Applicant’s Guide to the CanExport Program

Table of contents


To be considered for possible funding, a firm must meet the following basic criteria:

All of the above criteria will be verify by the CRA via the business identifier number indicated in the application.

Eligible Activities

To be eligible, activities must aim to promote international business development and must go beyond the applicant’s core activities, represent new initiatives and provide an opportunity to yield incremental results. They also should happen entirely within the timeframe of the project phase. For illustrative purposes, these activities could include:

Ineligible activities

Eligible Expenses

To be eligible, expenses need to be incurred within the project phase. Eligible expenditures are shared up to a maximum of 50 percent between CanExport and the applicant. For illustrative purposes, please see the following examples of eligible expenses with important details:

Travel for meetings/events with key contacts from target market

Participation to trade events to meet key contacts from target market


Interpretation services for target market

Marketing tools- adaptation and translation for target market


IP protection/certification/ adaptation of contracts for target market


*Consultant fees associated with these activities need to be included in the following category, “Business, tax or legal advice for target market”.

* Business, tax or legal advice for target market


* Market research/ key contacts identification/b2b for target market


*Expenses associated with the categorization of activities marked with an asterisk are considered consultant fees. When approved, CanExport can cover up to 50 percent of the value of these expenses, just like the program would for all other type of expenses. However, the total costs for consultant services must not exceed 25 percent of the total eligible cost of the entire CanExport project.

Ineligible expenses

Though most expenses supporting international business development are eligible, as described above, following is a list of expenses that are deemed to be ineligible under this program:

Eligible Markets

CanExport is open, with few exceptionsFootnote 2, to all markets. Applicants will need to provide a rationale as to why their firm want to enter this specific market and explain that they have either never exported to this market or at have not substantially exported to this market within the last 24 months.

In order to provide more flexibility and include more companies that might have had only limited sales in the target market they now want to pursue, a de minimis exemption for sales can be allowed if:


However, if the company wants to pursue a project targeting more than one "target market”, it will be considered eligible if:


Large emerging markets (China, India and Brazil) are also segmented into sub-national markets, as indicated below. Export sales eligibility will apply per region. This means that if an applicant is active in one sub-market, they may still apply for support to target another region of that same country.




List of Eligible Sectors

CanExport is open, with few exceptions, to all industry sectors. Note: the agriculture and processed food, fish and seafood, and wine, beer and spirits sectors are excluded from CanExport because companies active in these particular sectors and looking for export support are eligible to apply through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s AgriMarketing program.

Limits on Funding Requests

Preparing to Apply for CanExport

In order to ensure a smooth application process and complete application:

  1. Ensure that your firm meets the eligibility criteria set out in section 2 of this document.
  2. Verify that the proposed activities are eligible as outlined in section 3.
  3. Verify that your proposed expenses are eligible as outlined in section 4.
  4. It is advisable that you have the following necessary information on hand before completing the application:
    • Legal name of the firm;
    • Operating name of the firm (if different from the legal name);
    • Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) business identifier number;
    • Firm’s web address;
    • Primary contact’s name, title or role in the organization, phone number, fax number (if applicable), mailing address and email address;
    • Preferred language of correspondence (English or French);
    • Your firm and project North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) number;
    • List of target market (s) for your firm’s project;
    • List of active markets where you have exported in the last 24 months, total annual sales in each of the active market that are targeted in your project;
    • List of potential contacts, potential buyers and expected meetings, if you are travelling;
    • Project overview: a short description and the planned activities;
    • Evidence of organizational capacity to complete the proposed project and activities;
    • Expected results and benefits, including benefits to Canada, and explanations on how the project and activities proposed are incremental to the core business of your firm;
    • Assessment of key risks and corresponding mitigation strategies;
    • Project budget listing all activities for which the firm is seeking funding, the total eligible costs of the project, the firm’s contribution and the contribution the firm is seeking from the program;
    • Details concerning any contributions from other sources at the federal, provincial/territorial or municipal levels.
  5. Applicants are encouraged to discuss their international business development plans with the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) office in their region, where they can obtain assistance in preparing for international markets and support throughout the implementation. The TCS can also help you develop your business internationally by identifying market opportunities, barriers and trends or by making introductions to qualified foreign contacts. For more information on the TCS services offered, and to find the regional trade commissioner nearest to you who is responsible for your sector of activity, please visit the TCS’ website at Find a Trade Commissioner.

Assessment Process

Once the basic eligibility criteria are met, each application will be assessed on the basis of the proposed project’s incrementality, the soundness of the export business case, its alignment with Government of Canada trade strategies and, if the information is available, on the firm’s previous history and export readiness. More precisely, all applications that meet the eligibility criteria set out in section 2 will be assessed against the following five criteria:

A. Incrementality

Demonstration that the project goes beyond the applicant’s core activities, represents new initiatives and yields incremental results. The applicant will need to provide a specific rationale as to why they want to enter a new market where they have not had substantial sales within the last 24 months, i.e.:


However, if the company wants to pursue a project targeting more than one "target market”, it will be considered eligible if:


The applicant also needs to demonstrate what the expected results are, how these will be measured and what indicators will be used.

B. Export business case

The soundness of the export business case as described in the application form and the alignment of the export business case with the firm’s overarching business strategy (including resources available to perform the activities and to develop the new market).

C. Alignment with Government of Canada trade strategies and priorities

D. Market potential

E. History / export readiness

Decision and Contribution Agreement

Applicants can expect to obtain the results of the assessment process within 25 working days of a completed application. Global Affairs Canada will notify both successful and unsuccessful applicants, and will provide the successful applications to NRC-IRAP, which will prepare and mail the contribution agreement to each recipient. The recipient can expect to receive it in the mail within 10 to 12 business days. For successful applicants, an authorized officer of your firm will be asked to review, and sign and return the contribution agreement that sets out the approved activities and their associated costs, as well as the responsibilities and obligations, within 20 business days.

The firm must notify NRC-IRAP of any material modifications to the firm’s information, approved activities, approved costs, or any other issues that may require a change to the contribution agreement. Changes that represent a significant departure from the scope of the original contribution agreement will require the applicant to submit a new application for assessment. The applicant will be notified if a new application is required.

Note: activities that were rejected based on ineligibility in the original application cannot be resubmitted.

Claiming Process for Reimbursement of Eligible Expenses

Recipients will receive detailed information via email on the claiming and reporting process, upon the return of their signed contribution agreement.

Each claim must be accompanied by a status report as described in the contribution agreement, which details the activities and outcomes of your project, measured against the approved activities and project objectives. The Recipient must demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the NRC, acceptable undertaking of the Eligible Activities. Firms will submit their claims to NRC-IRAP for costs incurred between the start and end dates of the project phase of the signed contribution agreement. Firms will not be required to submit receipts. However, firms are required to keep adequate financial records and segregate CanExport project costs from their normal operation costs as the program may request proof of costs incurred. The terms of the signed contribution agreement will dictate the period for which recipients are expected to keep these financial records. The segregation of project costs means the ability to provide traceability of CanExport project costs from normal operating costs. For travel costs, more precisely air travel, firms will be requested to provide estimates of economy class airfare at the time of their application, and could be asked to submit receipts of costs incurred when submitting their claim. The program will endeavor to pay claims within 20 working days of receiving the claim and associated report.

Activity Monitoring, Audit, Evaluation and Reporting

The Government of Canada will monitor activities, conduct audits and evaluations and seek information on program results.

Site visits: On occasion, Global Affairs Canada or the NRC may visit the firm at its place of business or at the site where approved projects and activities are taking place. Such visits may require access to a site for a time; program recipients will be expected to grant such access. Such visits ensure that approved activities are being carried out.

Audits: All recipients of program funding may be subject to an audit. If a firm has been selected for audit, it will be notified well in advance. Audits normally occur after the expiry date of the agreement and are carried out by the Global Affairs Canada or by professional auditing firms on behalf of the Global Affairs Canada. That is why it is imperative that firms maintain records of activities to substantiate costs incurred, including dates, times and locations of travel, the name and role of the staff traveling and the use of consultants, as well as receipts for all expenses related to the approved activities set out in the contribution agreement terms and conditions. If overpayment is identified in the audit, the firm will be asked for reimbursement. Failure to provide payment may be deemed a breach of the contribution agreement.

Evaluation: An evaluation of a program will be conducted. Program recipients may be asked to provide performance-related information to an evaluator or to respond to a questionnaire to support the evaluation.

Results reports: Program recipients must submit a status report with their claim and a post-project report at the end of the contribution agreement project phase. The report will ask questions relating to the details of activities conducted, challenges encountered, concrete project outcomes, including in relations to the expected results (note that the project “expected results” to be achieved by the Recipient are referring to the “expected results” that were provided by the Recipient in their initial submission of the online application form to the program, in section 6.” Project information”, under the question “Incrementality” ) , as well as successes achieved in the new market. The firm will also be asked to report an annual snapshot for three years following the end of the project, on the benefits resulting from the project. The snapshot will ask questions regarding continued export sales and assess the benefits to your company generated by the funded project. Specifically, the company will need to report their number of employees, total revenue, international sales revenue, and list of countries it has exported to in the last fiscal year.

Sign up and apply for CanExport.

Feedback or Questions

If you require additional information about CanExport or would like to provide us with your comments or suggestions on this Guide, please contact us at or by phone at 1-866-203-2454. For more information, you can also consult our website.

Please note that Global Affairs Canada and the NRC are committed to protecting the privacy rights of individuals and safeguarding the personal information under its control. Personal information collected by Global Affairs Canada and the NRC is protected from disclosure to unauthorized persons and/or agencies subject to the provisions of the Privacy Act. Individuals have the right to the protection of and access to their personal information and to request corrections where the individual believes there is an error or omission. Individuals may contact Global Affairs Canada’s Access to Information and Privacy Protection Division to request corrections.


Benefits to Canada

Benefits to Canada resulting from export activity may include the creation of new jobs, an increase in revenues for Canadian firms, an increase in transactions with foreign firms or an increase in Canadian gross domestic product.

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Business Number (BN)

The BN is a nine-digit identifier for businesses to simplify their dealings with federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal governments in Canada. The number is assigned by the Canada Revenue Agency. It aims to give each registered business its own unique number.

Contribution Agreement

A contribution agreement is a legal agreement between the two parties, in this case the Government of Canada and the recipient, which sets out the terms and conditions of the funding, as well as the legal and reporting obligations of each party.


Incrementality is a project that goes beyond the applicant’s core activities, represents new initiatives and yields incremental results.

Legal name

The legal name of your business is the name you choose when you apply to incorporate a company under the Canada Business Corporations Act. If you do not choose a name, you are assigned a numbered name and this is your legal name.


The term “market” refers to:

The term “target market” refers to:

The term “new market” refers to a country or sub-region in which the company meets the following de minimis characteristics:


However, if the company wants to pursue a project targeting more than one "target market”, the “new markets” will need to meet the following characteristics:


The term “active market” refers to:

NAICS number

The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is used by businesses and governments to classify and measure economic activity in the United States, Canada and Mexico. NAICS is 6-digit code system that is currently the standard used by federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments according to the similarity in the processes used to produce goods or services. Each and every company will have a primary NAICS code. This number indicates a company’s primary line of business. A company’s primary NAICS code is the code definition that generates the highest revenue for that company at a specific location in the past year.

Operating name

Your operating name is the name you use in your day-to-day activities and to advertise your business. You only need to provide your operating name if it is different from your legal name.

Other government assistance

Other Canadian government sources of funding include funding provided by federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal governments.

Primary contact

The primary contact is the employee of your firm designated as the main contact point for communications regarding your firm’s application. The primary contact must have full legal signing authority to sign the application and contribution form.


For the purpose of the program, a “project” is defined as the grouping of activities to be undertaken in the target market, during the period established in the approved application.

Qualified foreign contacts

Qualified foreign contacts may include foreign buyers and partners. If a company requires assistance from the Trade Commissioner Service in order to identify and qualify key contacts, it should visit the following websites:

Revenues from international sales

The revenues from international sales cover the income from the sale of goods and services to non-Canadian residents as well as revenue earned from interest and dividends on foreign assets.

Stacking limit

The stacking limit refers to the maximum level of total Canadian government funding (federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal) a successful applicant can receive towards the total eligible costs of a project.

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