Site logo

Application for COVID-19 Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

April 6, 2020

COVID-19 economic support measures announced in the past weeks will begin to become accessible in the weeks to come. Some benefits, like the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy CEWS, will be accessible through CRA’s My Account and payments will be made through direct deposit or cheques. CRA My Account is a secure portal that lets you view your personal income tax and benefit information and manage your tax affairs online.  Direct deposit payments will be received more quickly than cheques.

CERB applications begin on Monday, April 6, 2020, and can be made in two ways:

  • Online with CRA My Account
  • Over the phone with an automated phone service

If you intend to apply for these benefits, you are advised to prepare in advance in order to make your application as easy and as quick as possible. Ensure you are set up for an online application and ensure you have updated direct deposit information on file with CRA.

Before You Apply – Ensure you are set up with a CRA My Account:

If you are applying online, you will need a CRA My Account to apply.

If you already have a CRA My Account, then ensure it is ready to use:

  • Ensure you know your user id and password. If you forgot your user id or password, recover them by going to CRA My Account, select ‘CRA Login’ and select ‘Forgot Your User Id’ or ‘Forgot Your Password’. In order to retrieve these, you will need:
  • Your social insurance number (SIN)
  • Your date of birth
  • Your last assessed tax return (2018)
  • Your answers to your security questions set up when you originally registered
  • Login and ensure you have access. If you are locked out, the quickest way for you to apply for CERB will be over the phone (see below).
  • Ensure your mailing and direct deposit information is up to date and set up (see below)

If you do not have a CRA My Account but you have a My Service Canada Account, you do not need to register for a CRA My Account. Instead, you should follow the steps below.

  • Sign in to My Service Canada Account
  • Look for the link to “Switch to Canada Revenue Agency”and then “I agree” on the Registration and authentication page. This transfers you to CRA My Account.
  • Update your address and direct deposit with CRA (CRA does not have your personal information from your My Service Canada Account).
  • Complete the application once it becomes available on August 6 onwards.

If you do not have CRA My Account or a My Service Canada Account, register for a CRA My Account by following the steps below:


Ensure your Direct Deposit and Mailing Information is up-to-date with the CRA:

The CRA will issue payments by direct deposit or cheque, based on the payment method they have on file for you. Ensure your direct deposit and mailing information is up to date.  You can set up / update your direct deposit information by any of these methods:

  • Online: Sign in to CRA My Account and update your information;
  • Through your financial institution by providing consent. Visit your financial institution’s website for more information;
  • By phone 1-800-959-8281.

How to Apply:

Application for CERB will begin on Monday, April 6, 2020. You can apply online or by phone:

To apply online, log in to CRA My Account:

  • Go to COVID-19: Canada Emergency Response Benefit in the alert banner at the top of the page
  • Select the period you want to apply for
  • Declare that you qualify for the benefit
  • Confirm CRA has the right payment information

To apply by phone,  call 1-800-959-2019 and follow the instructions. If you are calling the CRA on behalf of someone else, you must be an authorized representative. To verify your identity, you will need:

  • your social insurance number (SIN)
  • postal code

Guidance for when to apply is based on your birth month as follows:

Birth Month

Apply for CERB on:

Best Day to Apply

January, February, March


April 6

April, May, June


April 7

July, August, September


April 8

October, November, December


April 9

Any month

Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays

April 10

After You Apply:

Understand the payment periods

If you are eligible for the CERB, you can expect $2,000 ($500 per week) for a 4-week period. Each payment of the CERB covers a 4-week period, beginning March 15, 2020. When you apply, it is for a single payment for the 4-week period. If your situation continues, you can apply for an additional 4-week period, up to a maximum of 16 weeks (4 periods in total).

Note: These benefits are taxable and you will need to report any payments received on next year’s tax filing. An information slip will be made available for the 2020 tax year in My Account under Tax Information Slips (T4 and more).

When to Expect Payment

If you are getting your payment by direct deposit, expect your payment within 3 business days from the day you submitted your application

Complete the application once it becomes available from April 6 onwards.

If you are getting your payment by cheque, expect to get the cheque within 10 business days from the day you submitted your application.

Apply Again Every 4 Weeks

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.

Who Can Apply:

To be eligible, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You reside in Canada
  • You are 15 years old or more when you apply
  • For your first CERB application:
    • You have stopped or will stop working due to reasons related to COVID-19
    • For at least 14 days in a row for the period you are applying for, you will not receive:
      • employment income
      • self-employment income
      • provincial or federal benefits related to maternity or paternity leave
  • For your subsequent CERB applications:
    • You continue to not work due to reasons related to COVID-19
    • For the 4 week period you are applying for, you will not receive:
      • employment income;
      • self-employment income; or
      • provincial or federal benefits related to maternity or paternity leave.
    • You have not quit your job voluntarily
    • You did not apply for, nor receive, CERB or EI benefits from Service Canada for the same eligibility period
  • You earned a minimum of $5,000 income in the last 12 months or in 2019 from one or more of the following sources:
    • employment income
    • self-employment income
    • regular dividends
    • provincial or federal benefits related to maternity or paternity leave

If you would like more information on this topic, please contact a member of the Empire CPA team by filling out the contact form below.

Canadian and foreign tax laws are complex and have a tendency to change on a frequent basis. As such, the content published above is believed to be accurate as of the date of this post. Before implementing any tax planning, please seek professional advice from a qualified tax professional. Empire, Chartered Professional Accountants will not accept any liability for any tax ramifications that may result from acting based on the information contained above.

Share this post

Related posts