Collection of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) issued by Service Canada

For anyone who became eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) regular or sickness benefits on March 15, 2020 or later, their EI claim was automatically processed as a CERB payment through Service Canada.

Paying your debt all at once, and in full, helps you avoid legal and financial consequences. Ignoring your debt does not make it go away. If you can not pay in full now, no interest or penalty will be applied on your COVID-19 benefits overpayment debt. We can work with you to establish a payment arrangement. 

If you have any questions about your debt, visit Service Canada.  Please note that only Service Canada will be able to provide you with details about why you have an overpayment. The CRA does not have access to this information.

If you don’t agree with your overpayment, you will find information on the Request for reconsideration of an EI decision.

If you suspect fraudulent activity, you will find information on the Employment Insurance and fraud.

Debt payment

The CRA collects debts on behalf of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), including CERB overpayments from Service Canada. If you received emergency benefits from Service Canada that you were not entitled to, ESDC will send you a notice of debt.

Starting in 2022:

  • If you have a balance owing, the CRA may keep all or a portion of any tax refunds or GST/HST credits until the amount is repaid.
  • If you are receiving EI benefits, repayment of your CERB debt from Service Canada will be recovered automatically at 50% of your EI benefit rate. You can contact the CRA if you want to discuss an automatic recovery at a lower rate

Payment in full

Payment in full is due by the date indicated on your notice of debt or statement of account from ESDC.

To pay the full balance of your debt, go to Payment methods

Minimum monthly payment

If you cannot pay your debt in full when you receive your notice of debt, you will receive a statement of account from ESDC every month. When you can make the indicated minimum monthly payment, by the due date, the CRA will not contact you to increase your payment.

To pay the minimum monthly payment, go to Payment methods

Payment arrangement

If you cannot pay in full, or make the minimum monthly payment on your statement of account, the CRA may agree to a reduced regular payment. This allows you to make payments over time until your debt is paid in full.

A payment arrangement is an agreement between you and the CRA to pay your debt over a certain period of time. The CRA will work with you to determine the payment amount and the length of the payment arrangement.

The Income and expense worksheet is an optional budget tool to help you determine what you can afford to pay on a regular basis. A conversation with a CRA representative is still required to make a payment arrangement.

To make a payment arrangement:

  1. Contact the CRA to set up your payment arrangement
  2. Go to Payment methods to make your payment

You must pay as agreed, continue to file all returns on time, and stay up to date with your tax obligations. Payment arrangements are subject to periodic reviews.

Even if you have a payment arrangement and are making payments, the CRA is authorized to take amounts from any credits you receive in order to pay your debt.

If your situation changes and you cannot continue with your payment arrangement, you must contact the CRA. If you do not, the CRA may proceed with legal actions to collect the balance of your debt. Go to Consequences of not paying for more information.

If you are unable to make a payment or payment arrangement, go to Unable to pay.

If you cannot reach the CRA

Wait times could be longer than usual due to the high level of calls.  Follow the instructions in Payment methods to send a payment. If you are not sending payment in full or the minimum payment indicated on your statement, a CRA representative may contact you afterwards to discuss further the repayment of your debt.

Payment methods 

If you have other ESDC debts (Employment Insurance, Canada Student Loans in collections with the CRA, Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, etc.), the system will usually apply your payment toward your oldest ESDC debt unless you write on your cheque which debt you want to pay.

You can make you payment by:

  • Online banking

    Payments can be made online through your financial institution.

    • Select “Employment and Social Development Canada” as the payee.
    • Enter the Social Insurance Number (SIN) associated with the account.
    • If your financial institution requires 11 characters, add the letters “YY” or the numbers “00” at the end on your entry. 
  • Mail

    If you are unable to make your payments online, you may pay by sending a cheque or money order.

    • Make your cheque or money order payable to the “Receiver general for Canada”
    • Send your cheque or money order to the payment address indicated on your Notice of debt.
    • Include the remittance slip provided.
    • Write your Social Insurance Number (SIN) on the front of your cheque or money order and indicate it is for “Repayment of the CERB”

    Do not send any cash through the mail

    If you don’t have your Notice of debt with you, you can send your cheque or money order to the general address below:

    ESDC Remittances

    PO Box 1122

    Matane QC  G4W 4S7

    Note : If you still have the original cheque you can return the cheque by mail to the address above

Unable to pay 

If you cannot pay in full, or make the minimum monthly payment on your statement of account, contact the CRA.

If you do not call or make a payment arrangement, the CRA may take legal action to collect the balance. Go to Consequences of not paying for more information.

Financial hardship provision

You may apply for help under the financial hardship provision if your debt repayment makes it difficult for you to pay for basic needs such as housing, food, and utilities.

Insolvency or bankruptcy

If you are insolvent or under bankruptcy, contact your trustee about your CERB debt from Service Canada or visit the Office of the superintendent of bankruptcy for more information.

Consequences of not paying

If you do not pay your debt or refuse to cooperate, the CRA may take legal action which could result in serious financial or legal consequences for you.

Before starting legal action, the CRA must do the following:

  • make 3 attempts to give verbal legal warning by phone
  • send 1 written legal warning letter

For more information, go to Legal warning about collection of debt.

Once the CRA has started any of the following legal actions, the CRA will not usually withdraw them.

To avoid legal action, go to Debt payment or Unable to pay.

Set-off

If you are owed money by any federal government department or agency, the CRA can issue a set-off to redirect the funds, and apply these amounts to your debt.

The CRA can use your federal income, goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) credits or any future income tax refunds to reduce your debt.

Set-offs can be done even if you have a payment arrangement and are making payments. 

Asset liens and seizures

The CRA can get a provincial judgement or a certificate from the Federal Court confirming the amount you owe. This will make your debt a matter of public record and allow the CRA to proceed with asset liens and seizures. The CRA will usually notify you by mail that your debt has been certified in Federal Court. The letter advises you that if you do not resolve your account, the CRA may take further legal action to pay the debt.

Registering a lien on assets

Once the debt is certified, the CRA can register a lien against your assets and property, including your personal residence. Registering a lien will secure the amount of debt owing, by establishing creditor priority in the event of a sale. This means, if you sell your asset, your CRA debt is automatically paid from the proceeds of the sale, before you receive any remaining proceeds.

Seizing and selling your assets

If your debt remains outstanding, the CRA may get a writ or memorial to seize and sell your assets and property. This could include your car, boat, artwork, cottage, rental property, or personal residence.

If the CRA sells your assets, the CRA will use the proceeds to pay:

  • your CRA debt
  • any costs charged by the bailiff hired to sell the assets on behalf of the CRA

You will still have to pay any remaining debt.

Contact the CRA

Make a payment arrangement for CERB issued by Service Canada

  • Call within Canada and the United States.
    Call within Canada and the U.S.
    Telephone number: Hours:
    1-866-864-5823

    Monday to Friday 7 am to 8 pm (ET)

    Closed on public holidays

    Other call options:

    Teletypewriter (TTY) and alternative formats
    Teletypewriter (TTY) and alternative formats
    Telephone number: Hours:
    1-800-665-0354

    Monday to Friday 8 am to 8 pm (local time)

    Closed on public holidays

    You can also request alternate formats and services for persons with disabilities.

  • Call from outside Canada and the United States.

    The CRA accepts collect calls by automated response. Contact your service provider or operator to initiate the collect call.

    Call from outside Canada and the United States.
    Telephone number: Hours:
    613-221-3004

    Monday to Friday 7 am to 8 pm (ET)

    Closed on public holidays

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