We use a comprehensive firm level data set to assess the role of firm heterogeneity in the link between financial health and firm survival. The data are for the UK and France, two countries with different financial systems. First, we investigate the importance of firm heterogeneity for the finance - survival nexus. In particular, the question is whether firms at different stages of export activity (starters, continuers, exiters) react differently to changes in financial variables. Second, we use our data to conduct a cross country comparison. As concerns firm heterogeneity, we find signicant differences in the association between financial variables and survival depending on whether a firm is an export starter, exiter or continuer, compared to firms that never export. We also find that the relationship between finance and survival differs in the British and French sub-samples. The most important difference relates to firms that are continuous exporters, which may be due to differences in terms of firm-level characteristics and financial institutions.