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Canada Small Business Financing Program (CSBFP)

Learn about CSBFP guidelines and decide if this loan is right for your business.

The Canada Small Business Financing Program (CSBFP) can help you qualify for up to $1.15 million in business financing. These loans and lines of credit are backed by the Canadian government, so you can get access to funding you might not be able to qualify for on your own. They also come with some of the most competitive interest rates on the market. Find out more about CSBFP financing, and learn how to apply today.

What is the Canadian Small Business Financing Program?

The Canada Small Business Financing Program offers term loans up to $1 million to help you start or expand your business, plus lines of credit up to $150,000. These financing products are backed by a guarantee from the Canadian government, and are typically offered exclusively by banks and credit unions.

With a Canadian Small Business Financing Program loan, you can qualify for either a term loan or a line of credit:

  • Term loan.
    Get up to $1 million for term loans. Of this amount, no more than $500,000 can be used for equipment and leasehold improvements loans and no more than $150,000 can be used to cover intangible assets and working capital costs. Learn more below.
  • Line of credit.
    Borrow $150,000 for working capital costs on its own, or over and above the $150,000 that can be used for working capital costs under the term loan product. Learn more below.

Quick facts: CSBF program term loans

FeaturesDetails
Max. loan amount$1 million
Government-backed?Yes, it’s backed by the Canadian government, up to a maximum of 85%.
Who approves my application?Financial institutions deliver the program and are solely responsible for approving the loan. The lender disburses funds, and then registers the loan with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED)
Interest ratesYour lender sets the interest rates. Maximums outlined below.

Fixed: The maximum rate is the lender’s prime rate or single family residential mortgage rate for the term of the loan plus 3%.

Floating: The maximum chargeable is the lender’s prime lending rate plus 3%.

Fees2% registration fee
Allowable usesPurchase or improve business assets, max $500,000 for equipment, max $150,000 for working capital
Eligible small businessesCorporations, sole proprietors, partnerships, cooperatives, start-ups or not-for-profits operating anywhere in Canada with a gross annual revenue of $10 million or less
Ineligible small businessesFarming businesses

How does a CSBF program term loan work?

A Canadian Small Business Financing Program loan lets you borrow up to $1 million for your business, with fewer restrictions than a conventional loan. You can apply as an established company or a startup (as long as you make less than $10 million in annual revenue and have fewer than 500 employees).

The funds you borrow will be backed by the Canadian government (up to 85%), meaning that they’ll repay a large portion of your loan if you default. This makes it much safer for lenders to provide you with a loan, since they are guaranteed the majority of repayment, even if you default.

Registration information

All you need to do is find a lender willing to fund your application, and meet the eligibility criteria. Your lender will agree to your application and loan terms. Once the loan agreement is signed and finalized, your lender is responsible for registering the loan with the Canadian government (through the department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada).

Personal or corporate guarantees

You may be required to sign a personal or corporate guarantee to secure your funds. This will make you responsible for repaying the loan with your assets if you default. Your lender will only be able to collect repayments from the government once they have exhausted efforts to retrieve funds/assets you put up to secure your loan.

Accountability for payments

For CSBF term loans, any money you spend must be supported by proof of purchase such as invoices, purchase agreements and receipts. Your proof of payment documents must be in your company’s name and provide details of the items purchased (e.g., make, model, serial numbers etc.) or the work done in order to be eligible for reimbursement.

What businesses are eligible for a CSBF program term loan?

The Canadian Small Business Financing Program covers small businesses and startups in most sectors. There are only a handful of exclusions to be aware of.

  • What’s covered? Companies with a gross annual revenue of $10 million or less. These businesses can be corporations, sole proprietors, partnerships, non profits or cooperatives.
  • What’s not covered? The loan program excludes businesses with an annual revenue exceeding $10 million, as well as farming businesses. Farming businesses can instead access financing under the Canadian Agricultural Loans Act program.

What expenses are eligible for a CSBF program term loan?

You can use Canada Small Business Financing Program term loans to cover the following expenses:

ExpensesMax loan amountExamples of what might be covered
Buy or improve commercial land or buildingsUp to $1 million of total loan amount
  • Commercial real estate
Buy or improve new or used equipment or vehiclesUp to $500,000 of total loan amount
  • A fleet of commercial vehicles
  • Hotel or restaurant equipment
  • Computer or telecommunications equipment and software
Update or improve new or existing leaseholdsUp to $500,000 of total loan amount
  • Renovations to a leased building
  • Upgrading leased equipment
Intangible assets and working capital costsUp to $150,000 of total loan amount
  • Working capital needs such as salaries, rent, and utilities

What expenses are ineligible for a CSBF program term loan?

The following expenses would be ineligible for a CSBF program term loan:

  • Debt refinancing or consolidation
  • Investment purposes such as buying stocks or mutual funds
  • High-risk ventures that are largely speculative
  • Direct costs of running a farm

How much does a CSBF program term loan cost?

Your lender will set the interest rates for your loan, but they will have to follow certain rules for how much you have to pay:

  • Fixed rate loan. The maximum rate is the lender’s prime rate or single family residential mortgage rate plus 3%. For example, if the lender’s mortgage rate is 5.79% then the maximum you can pay for a CSBF loan is 8.79% in interest.
  • Variable rate loan. The maximum you’ll pay is the lender’s prime lending rate plus 3%. For example, if the lender’s prime rate is 6.09% then you can pay a maximum of 9.09%.

Beyond the rates you pay, you’ll also be charged a 2% registration fee on the full amount of your loan. For example, if you borrow $1 million dollars, you’ll pay a $20,000 fee. Registration fees have to be paid by the borrower to the lender, and they can be financed as part of your loan.

Repayment terms

You can schedule repayments based on your needs (monthly, blended, seasonal or escalating), though you’ll need to schedule at least one payment of principal and interest each year.

You’ll repay your loan over a maximum term of 15 years, although you may go up to 25 years for commercial real estate. The only caveat if your loan is greater than 15 years is that it will need to be converted to a conventional loan (usually with higher rates) after you reach the 15 year mark.

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How do I apply for a CSBF program term loan?

Below are the steps to apply for a Canadian Small Business Financing Program term loan:

  1. Determine eligibility. You’ll need to be a Canadian business with $10 million or less in annual revenue. You’ll also need to have less than 500 employees.
  2. Find a participating lender. You can get CSBF loans from banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions that participate in the program. Find a list of participating CSBFP lenders below.
  3. Fill out an application. Once you settle on a lender, you’ll have to fill out an application with information about yourself and your business.This can include your legal business name, address, whether you have partners and what type of business it is.
  4. Submit supporting documentation. Submit any required documents to support the information you’ve provided in your application. This can include financial statements, business plans, registration documents or tax returns. You may also need to submit information about your assets if you’re getting a secured loan.
  5. Submit your application. Submit your application to the lender, who will review your details and determine whether you’re eligible for a CSBF loan.

Compare a CSBFP loan with other business loan options

1 - 3 of 3
Name Product Interest Rate Loan Amount Loan Term Minimum Revenue Minimum Time in Business Loans Offered
OnDeck Business Loan
8.00% – 29.00%
$5,000 - $300,000
6 - 18 months
$100,000/year
6+ months
Secured Term, Line of Credit, Merchant Cash Advance
To be eligible, you must have been in business for at least 6 months with a minimum annual gross revenue of $100,000.

OnDeck offers fast and simple financing. Apply in less than 10 minutes with your basic business information and see your loan offers without hurting your credit score. Get approved within 1 business day, and choose your term, amount and payback schedule once approved.
Merchant Growth Business Loan
12.99% - 39.99%
$5,000 - $800,000
6 - 24 months
$10,000 /month
6 months
Unsecured Term, Line of Credit, Merchant Cash Advance
To be eligible, you must have been in business for at least 6 months and have a minimum of $10,000 in monthly sales.

Merchant Growth offers financing tailored to business needs. It specializes in providing capital based on future cash flows, but it also offers fixed solutions. Fill out an application within 5 minutes and get your funds within 24 hours.
Loans Canada Business Loan
6.60% - 29.00%
$4,000 - $500,000
3 - 60 months
over $10,000/month
100 days
Unsecured Term
To be eligible, you must have been in business for at least 100 days, have a Canadian business bank account and show a minimum of $10,000 in monthly deposits ($120,000/year).

Loans Canada connects Canadian small business owners to lenders offering financing up to $500,000. Complete one simple online application and get matched with your loan options.
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Quick facts: CSBF program line of credit

FeaturesDetails
Max. line of credit amount$150,000
Government-backed?Yes, it’s backed by the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED)
Who approves my application?Financial institutions deliver the program and are solely responsible for approving the line of credit. The lender disburses funds, and then registers the LoC with ISED.
Interest ratesFor lines of credit, the maximum chargeable is the lender’s prime lending rate plus 5%.
Fees2% registration fee based on credit limit
Allowable usesWorking capital only
Eligible small businessesCorporations, sole proprietors, partnerships, cooperatives, not-for-profits or start-ups operating anywhere in Canada with a gross annual revenue of $10 million or less
Ineligible small businessesFarming businesses

How does a CSBF program line of credit work?

A CSBFP line of credit lets you borrow up to $150,000 for your business, to cover your day-to-day operating expenses. You can apply as an established company or a startup (as long as you make less than $10 million in annual revenue and have fewer than 500 employees).

The funds you borrow will be backed by the Canadian government (up to 15%), meaning that they’ll repay a portion of your line of credit if you default. This makes it safer for lenders to provide you with access to funds, since they are guaranteed a portion of repayment.

Registration information

For a Canada Small Business Financing Program line of credit, you’ll need to fill out an application and if accepted, sign an attestation indicating that the line of credit will only be used to pay for working capital costs. You’ll also need to specify that working capital costs paid through the line of credit were not incurred more than 365 days prior to the date the line of credit was authorized. Your line of credit will be registered with the Canadian government by your lender.

Personal or corporate guarantees

You may be required to sign a personal or corporate guarantee to secure your funds. This will make you responsible for repaying the loan with your assets if you default. Your lender will only be able to collect repayments from the government once they have exhausted any funds/assets you put up to secure your line of credit.

What businesses are eligible for a CSBF program line of credit?

The CSBF program covers small businesses and startups in most sectors. There are only a handful of exclusions to be aware of.

  • What’s covered? Companies with a gross annual revenue of $10 million or less. These businesses can be corporations, sole proprietors, partnerships, cooperatives or not for profits.
  • What’s not covered? The loan program excludes businesses with an annual revenue exceeding $10 million, as well as farming businesses. Farming businesses can access financing under the Canadian Agricultural Loans Act program.

What expenses are eligible for a CSBF program line of credit?

ExpensesMax Loan AmountExamples of what might be covered
Intangible assets and working capital costsUp to $150,000 of total loan amountWorking capital needs such as salaries, rent and inventory

What expenses are ineligible for a CSBF program line of credit?

You can’t use a Canada Small Business Financing Program line of credit for anything other than working capital expenses. This means you can’t use the funds to purchase, lease or upgrade equipment. You also won’t be able to use funds for any of the exemptions listed under term loans. This includes debt consolidation, investing or financing direct farming expenses.

How much does a CSBF program line of credit cost?

Your lender will set the interest rates for your loan, but they will have to follow certain rules for how much you have to pay:

  • Maximum interest rate. The maximum interest rate for lines of credit is prime plus 5%
  • Registration fee. You’ll pay 2% of the amount of your authorized line of credit amount to register your line of credit.
  • Annual admin fee. You’ll pay an annual admin fee of 1.25% on the daily outstanding amount or the average daily balance each month.

Repayment terms

You’ll repay your line of credit based on how much you take out. The terms of your repayment will be negotiated with your lender. The maximum term for a CSBFP line of credit is 5 years.

How do I apply for a CSBF program line of credit?

Below are the steps to apply for a Canada Small Business Financing Program line of credit:

  1. Determine eligibility. You’ll need to be a Canadian business with $10 million or less in annual revenue. You’ll also need to have less than 500 employees.
  2. Find a participating lender. You can get CSBF lines of credit from banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions that participate in the program. Find a list of participating CSBFP lenders below.
  3. Fill out an application. Once you settle on a lender, you’ll have to fill out an application with information about yourself and your business.This can include your legal business name, address, whether you have partners and what type of business it is.
  4. Submit supporting documentation. Submit any required documents to support the information you’ve provided in your application. This can include financial statements, business plans, registration documents or tax returns. You may also have to provide information to verify assets you’re using for personal or business guarantees.
  5. Submit your application. Submit your application to the lender, who will review your details and determine whether you’re eligible for a CSBF line of credit.

Compare with other business lines of credit

1 - 2 of 2
Name Product Interest Rate Loan Amount Loan Term Minimum Revenue Minimum Time in Business Loans Offered
OnDeck Business Loan
8.00% – 29.00%
$5,000 - $300,000
6 - 18 months
$100,000/year
6+ months
Secured Term, Line of Credit, Merchant Cash Advance
To be eligible, you must have been in business for at least 6 months with a minimum annual gross revenue of $100,000.

OnDeck offers fast and simple financing. Apply in less than 10 minutes with your basic business information and see your loan offers without hurting your credit score. Get approved within 1 business day, and choose your term, amount and payback schedule once approved.
Merchant Growth Business Loan
12.99% - 39.99%
$5,000 - $800,000
6 - 24 months
$10,000 /month
6 months
Unsecured Term, Line of Credit, Merchant Cash Advance
To be eligible, you must have been in business for at least 6 months and have a minimum of $10,000 in monthly sales.

Merchant Growth offers financing tailored to business needs. It specializes in providing capital based on future cash flows, but it also offers fixed solutions. Fill out an application within 5 minutes and get your funds within 24 hours.
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Where can I get a CSBFP loan or line of credit?

You can get a CSBFP term loan or line of credit from banks and credit unions. It is not possible to get these types of loans from alterative, online lenders. Here is a full list of financial institutions that have partnered with the Canada Small Business Financing Program:

Large bankAlternative banksCredit unions
  • TD Financial
  • CIBC
  • BMO
  • RBC
  • Scotiabank
  • Canadian Western Bank
  • ATB Financial
  • HSBC
  • National Bank of Canada
  • CTBC Bank
  • Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
  • Keb Hana Bank Canada
  • Laurentian Bank of Canada
  • Shinhan Bank Canada
  • Peace Hills Trust
  • The majority of Canada’s Credit Unions
  • Caisses populaires Acadiennes
  • Caisses populaires de l’Ontario
  • Mouvement des caisses Desjardins

Bottom line

CSBFP loans and lines of credit can help you access government-backed funding for your business. Both types of financing products come with features such as lower than average interest rates, longer terms and more flexible repayment options than traditional loans. You can source CSBFP loans and lines of credit from banks and credit unions. To learn more about business loans and to compare your options, check out our full guide here.

Frequently asked questions about the CSBF program

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