Frequently Asked Questions​

Do you have a question about STEP? See below for a list of our most frequently asked questions. If your question is not listed here, please contact us.

Program Overview

How much funding is my business eligible to receive?

Eligible California businesses can receive up to $10,000 to offset 75% of approved expenses via the Export Voucher Program and participate in up to two (2) STEP Events during the federal fiscal year period of October 1, 2022, to September 30, 2023.

For more information regarding the application timelines and eligible activities, please visit our Program Details page.

Do I have to pay back any funding that I receive?

These are grant funds, so no payback is necessary.  Please note, however, that in some cases the businesses are reimbursed for funds already expended, so there may be an initial outlay required prior to reimbursement.

In receiving funding, you agree to respond to surveys that are conducted by the California STEP team. Surveys help us to assess the quality and effectiveness of the services and allow us to collect export outcomes associated with California STEP support.

Who is prohibited from participating in the STEP Program?
Businesses that meet any of the following criteria are prohibited from participating in the STEP Program:

  • Does not meet SBA small business size standards;
  • Is based in a foreign country;
  • Is engaged in any activity that is illegal under federal, state, or local law or that can reasonably be determined to support or facilitate any activity that is illegal under federal, state, or local law;
  • Derives more than one-third of its gross annual revenue from legal gambling activities;
  • Presents live performances of a prurient sexual nature or derives more than a de minimus amount of revenue from the sale of products or services of a prurient sexual nature;
  • Is not organized for profit; or
  • Is listed on the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration Tax Delinquencies list.
I applied for STEP, does that mean I automatically applied for Export Voucher program?

No. To participate in a STEP program activity, you must register at (link to application) When completing the form, you must select the STEP export promotion activity from the activity list found on the registration page. If you do not select “Export Voucher” from the list, you have NOT applied for the Export Voucher program.

I have previously applied for an Export Voucher (previously known as ICEP), do I have to register again?

Yes. Each time you wish to request funds you must apply using the STEP Grant Application Portal and select “Export Voucher”.

When will additional funds become available/be announced?

All updates related to funding availability will be posted in real time on the STEP Program Details webpage. We invite you to visit the site frequently to stay up to date. You may also sign up to receive our International Affairs and Trade Monthly Newsletter to receive email updates.

Is STEP only for businesses that already export?
No. The grant is designed to help businesses that are new to exporting and those that are looking to expand their export activities.
Can I use STEP funding to help start a business?
No. STEP funds are not business start-up funds. Eligible companies must be in business for a minimum of one year prior to participating in the STEP program. If you are new-to-export, you will need to demonstrate that your business has an export strategy in place. Details about STEP and Export Voucher eligibility criteria can be found in our Program Guidelines.


Can two businesses with the same owner or parent company be eligible to receive STEP funding in the same year?

No. If two or more businesses are owned by the same parent company, then the parent company is the applicant and is eligible for only one award per funding period. Please note that the parent company must also meet the STEP eligibility requirements, factoring in its own business size/revenue and those of its subsidiaries.

My entity status with the California Secretary of State is not active, am I still eligible?

No. We cannot move forward with an application until the status with the California Secretary of State is active. For more information on why your business entity is suspended/forfeited and how to revive it, please visit

Export Promotion Activities

I have been pre-approved for an Export Voucher reimbursement, but my export activities have changed. Do I need to update the California STEP administrators?

Yes. Please respond to the latest email communication with an updated form detailing the new activities to be undertaken. We want to ensure the new activities are in compliance with STEP criteria and that you can be reimbursed for stated activities.

Is my activity an eligible expense?

For an overview of STEP-eligible expenses, please see our Program Details page. For a more comprehensive list of eligible and ineligible expenses, see our Eligibility Guidelines.