question? Check the CEBA FAQ:

When will the CEBA expansion be available (aka CEBA+)?

Application details have not yet been released. CEBA+ will be available to all eligible (previous and new) CEBA applicants. Keep checking back for updates in the coming weeks.

Can I join a different financial institution to get the CEBA?

Yes, you can apply for the CEBA with a different financial institution (FI). We recommend that you complete the CEBA pre-screen tool before opening a new business account to apply for the CEBA (some FIs will require this step). If you are looking to make a switch, consider our partner Scotiabank, who offers CFIB members exclusive discounts.

Is CEBA taxable?

Yes, and no. Only the amount of the loan that was forgivable in the year it was received is taxable. The rest of the loan you received through CEBA is considered a repayable loan and does not need to be included in your revenue. When your financial institution provides you with your forgivable loan amount, you can declare your forgivable loan portion to the CRA in one of two ways:

(1) As revenue in your tax return. Elect to include the forgivable loan amount in the business income of the year in which the forgivable loan is received.

OR (2) As a business expense. Reduce the deduction for your business expense by the amount of the forgivable loan portion.

Need more advice? Please contact your accountant or the CRA to get accurate accounting advice on your reporting requirement for CEBA.

What if I am not eligible for CEBA?

If you are not eligible for CEBA, the federal government has funded other loan alternatives:

  • The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF). RRRF funding may support operating costs incurred during the first year of the pandemic, up to a maximum of $1 million. Financial assistance is interest-free and covers up to 100 percent of eligible costs. Support under $100, 000 will be advanced in a single payment directly to your business. You will benefit from a two-year ¨grace period¨ ending March 31, 2023 before you will have to start repaying the loan. To apply to the RRRF, contact your Regional Development Agency.
  • The Regional Relief and Recovery Plan. If you are not eligible for the RRRF, contact your local Community futures program to determine if you are eligible for their RRRF plan.
What if I am eligible, but am getting rejected for CEBA?
  1. Call the CEBA call centre. If you have already applied for CEBA and have questions, do not call the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) as the CRA does not administer the CEBA, but please call the dedicated CEBA Call Centre at 1-888-324-4201.
    You can ask:
    • What is the status of my application?
    • Why was my application declined?
    • Why was my submitted document rejected?

    If no one is available to take your call, you can leave a message and an agent will return your call within three business days, Monday through Friday, from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm EST.

    Need a guide?
    Have a question? Read the CEBA FAQ

  2. Call your financial institution's customer service line or branch line to be assigned to an accounts manager. They should be able to walk you through your application and help you determine the reason for your rejection. Send an email to [email protected] and include:
    • Your business legal name (according to your financial institution)
    • The name of your financial institution
    • A summary of your situation
    • Your contact information

    If you want to speak to a live person, we encourage you to keep in touch with CFIB (whether your CEBA application is successful or declined) by sharing your situation with a Business Counsellor at 1-888-234-2232 or by email at [email protected]

If I am rejected for CEBA, can I apply until I am accepted?

If you are rejected due to a need to update your financial institution’s profile, you may need to wait 24-48hrs for this to be updated before you apply again.

If you are rejected due to an inputting error, then you can try applying again. Financial institutions are telling us that they are seeing many inputting errors in applications. They do encourage you to try applying again.

Other CEBA Resources

What is CFIB advocating for on CEBA?

What we have achieved:

  • We pushed for the CEBA to be expanded to $60,000 from the original $40,000
  • We worked for months to get the government to expand access to businesses using personal accounts – which they have now done

What we’re pushing for:

  • Immediately include new firms.
  • Make it easier for small firms without a formal payroll to access CEBA, including those with less than $40,000 in non-deferrable expenses.
  • Further increase the amount forgiven to 50%.

How you can help:

  • We’ve pushed the government to make some progress, but we're still fighting for better relief measures. Add your voice today.


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