By receiving grants, small and mid-sized businesses in Canada will be able to leverage additional capital to increase the scale and effectiveness of their market expansion project. This will improve brand awareness and drive new sources of export revenue.

Through this program, applicants may receive up to 25-50% of eligible project costs to a maximum grant of $99,999 per application. This funding will specifically reduce expenses related to trade shows, travel, and marketing material modifications specifically for new international target markets.

During the program’s first year in 2016, over 500 CanExport grants were awarded to Canadian businesses. If your organization hasn’t received export grants yet, use the following guide to understand the program in greater detail.

CanExport Grants for International Marketing and Growth

What are the program’s objectives?

The CanExport program helps growth-oriented businesses access new international markets, by providing Canadian business grants to offset export marketing costs. The program enables businesses to attract new customers, increase brand awareness, and develop export revenues in a new market.

The CanExport program helps growth-oriented Canadian business who are strategically expanding into international markets. By definition, a new market is a country where no revenues have been received in the last 24 months.

How much funding could my business potentially receive through the program?

The CanExport program will provide up to 25%-50% of eligible project costs to a maximum contribution of 99,999 per application. Businesses can re-apply for funding once their existing CanExport project has finished and final reporting has been completed.

There are no lifetime program caps on how much businesses can cumulatively receive. As long as there is a justifiable case for why the export market will drive company growth, there is a potential to be awarded with small business grants at the discretion of the funding agency.

CanExport Funding Eligibility Factors

Who is eligible to receive funding through the CanExport program?

The program is open to for-profit businesses in all sectors, except those in Agricultural and Agri-Food industries. Additionally, applicants must have:

  • 1 – 250 full time employees;
  • Annual revenue ranging from $200,000 to $50,000,000;
  • Incorporated federally or formed a limited liability partnership (LLP);
  • Project expenses are equal to $20,000 or more; and
  • Financial stability and the ability to pay all project expenses not covered by the program.

Eligible candidates must not have had any sales in the specified target market within the past 24 months.

What outcomes should my project provide?

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

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

What types of projects are eligible to receive CanExport grants?

The CanExport program will support projects that allow a Canadian business to gain exposure and find clients in new international markets. This supports activities including:

  • Developing marketing materials for international clients;
  • Travel to the new export country;
  • Participation at international trade shows; and
  • Completing foreign market research.

What type of projects are ineligible for CanExport government grants?

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

  • Activities in a foreign country where revenue has been generated in the past 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?

The following expenses may be covered by CanExport grants:

  • Trade show registration, participation, and related fees;
  • Travel expenses from Canada to the foreign country (for up to 2 reps);
  • Ground transportation from airport to destination;
  • Daily per diem of $400 CAD (for up to 2 reps);
  • Consulting fees for business-to-business (B2B) matchmaking services; and
  • Marketing material translation fees.

Canadian government funding may cover additional costs if there is direct evidence proving than an expense will yield incremental benefits.

What project expenses are not eligible to receive CanExport grants?

The following project expenses are ineligible to receive CanExport funding:

  • Routine or ongoing expenses for core activities that are not specific to the project;
  • Project expenses already incurred prior to formal approval into the CanExport program;
  • Employee salaries, wages, commissions;
  • Research and development of products;
  • Entertainment and hospitality fees (beyond what is permitted through per diem funds);
  • Phone, data, and roaming fees;
  • Lobbying or influencing of government policies;
  • Membership fees or event sponsorship;
  • Development of marketing plans;
  • Website development or maintenance fees; and
  • Any applicable taxes.

CanExport funding will not cover any project expenses incurred prior to signing the contribution agreement.

Applying for CanExport Small Business Expansion Grants

Are there any restrictions regarding project timelines?

Participating businesses are encouraged to avoid incurring any project expenses prior to signing a contribution agreement. Applications should be submitted at least 8 weeks prior to incurring the first project expense to accommodate the review process.

Will my business need to provide proof or revenue to be considered?

Participating businesses must provide proof of annual revenues equal to $200,000-$50,000,000. Additionally, the business will need to prove that it has not generated any sales revenue in the export market within the past 24 months.

When is the ideal time to apply for program funding?

Applicants should apply to CanExport well in advance of participating in trade shows. Since expenses are only deemed eligible once businesses have received approval, companies can expand the size of grant they receive by applying well ahead of any costs being incurred.

Business must apply at least 8 weeks prior to their trade show. This will simplify the planning process and ensure a maximum financial return.

How should my business apply for the program?

Eligible businesses are required to submit a 10-page application, which must include an outline defining the business’ export strategy, project timelines, and estimated budget.

Businesses can simplify and accelerate this application process by discussing their project with Mentor Works’ team of Government Funding Planners™. Contact Mentor Works to learn how CanExport and other Canadian government funding programs can optimize your financial strategy.

How will my application be evaluated? How long might it take to be approved?

Global Affairs Canada will review all applications, which must meet the program’s eligibility criteria to be considered for funding. Applications must demonstrate a clear opportunity for the business to conducting marketing tasks that will help the company establish itself in a new export market.

Application approval times may vary, however, on average it takes approximately 25 business days to review and approve from the date of submission.

Can I apply to the CanExport program if this project is already receiving government funding?

Businesses can offset the project’s costs by leveraging other sources of government funding, however, the stacking limit is set at a maximum 50% of the total eligible project costs.

How many applications are allowed?

Participating businesses may only have one application active any given time. If a company is applying for another trade show, the first project must be complete, with a final project report, before more grants may be awarded.

When can my business expect to receive a funding contribution?

Project expenses are reimbursed throughout the duration of the project’s lifetime. To trigger these payments, businesses must submit an expense claim and a status report that provides an overview of the project outcomes that have been achieved.

The program is committed to re-paying any claims within 20 business days of receiving the claim and status report.

Businesses will not be required to submit receipts, but are encouraged to keep copies in the event of an audit.

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.

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.

Businesses that re-apply must provide proof that all prior project activities have concluded and all claims have been processed.

Learn More About CanExport Export Marketing Grants

Get StartedProgram OverviewEligibility Criteria


This post originally appeared on Mentor Works. Mentor Works helps established for-profit companies find and leverage Canadian business grants and loans.