How-to apply for Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

This page was updated on Thursday, April 16, 2020 at 10:50pm EST to reflect the expanded eligibility criteria for CERB.

By now you've probably heard about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and you likely have some questions: What is it? Do I qualify? When can I apply? How do I apply? When should I expect payment?

If any of this sounds familiar, then we believe this email should help you answer those questions plus a few more helpful tips for you to keep in mind.

What is it?

CERB is a taxable benefit that provides temporary financial support to Canadians who are directly affected by COVID-19.

The benefit is paid in blocks of four weeks in the amount of $2,000, which is equivalent to $500 per week, up to a maximum of 16 weeks.

Please note

This is a taxable benefit. You will need to report any payments received on next year's tax filing and will have to pay any applicable income tax.

Do I qualify?

CERB is available to individuals who have stopped working or have had their hours reduced as a result of COVID-19. If you haven't been able to secure new clients but are still working on projects with existing clients, you can be eligible if you're only earning up to $1,000 during the 4-week application period.

This benefit will be available to workers:

  • Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;
  • Who have stopped working or had their hours reduced because of COVID-19; and
  • Who had an income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application.

Please note

The $5,000 income does not have to be earned in Canada, but you need to reside in Canada.

When can I apply?

The Canada Revenue Agency will start accepting applications on April 6. However, the CRA has set up specific days for you to apply based on the month you were born in.

If you were born in the month of You can apply for CERB on Your first day to apply
January, February or March Mondays April 6
April, May, or June Tuesdays April 7
July, August, or September Wednesdays April 8
October, November, or December Thursdays April 9
Any month Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays  

Please note

The above dates aren't the only time to apply for CERB. The benefit is available from March 15, 2020, to October 3, 2020. You can apply no later than December 2, 2020.

How do I apply?

There are two ways to apply for CERB:

Please note

You will need to apply and confirm your eligibility for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit every 4 weeks (to a maximum of 16 weeks) if your situation continues.

When should I expect payment?

The CERB is paid by direct deposit or by cheque if your direct deposit information is not on file.

If you are eligible for CERB, you can expect your payment within 3 business days for direct deposits (or 10 business days for cheques)from the day you submitted your application.

Please note

You do not need to wait until next week to sign up for CRA My Account or to set up your direct deposit payment method. In fact, we recommend you sign in now to ensure all of your information is up to date.