Program Details

The California STEP program is designed to offer financial assistance to eligible California small businesses pursuing export sales in foreign markets. Eligible companies can participate in our pre-selected/STEP supported international trade shows, trade missions, or they can apply for a STEP Export Voucher (previously known as the Individual Company Export Promotion program or ICEP). The California State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) is funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.


To be eligible for STEP funding, California small businesses must meet the following criteria:

  • For-profit Business
  • Organized or incorporated in the U.S.
  • Majority operations in California
  • Exporting goods or services of U.S. origin or that have at least 51% U.S. content.
  • Meet SBA small business size standards (which vary by NAICS code based on either annual receipts or number of employees)
  • Registered and in good standing in the State of California
    • Corporation or LC/LLC must have an Active status with the California Secretary of State
    • Sole Proprietors must have an active business license with their respective city or county
  • In business for at least one year at the time that the funded activity takes place.
  • Have sufficient resources to bear the costs associated with trade, including the costs of packing, shipping, freight forwarding, and customs brokers.
  • See the Program Guidelines for additional details.

Export Voucher Application Period

Round Application Period For Activities Implemented
1 CLOSED: Aug. 14, 2022 – Nov. 19, 2022 Oct. 1, 2022 – Dec. 31, 2022
2 CLOSED: Nov. 21, 2022 – Feb. 2, 2023 Jan. 1, 2023 – Mar. 31, 2023
3 CLOSED: Feb. 6, 2023 – May 12, 2023* Apr. 1, 2023 – June 30, 2023

Funding for the Export Voucher has been exhausted. Please subscribe to the International Affairs and Trade Newsletter to be informed of future funding opportunities.

Business Resources

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STEP Program Guidelines

Review program eligibility, allowable expenses, and selection criteria in PDF form

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Export Voucher Application Sample

The sample application will provide an idea of what to expect for the STEP application

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Application Process Guide

Use this guide to help submit your application through the STEP Grant Portal

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STEP Program Training Video

Watch a step-by-step video on how to submit a successful STEP application

Overview of the STEP Event Application Process

Step 1

Review the pre-selected STEP funded events.

Step 2

Business creates a profile and submits the STEP Event Application for the selected event.

Step 3

GO-Biz notifies businesses of status. Selected applicants will participate in the selected event a reduced cost.

Overview of the Export Voucher Reimbursement Process

Step 1

Business creates a profile and submits the STEP Export Voucher Application through the grant portal site.

Step 2

Applications are reviewed and assessed according to eligibility criteria and the merits of the proposal.

Step 3

GO-Biz notifies business of their application status and collects required documentation, if approved.

Step 4

Business executes the activities that have been approved in their application.

Step 5

Business submits all required reimbursement materials to GO-Biz through the grant portal, including an invoice, receipts, and proof of activity.

Step 6

GO-Biz processes and issues the reimbursement voucher.

Allowable Expenses

International Trade Shows & Trade Missions

  • Exhibitions/participation fee(s)
  • Booth space costs
  • Booth funishings
  • Catalog listing fees
  • Translation fees

U.S. Commercial Service Products

  • Gold Key Service (GKS)
  • Initial Market Check (IMC)
  • International Partner Search (IPS)
  • And more

Website Globalization & E-Commerce

  • Website translations
  • International Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Localization services
  • E-Commerce platform, hosting, and maintenance fees targeting international buyers

International Marketing Materials

  • Social media marketing campaigns directed at foreign markets 
  • Design & graphics costs for foreign markets (excludes printing costs) 
  • Product labeling costs 
  • Translation of documents


  • Shipping product samples and materials to eligible promotional activities: trade shows, trade missions, and business meetings (virtual or in-person)



  • Export-import credit insurance fees
  • Intellectual property protections
  • Compliance testing
  • Export research tools

NOTE: The Export Voucher program funds cannot be used in conjunction with any other California STEP event. Review the Program Guidelines for expenses that are NOT eligible for reimbursement.