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

5 Steps for Navigating the CEBA Loan Application Process

Navigating the CEBA Loan Application Process
Reading Time: 4 minutes

For many Canadian business owners, the Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan was a matter of survival. Business owners operating in hard-hit industries often had to choose between finding a way to survive the lockdown or being forced to close. And that’s where they need to indulge in navigating the CEBA Loan application process.

The CEBA program’s application deadline passed on June 30, 2021, and the dust has started to settle on the pandemic’s unprecedented disruption of the Canadian economy. Now, CEBA Loan applicants (and recipients) have major decisions to make. Only 13% of Canadian businesses have repaid their CEBA Loan—and with the loan forgiveness date of December 31, 2023 looming near, repaying the loans may prove to be less straightforward than obtaining them.

Applying for a CEBA Loan was straightforward. CEBA provided much-needed funds for businesses to cover operational costs during the various shutdowns by providing interest-free capital. Accessing these funds was made easy, thanks to the many participating banks and credit unions involved. However, there were still a number of steps businesses needed to take before gaining access to funds.

Navigating the CEBA Loan Application Process in 5 Steps

Whether you applied for a CEBA Loan and are now considering repayment, or if you haven’t yet taken the plunge, here are five steps to navigating the CEBA Loan application process.

Step 1: Assessment of Business Eligibility

Before applying for the CEBA program, Canadian business owners needed to confirm the business met CEBA eligibility criteria. This includes having a Canadian business number and having paid between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. The business must also have had an active business bank account with a participating institution and must have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. These program prerequisites mean some smaller Canadian businesses were excluded, although many had other COVID relief measures to use.

Step 2: Gather the Necessary Documentation

Depending on the size and nature of the business, different documentation may have been needed, such as the 2019 T4 Summary of Remuneration Paid statement or evidence of income/expenses (specifically for non-deferrable expenses like rent or property taxes) if the business does not have payroll.
Note that documentation did not include traditional underwriting criteria; rather than proving revenue streams or ability to repay, CEBA Loans were given to businesses who could prove they were legitimate entities with financial need.

Step 3: Contact a Financial Institution

Canadian businesses could apply for the CEBA Loan through a participating financial institution. Major 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 facilitated CEBA applications.

Several credit unions across Canada were also participating in the CEBA program, including Meridian Credit Union, Vancity, and Servus Credit Union. These institutions offer personalized services meant to guide business owners through the application process.

Step 4: Submit the Application

Once the business owners gathered all necessary documentation and confirmed eligibility, businesses could apply for a CEBA Loan directly through the financial institution’s online banking platform. Enterprises were expected to provide accurate and complete information about the business in order to avoid any potential delays in your application.

Step 5: Follow-Up and Confirmation

After applying, the bank or credit union reviewed the file. and upon approval, the banking institution provided business owners with a confirmation and subsequently disbursed the CEBA Loan. Given that the loans had to be administered by approved financial institutions in the CEBA program, many business owners may have formed relationships with new banks or other organizations. As most of these loans have yet to be repaid, these financial institutions will play a vital role in the future of CEBA repayment. 

The CEBA Loan wasn’t just a great option for businesses experiencing financial difficulties due to COVID-19. CEBA was a program unique in its approach and applicability, built to disburse funds quickly to businesses in need. CEBA Loans meant many business owners could survive the pandemic, but the future for repayment of these loans has yet to be seen. For more information on the program and the application process, visit


In conclusion, the CEBA Loan program served as a lifeline for many Canadian businesses during the unprecedented financial distress of the pandemic. While the application process was straightforward, the journey towards repayment remains challenging. The role of financial institutions remains crucial in guiding businesses through this unchartered territory of loan repayments.

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