We use firm‐level data for the UK and France to assess the role of exporting in the link between financial health and firm survival. We examine whether firms at different stages of export activity (starters, exiters, continuers, switchers) react differently to changes in financial variables. In general, export starters and exiters experience much stronger adverse effects of financial constraints for their survival prospects. By contrast, the exit probability of continuous exporters and export switchers is less negatively affected by financial characteristics. These relationships between exporting, finance and survival are broadly similar in the UK and French samples.