After the serious effects of the international crisis of 2008 export activity – as a main form of internationalisation – proved to be an important element of survival and growth for small and medium sized enterprises. Recovery was especially difficult for the so-called peripheral countries, among them the Iberian, Baltic and Visegrád economies, on which this article concentrates. The observed period is between 2008 and 2016. First, a brief theoretical overview is given on SME internationalisation. Second, a literature review focuses on the export enhancing factors based on existing enterprise surveys and studies prepared after the crisis. These show that peripheral area SMEs are already similar to others regarding these stimuli, manager attitude and innovation being the most important ones. Third, statistical data are analysed to assess the significance of SMEs in employment, value added and exports. In this respect, SMEs and their pace of recovery are somewhat different in the three regions but not so distinct from the core countries. Finally, it is shown that in the post-crisis period, two main changes can be perceived: the temporary shift of exports towards non-EU markets and structural rearrangements in exporting enterprises.