CanExport $50k Funding – A Guide to the SME Export Grant

Erica Yu
12 min read
Published April 24, 2024
grow illustration
Table of Contents

What is CanExport?

The CanExport SME is a government funding program designed to support Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) looking to expand into the USA and other international markets.

2024 Update: CanExport SME is now open for applications from February 29 to May 31, 2024.
Note: In previous years, this program has closed before the official intake end date. The last update we received from the trade commissioner on April 18th stated “For now we are planning on staying open until May 31st, 2024, but we suggest that you submit your application as soon as you can.”

canexport grant logo

This small business grant is structured as a cost sharing program that covers 50% of costs of various export activities including marketing initiatives, website changes, trade shows, market research, and even travel costs for trade shows.

CanExport has limited funding available on a first-come, first-served basis. Once funds for the fiscal year are fully allocated, applications will no longer be accepting applications.

CanExport also has three other programs for R&D collaborations, trade associations and non-profits which are not covered in this article.

What is the CanExport funding amount?

The CanExport SME program provides up to $10,000 and $50,000 to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) registered in Canada to break into the global market per application.

Successful applicants receive the following: 

  • 50% of project costs covered for projects between $20,000 and $100,000.
  • Applicants have the opportunity to seek funding multiple times, provided their previous CanExport application has completed and all reporting obligations have been fulfilled.

What is the CanExport SME eligibility?

To be eligible for the CanExport grant, Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises must meet the following:

  • for-profit, incorporated legal entity, limited liability partnership (LLP) or cooperative
  • have a Canada Revenue Agency business number
  • employ fewer than 500 full-time equivalent employees (including part-time calculations)
  • have $100,000 to $100 million in declared revenue in Canada during its past fiscal year (or 12 months for quarterly filers)

What does the CanExport SME grant cover?

The CanExport SME grant funding has a broader range of eligible costs than other grants such as CDAP. Most spending can be divided into two categories: 

  1. Non-travel activities including:
  • Website adaptations including new websites (targeting new markets)
  • Landing pages and website localization
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Market research studies and feasibility studies
  • Online advertising (Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, X Ads)
  • Applying for intellectual property protection in international markets
  • Applying for certification in international markets
  • Legal, tax and business consulting
  • Creating marketing materials including video and social media
  • Virtual trade shows, networking functions, conferences
  1. Travel activities including:
  • Trade events and in-person conferences
  • Travel costs including flights, accommodations and per diem expenses
  • Participating in a trade mission

Projects ineligible for CanExport SME funding are:

  • Engaging in activities within a foreign country where sales exceeding 10% or $100,000 of the total sales have been generated in the past 24 months.
  • Ongoing or operational activities that are not linked to market expansion.
  • Language training and similar educational services.
  • Promotion of Canadian investment or the pursuit of economic immigrants.

How do I apply for the CanExport grant?

Applying for CanExport SME as a new applicant

To apply for the CanExport SMEs grant as a new applicant, follow these steps:

  1. Register for an account on the online portal.
  2. Complete the My Profile section and click Update.
  3. Complete the Application Basic Eligibility (assessment period: 7 business days).
  4. You will receive an email on whether your Pre-Screening information has been validated.
    1. If you receive an email stating Basic Eligibility: Criteria Not Met, consult Section 2.1 of the applicant’s guide.
    2. If you receive an email stating Pre-Screening information validated, update the Account Profile (this can only be done by the Account Primary Contact – Legal Signing Authority). 
  5. Once the Account Profile has been submitted, complete the CanExport SMEs Application.
    Click on My Applications tab > CanExport. On this page, click New Application > SME.
  6. Submit a completed application at least 60 business days before the start date of the first proposed activity. 

Applying for CanExport SME as a previous recipient

  1. Existing clients should not register for a new account.
  2. Complete your information under My Profile and click Update.
  3. Update the Account Profile (this can only be done by the Account Primary Contact -Legal Signing Authority). 
  4. Once the Account Profile has been submitted, complete the CanExport SMEs Application.
    Click on My Applications tab > CanExport. On this page, click New Application > SME.
  5. Submit a completed application at least 60 business days before the start date of the first proposed activity. 

Important Notes: 

  • Once an application has been submitted, it cannot be edited or changed.
  • A confirmation email will be sent to the applicant to confirm receipt of submission.
  • CanExport SMEs aims to make review applications in 60 business days, plus 7 days for first-time applicants to process the Application Basic Eligibility.
  • We recommend for all applicants (new and reapplicants) familiarize themselves with the applicant’s guide to understand the eligibility criteria, what is and is not covered by the grant, and what to expect after applying. 

CanExport FAQ

My application was denied, can I refute it?

Decisions are final and non-negotiable.

To be reconsidered, applicants will have to submit a new project for review taking into consideration the comments provided by the program.

I qualified for the CanExport SME grant, now what?

Recipients can expect to receive their funding agreement by email within 10-12 business days. An authorized individual of the firm will need to review, sign and return the funding agreement within 20 business days of the date of receipt.

If the funding agreement is not returned within 20 business days, the funding will be considered forfeited.

What is on the CanExport SME funding agreement?

The funding agreement outlines: 

  • project start date
  • project termination date
  • approved target markets
  • approved activities
  • funding amounts (by fiscal year in case of multi-year projects)
  • reporting requirements

How will I be reimbursed?

CanExport SMEs will reimburse eligible expenses in Canadian dollars. If project expenses are incurred in another currency, proof of the exchange rate for the transaction should be kept.

Funding recipients must keep financial records and segregate CanExport project costs from their normal operation costs. 

Recipients must keep receipts, proof of payment, and proof of travel for 5 years after completion of their project in case of an audit.

What if I want to reallocate my funds to different target markets or activities?

You can reallocate funds between approved target market(s) and categories of activities as long as the expenses respect the total allocation per fiscal year and take place during the project phase. 

Small modifications are permitted as long as they are in line with the strategy outlined in the application.

My project is almost complete, what do I need to provide?

All recipients must submit a final report no later than 7 days after the project completion date. Contribution recipients must include a final claim with their final report.

The final report will ask you to detail:

  • activities completed
  • project outcomes in relation to expected results
  • successes in target markets
  • successes outside of target markets as a result of CanExport SMEs activities
  • challenges encountered
  • lessons learned

In the event that you do not satisfy the terms and conditions of the funding agreement, repayment of funds may be requested.

Who do I contact for questions on my CanExport SME grant?

Send general enquiries such as cost eligibility and invoice / documentation requirements that’s not covered in the official CanExport SME’s Applicant’s Guide, email

If you have questions about the following, contact .

  • Your funding agreement
  • Reporting
  • Claims

Any technical problems related to your account or the application process, contact

Do you need help with grant writing for the CanExport grant?

Big Cedar has helped several Canadian small businesses write a project plan, complete their application, and get approved for the CanExport grant. Any costs associated with the application are fully reimbursed should you partner with us to execute the plan. 

If you have completed an application and are looking for advice, review and feedback, we charge an hourly fee for this service.

Curious what the application process looks like? See our CanExport SMEs How-to Guide for a Successful Application, with screenshots of the beginning of the application.

Reach out to us well before the application deadline as the program is likely to be closed for applications before the May 31st deadline. Book a free consultation with Big Cedar to discuss how you can best use this program to get funding to boost your digital marketing and business technology to expand into international markets. Big Cedar is also a certified digital advisor for the Government of Canada’s CDAP grant.