CanExport COVID-19 Updates: Frequently Asked Questions

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COVID-19 Update: The CanExport funding program is not supporting any travel-related activities (e.g., tradeshows) until further notice. However, there are several other eligible projects for funding to assist with pandemic support and international expansion.

The CanExport Canadian government funding program supports export market development projects. Businesses can receive grants for projects including government-led trade missions and participation in trade shows. By accessing Canadian government grants for these types of activities, businesses can reduce the risks associated with expanding international reach, ultimately helping to accelerate international growth.

Through CanExport, Canadian businesses may access up to 75% of costs associated with export marketing projects to a maximum $75,000 per application.

This article further explores frequently asked questions about CanExport, including general program information, eligibility criteria, and how to apply. To learn more about the general program criteria and COVID-19 updates, please refer to the CanExport program page.

About CanExport Market Development Grants

What is CanExport?

COVID-19 Update: The CanExport program has decided to temporarily suspend grants for travel or trade show-related projects, though there are other non-travel-related eligible activities such as virtual events, marketing tools, and market research. To learn more about eligible projects for COVID-19 CanExport funding, please visit our CanExport COVID-19 Eligibility page.

The CanExport program is a popular Canadian government grant that supports businesses as they explore/expand new and under-developed international markets. The export grant is specifically designed to help firms participate in trade shows where company representatives travel to an export market and meet with potential customers. Through these projects, Canadian companies can more aggressively pursue export market development activities and drive greater revenues from customers outside of Canada.

How much funding could my business receive through the program?

Through the CanExport program, companies may access up to 75% of project costs to a maximum $75,000 in non-repayable funding per project. The maximum annual CanExport funding per applicant is $99,999 per government fiscal year, which begins April 1 and ends March 31.

COVID-19 Update: Travel and trade show-related activities are currently ineligible and will not qualify under the current CanExport program criteria. Learn more about CanExport updates and eligibility on the main program page.   

Participating businesses may only have one application active at any given time. If a company is applying for another trade show, the previous project must be complete, including a final project report, before more export market development grants may be awarded. Up to two applications can be submitted per government fiscal year.

Who administers the CanExport Program?

CanExport is being co-delivered by the Government of Canada through an administrative arrangement between Global Affairs Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) and the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP). NRC-IRAP has been chosen as a partner for its expertise in providing support and funding to Canadian SMEs.

What outcomes should my project provide?

Applicants must demonstrate how the project will result in sustained benefits, both for the business and Canada. This includes:

  • Development of new jobs;
  • Strengthening of international value chains; and
  • Diversification of international revenue streams.

CanExport Funding Eligibility Factors

Who is eligible for CanExport Grants?

Canadian businesses eligible for CanExport must fulfill the following criteria during COVID-19:

  • Be a for-profit;
  • Earn annual revenues ranging from $100,000 to $100,000,000;
  • Maintain 1 to 500 full-time employees;
  • Be incorporated federally or classified as a limited liability partnership (LLP);
  • Create eligible project expenses of $20,000 or more; and
  • Be financially stable and able to pay all project expenses not covered by the program. Businesses in the agricultural or agri-food sector are NOW eligible for CanExport grants.

What activities are eligible for funding?

The CanExport program will support projects that allow a Canadian business to gain exposure and find clients in new international markets. The eligible activities have changed during COVID-19. This includes activities such as:

  • Marketing tools creation, adaptation, and translation;
  • Business, tax, and legal advice;
  • Participation at virtual trade events and fairs;
  • Interpretation services;
  • Search engine optimization (SEO);
  • IP protection, certification, and adaptation; and
  • Market research, feasibility studies, identification of key contacts, and b2b facilitation.

What activities are ineligible for CanExport funding?

The following project activities are not eligible to receive CanExport business grants:

  • Activities in a foreign country where more than 10% or $100,000 of total sales has been generated in the last 24 months;
  • Ongoing or operational activities not associated with market expansion;
  • Language training and other educational services; and
  • Promoting Canadian investment or seeking economic immigrants.

Which project expenses are covered by Canadian government grants?

COVID-19 Update: Any expenses related to travel or trade show-related activities are not currently covered by the CanExport program.

The following are examples of expenses that may be covered by CanExport grants:

  • Ground transportation from airport to destination;
  • Trade show registration and participation fees;
  • Marketing material translation fees;
  • Travel expenses from Canada to a selected foreign country (for up to two employees);
  • Daily per diem of $400 CAD (for up to two reps);
  • Consulting fees for business-to-business (B2B) matchmaking services. (max 66% of total budget); and
  • Expenses to access an online sales platform or online advertising (e.g., Facebook, Google Adwords, etc.) – the application must specify how the chosen platform directly targets your chosen market(s).

Which project expenses are ineligible for CanExport Grants?

The following project expenses cannot be claimed for CanExport funding:

  • Any applicable taxes;
  • Data, phone, and roaming fees;
  • Development of marketing plans;
  • Event sponsorship membership fees;
  • Research and development of products;
  • Food demonstrations;
  • Website development or maintenance fees;
  • Costs of participating in Canadian trade shows;
  • Wages, employee salaries, and commissions;
  • Influencing of government policies or lobbying;
  • Routine or ongoing expenses for activities that are not project-specific;
  • Project expenses already incurred prior to formal approval into the CanExport program; and
  • Entertainment and hospitality fees (beyond what is permitted through per diem funds).

Is the US considered one market?

Brazil, China, India, and the United States are now split into several markets. The United States, for example, is split into Midwest, Northeast, South, and West regions. Hence if a company currently exports to the Midwest only, they can submit a new application to expand to the Northeast market. You can target up to five markets per CanExport application.

  • Midwest: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
  • Northeast: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
  • South: Alabama, Arkansas, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia, and West Virginia.
  • West: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Does the applicant have to attend a trade show to be eligible for CanExport?

COVID-19 Update: Travel and trade show activities are currently ineligible for funding from the CanExport program due to the ongoing pandemic.

No – project activities can focus on marketing activities, business development trips, or even roadshows to increase brand awareness. Trade show attendance without exhibition is eligible.

How to Apply for CanExport Funding

When should I apply for funding?

CanExport funding applications should be submitted at least eight weeks prior to incurring project expenses, which requires companies to start the application process well ahead of initiating international business expansion activities.

How can I apply for CanExport funding?

Application forms can be accessed online and once completed will be approximately 8-10 pages in length, plus supporting documentation. An application will include an outline defining the business’ export strategy, project timelines, and estimated budget.

Can I apply for CanExport if I’ve received additional funding?

Firms may apply for and receive funding from other sources, but the total level of government assistance (provincial, federal, territorial, and municipal) cannot exceed 75% of the total eligible expenses for the same activities or projects.

What is the application assessment criteria?

If an application meets the basic eligibility criteria, it will be assessed against mandatory and rated criteria:

  • Incrementality: Demonstrating that the project goes beyond core activities and will yield incremental results;
  • Market Potential: Any opportunities or challenges anticipated as it relates to the business’ products or services;
  • History and Export Readiness: Previous success in export market development projects, including any projects previously funded by the government;
  • Export Business Case: Strength of the application’s export business case and alignment of the export business case to the firm’s overarching business strategy; and
  • Alignment to Government Trade Strategies/Priorities: How the firm’s proposed project and activities, products or services, and target markets relate to the Government of Canada’s trade strategies.

When will I know if my application has been accepted or rejected?

Global Affairs Canada will review all CanExport applications that meet the program’s basic eligibility criteria. Applications must demonstrate a clear opportunity for the business to conduct marketing tasks that will help establish a new export market.

Application approval times may vary, however, and on average it takes approximately 60 business days to review and approve applications from the date of submission.

If your application is declined, you will receive an email giving a brief explanation of the reason(s) why the application could not be considered, or the proposed project could not be supported.

Once approved, what are my responsibilities moving forward?

After receiving approval and signing a contribution agreement, applicants have the responsibility of filing project expense claims and detailed project reports outlining the project’s activities and outcomes.

Applicants will also be required to submit an annual report for three years following the end of the project, which should describe the benefits to Canada based on the project’s results.

If accepted, when would I receive the funding contribution?

Companies must submit a claim for reimbursement of costs incurred directly following the completion of the approved activity or activities as outlined in the Contribution Agreement. Claims are typically processed within 20 days.

You do not need to include receipts with your claim for reimbursement, unless specifically requested. It is required, however, to maintain receipts and records of expenses for the life of the agreement.

When can my business start the project?

Businesses can begin executing a project once the company’s application has received formal approval into the CanExport program and a contribution agreement has been signed.

To discuss your business’ eligibility for CanExport or learn about alternative funding programs available for COVID-19 support, please contact Mentor Works.

 Funding Funding Now, Contact Mentor Works

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