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. CRA My Account is a secure portal that lets you view your personal income tax and benefit information and manage your tax affairs online. Payments will be made through direct deposit or cheques, although 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:

  1. Online with CRA My Account
  2. 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 quick as possible. Ensure you are set up for online application and ensure you have updated direct deposit information on file with CRA.


Before You Apply


A. 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 are 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 information with CRA (CRA does not have your personal information from your My Service Canada Account).
• Complete the application once it becomes available on April 6.

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:

• Go to:
• Select Option 2 ‘Using a CRA user ID and password’, select ‘CRA register
• Follow the prompts. Information you will need:

– Social insurance number
– Postal code
– Date of birth
– Tax information from your 2018 tax return*
* Updated notes April 7, 2020:
If you have filed tax returns for calendars years prior to 2018, you will need to call 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041 to apply.
If you have never filed a tax return before with the CRA, you will need to call 1-800-959-8281 to apply. 
B. 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.




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

To apply online, login 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




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.
• 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.



This article has been written in general terms to provide broad guidance only. It should not be relied upon to cover specific situations and you should not act upon the information contained herein without obtaining specific professional advice.  Please contact our office to discuss this information in the context of your specific circumstances. We accept no responsibility for any loss or damage resulting from your reliance on the information in this article.




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