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The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) is an initiative of the Government of Canada.  The official Government website is

How to Apply for CEBA? 6 Essential Steps!

How to Apply for CEBA
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Navigating the world of business financing can often feel like trekking through an intricate maze. Among various options, the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) shines as a beacon for businesses in need. However, small businesses can only take advantage of the fund if they know how to apply for CEBA.

If you are a business owner looking for guidance on how to apply for CEBA, we have got you covered! We will give you a step-by-step guide to help you apply for the fund.

What is CEBA?

What is CEBA

The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) is a lifeline extended by the Canadian government to businesses grappling with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This initiative offers interest-free loans to eligible businesses and, under certain conditions, even the prospects of loan forgiveness, providing a cushion to businesses in this tough economic climate.

The eligibility criteria for CEBA stipulates that businesses must have a functional business account before March 1, 2020. Businesses must reach out to their local banking institutions to gain in-depth insights into the loan terms, repayment schedules, and other vital information related to the program.

CEBA serves as a valuable financial resource for small Canadian businesses and not-for-profit organizations urgently needing financial assistance during the COVID crisis. It provides up to $20,000 in loan forgiveness, contingent upon the loan being repaid by December 31, 2023, and flexible repayment terms for those who qualify.

One of the standout features of CEBA is the zero-interest financing it offers. This means businesses can tap into this capital without worrying about additional costs or burdens. They can focus their resources on mitigating other expenses, making the CEBA loan a particularly appealing option for establishments seeking financial support during these challenging times.

6 Essential Steps – How to Apply for CEBA?

6 Steps on How to Apply for CEBA

Applying for the CEBA loan is relatively straightforward. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you get started:

Step 1: Meet the Eligibility Criteria

Before applying for the CEBA loan, businesses must ensure they meet the CEBA eligibility criteria. The application process is bifurcated into two streams:

  1. The Payroll Stream: This stream is for applicants who had employment income between Cdn.$20,000 and Cdn.$1,500,000 in the calendar year 2019.
  2. The Non-Deferrable Expense Stream: This stream is intended for applicants with Cdn.$20,000 or less in total employment income paid in the 2019 calendar year.

Regardless of the stream, every applicant must comply with the following criteria:

  • Possess an active CRA Business Number (BN) registered on or before March 1, 2020.
  • Maintain an active business checking/operating account with the Lender at the time of applying for CEBA. If the borrower does not currently have a business checking/operating account, they are required to create one at their primary financial institution before applying for CEBA.
  • Must not have previously utilized the Canada Emergency Business Account Program (the “Program”) and cannot apply for support under the Program at any other financial institution.
  • Express an intention to continue operating their business or to resume operations.

Additional criteria apply to those falling into the Non-Deferrable Expenses Stream:

  • Must have eligible non-deferrable expenses between Cdn. $40,000 and Cdn. $1,500,000. Such expenses may include costs like rent, property taxes, utilities, and insurance. These expenses are subject to verification and audit by the Government of Canada.
  • Must have filed an income tax return with the CRA with a tax year ending in 2019 or, if the tax return for 2019 has not been submitted, 2018.

Step 2: Gather the Required Documents

The second step towards applying for a CEBA loan involves preparing and gathering the necessary documents. Depending on your business’s size and nature, the required documentation may vary.

For businesses with payroll, the 2019 T4 Summary of Remuneration Paid statement, which summarizes the previous year’s remuneration paid to all employees, is typically required. As an employer, you would have received this summary from the Canada Revenue Agency. The T4 Summary is a crucial document that provides an overview of your business’s payroll size and structure, enabling the government to assess your need for the CEBA loan.

If your business doesn’t have payroll, the government primarily looks at non-deferrable expenses, such as rent or property taxes. For this, you should prepare proof of these expenses, which may include invoices, contracts, or leases. These documents should clearly indicate the cost and nature of the expense, and the obligation to pay must have existed before March 1, 2020.

It is important to note the unique aspect of the CEBA loan application process. Unlike traditional loans, the CEBA does not require businesses to provide proof of revenue streams or demonstrate the ability to repay the loan. This is in line with the government’s aim to provide relief to businesses facing financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the CEBA loans aim to support businesses that can prove they are legitimate entities with a genuine financial need. This emphasis on need over creditworthiness makes the CEBA loan a more accessible form of financial aid for many businesses.

Step 3: Reach Out to a Financial Institution

Once you’ve determined your business’s eligibility and gathered all the necessary documentation, the next step is to apply for a CEBA loan through a participating financial institution. It’s important to underscore that the CEBA program is facilitated by a broad range of reputable financial institutions across Canada, ensuring businesses have ample options to choose from.

Prominent Canadian banks such as the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Bank of Montreal (BMO), Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), and the Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank) all act as conduits for the CEBA application process. These banks, well-established and deeply rooted in the Canadian financial landscape, have the infrastructure and resources to help businesses navigate the application process.

In addition to these major banking institutions, several credit unions across Canada participate in the CEBA program. Institutions such as Meridian Credit Union, Vancity, and Servus Credit Union also facilitate CEBA applications. Credit unions often foster a more personalized relationship with their clients and can offer a more customized approach to guide business owners through the application process.

The financial institution you choose, whether a major bank or a credit union, will play a pivotal role in your CEBA application process. They’ll provide you with the application form, guide you through the process, answer any questions you might have, and submit the application on your behalf. Therefore, it’s essential to choose a financial institution that not only participates in the CEBA program but also understands your business’s unique needs and circumstances.

Step 4: Fill Out the Application Form

Once you’ve chosen a suitable financial institution, the next step is to fill out the CEBA application form. The form will provide detailed information about your business and its current financial situation. It’ll also ask for documents that you collected when preparing for your application, such as proof of eligibile payroll expenses or non-deferrable expenses.

The completion of the CEBA application form is a crucial step in the process, as it serves to support your business’s claim for financial aid. It should be filled out accurately and thoroughly, making sure that all relevant details are included. This will ease the approval process and ensure that your application is considered fairly based on its merits.

Step 5: Finalize and Submit the Application

After you’ve diligently filled out your CEBA application form, the final step in the process is to review, finalize, and submit your application. It’s recommended that you take some time to double-check all the provided information for accuracy and consistency. Remember that any discrepancies or incorrect information could lead to delays or even denial of your application.

Once you’re confident that all information and accompanying documentation are correct and complete, you can proceed to the submission stage. This usually involves either delivering the application form directly to your chosen financial institution or submitting it online through the institution’s dedicated portal.

Step 6: Confirmation

Once you’ve submitted your application, the next step in the CEBA loan process is the review and approval by your chosen financial institution. This bank or credit union will meticulously evaluate your file, checking for completeness, accuracy, and the legitimacy of your financial need. Upon approval, the banking institution will provide you with a confirmation and proceed to disburse the CEBA Loan funds.

This process is pivotal as it often leads to the establishment of new relationships between business owners and financial institutions. Given that the CEBA program necessitates administering the loans through approved financial institutions, many entrepreneurs may find themselves forging connections with new banks or organizations. These relationships hold significant potential, particularly because the majority of the CEBA loans are yet to be repaid. As such, these financial institutions will play an integral role in the timely CEBA repayment process in the future.


In conclusion, the process of applying for the CEBA loan is straightforward yet critical for businesses seeking financial relief amid the COVID-19 pandemic. From determining eligibility to choosing a dependable financial institution to meticulously filling out the application form, each step plays a pivotal role in securing this essential aid. The CEBA program, unlike traditional loan systems, places an emphasis on necessity rather than creditworthiness, offering a lifeline to businesses of various scales and sectors.

Ultimately, the CEBA loan is not just about immediate financial aid but also about fostering long-term relationships with financial institutions that can provide further support and guidance as businesses navigate their economic recovery. It’s essential for business owners to approach this process with clarity, accuracy, and an understanding of their unique needs to fully leverage the potential benefits of the CEBA loan.

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