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COVID-19 Loan Scheme (now closed)

The COVID-19 Loan Scheme (CLS) together with the Brexit Impact Loan Scheme (BILS) will make up to €330 million in lending available to eligible SMEs.

The CLS will provide for loans with terms of one to six years. This scheme is available to eligible businesses in Ireland, including those in the primary agriculture (farmers) and seafood sectors to respond to the impacts of COVID-19. Finance provided under the scheme is competitively priced and offered at favourable terms.

Loans range from €25,000 to €1.5 million per eligible business, with loans up to €500,000 available unsecured.

The COVID-19 Loan Scheme is supported by a guarantee through the European Guarantee Fund (EGF), which is being implemented by the European Investment Fund (EIF) on behalf of the European Commission. The scheme is operated by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) through participating lenders.

Eligibility criteria

This scheme is available to COVID-19 impacted eligible SMEs and small mid-cap businesses, including those in the primary agriculture (farming) and seafood (fishing) sectors in Ireland, to support them as they respond to the impacts of the pandemic.

Application process

The COVID-19 Loan Scheme features a two-stage application process:

  1. Applications for eligibility under the scheme will be made through the SBCI website. The SBCI will assess the applications and those successful will be issued an eligibility reference number.
  2. Apply for a loan under the scheme with one of the participating finance providers using the eligibility reference number.

Eligibility reference number

Once issued, an eligibility reference number is active for six months. However, in order to manage demand for the scheme, applicants are encouraged to apply for loans as soon as practicable in the context of their business needs.

Loan features

Loans under the scheme:

  • range from €25,000 to €1.5 million
  • are available for terms of one to six years
  • are available without security where the loan amount is less than €500,000
  • typically feature a lower interest rate than other comparable lending in the market

Loan purposes supported

Loans can be used for:

  • liquidity/working capital
  • investment
  • refinancing of 30% of new loans to cover refinancing of existing short-term credit, for example, as arising due to COVID-19 impacts

State agency clients and non-clients

This scheme is open to all businesses that meet the eligibility criteria. Therefore, both State agency clients and businesses that are not in any way engaged with State agencies are encouraged to apply. State agencies include Enterprise Ireland, the Local Enterprise Office (LEOs) and Bord Bia for example.

Sectoral availability

The scheme is open to eligible SMEs and small mid-caps across almost all sectors, including those engaged in farming and fishing. There are a small number of excluded sectors/activities, and these are described on the SBCI website.

Participating finance providers 

This scheme will feature a range of bank and non-bank lenders. Full details of the finance providers currently accepting applications are available through the SBCI website.  

State Aid 

Loans under this Scheme are subject to State Aid rules analogous to the terms of the State Aid Temporary Framework introduced in response to COVID-19.

More information on the State Aid Temporary Framework (PDF, 255KB)

Loan applications declined under the scheme

Loans under the scheme are subject to the credit policies and procedures of the participating finance providers.

In the event that an applicant business has made a formal loan application to one of the participating finance providers and has been refused, the applicant may wish to make an appeal to the finance provider. If this internal appeal is unsuccessful, then an appeal may be made to the Credit Review Office (where the lender is a participating bank).

Alternatively, an applicant business may choose to pursue an application for lending with another participating lender. If so, the business may use the same eligibility reference number to apply with the second lender.

Data protection

The Data Protection Notice for the scheme is available here: Loan Schemes: Data Protection Statements

Scheme duration

This scheme is now closed to applications as of 31 December 2022. Details on status of schemes can be found at SBCI.

Scheme progress reports

COVID-19 Loan Scheme Quarterly Report 30 September 2022