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E-bonding Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

General Questions:

Q:   What is an E-bond?

A:   An E-bond is an encrypted file which provides the recipient with a secured and verifiable document (typically in PDF format) which is protected by security features.

Q:   Is a scanned paper bond an E-bond?

A:   No. A scanned bond is a “picture” of a paper bond, which can easily be opened in a photo editing type of software that can then be potentially altered or changed. A scan of a paper bond may not be considered a legal document as it would not follow the industry's guidelines.

Q:   How do I know if I have received a proper E-bond?

A:   A proper E-bond must meet the following three threshold criteria:

  1. Integrity of Content
    The assurances that the document received is the true document executed and the content has not been changed or altered.

  2. Secure Access
    Restricting the access to the document to those authorized to view and/or download it.

  3. Verifiability / Enforceability
    Assurances that the document was duly executed by the parties identified and that it is enforceable in law.

E-bonds typically contain a digital signature, a digital corporate seal and a verification tag or link to check that the bond document has not been altered.

See samples below:

Sample – Proper E-bond


Sample – Scanned bond (not a proper E-bond)



Q:   Can only Bid Bonds be created as an E-bond?

A:   No. All the current software solution program providers that are listed on the SAC website (under Assessments) have the capability of creating Bid Bonds AND final Performance and Labour & Material Payment Bonds. 

Q:   What are the benefits of using an E-bond instead of a paper bond?

A:   There are numerous benefits for all parties – Owner (Obligee); Contractor (Principal); Surety Broker/Surety – which would generally include the following:

  • Saves time 
    • No couriers are required to deliver documents to meet tender deadlines.
    • After the initial set-up (Surety Brokers and Contractors), E-bonds are created and can be sent in a timely manner either by email or for uploading to a tendering platform (i.e. MERX, bids&tenders, etc.).
  • Saves cost 
    • In terms of hands-on person hours, less time is required to produce an E-bond compared to producing a paper bond.
    • There is no cost, whatsoever, to the Owner (Obligee).
    • Flexible pricing and service offerings are available for Surety Brokers and their clients (Principals/Contractors).

  • It is green and paperless 
    • The process is entirely digital, no printing is required.
  • It is easy 
    • Each software solution program provider offers a comprehensive overview of their system for Surety Brokers and their clients (Principals/Contractors).
    • Registration for Surety Brokers and their clients (Principals/Contractors) is a simple process.
    • Upon request, Owners can also be provided with an overview of the process for accepting E-bonds from any of the software solution program providers.

Q:   Does a corporate seal need to be applied to an E-bond?

A:   Unlike normal contract documents, bonds are defined as deeds, hence, the courts have defined deeds (and thus bonds) as requiring to be:

  • signed;
  • sealed; and
  • delivered in original copy.

In all Canadian provinces, except for the province of Quebec, an encrypted/secure/verifiable E-bond which includes a digital signature and corporate seal should follow the same guidelines as noted above.

For more details in this regard refer to the following:

Surety Broker Questions:

Q:   I am a Surety Broker, how do I obtain an E-bond for my client?

A:   There are several commercially available software programs capable of creating reliable and enforceable electronic bonds (E-bonds) that meet the criteria of the Surety Association of Canada.

SAC has reviewed and assessed e-bonding systems and copies of these assessments are available for review and download HERE.

It is recommended that Surety Brokers directly contact either of these software program providers to obtain more information.

Q:   Is there a cost for our brokerage to access and use one of these E-bond software providers?

A:   Each software program provider determines their pricing and service offering, some offer flat fees, others offer pay-as-you-go pricing, etc. Our recommendation is to contact each provider directly to obtain more information to find the right solution for your needs and requirements.

Q:   Do the software program providers only produce contract bonds?

A:   No. Each software program provider’s system has the capability of creating commercial AND contract E-bonds. Once a Surety Broker has set-up an account and registered for access to the system, they will be able to create both commercial and contract surety E-bonds.

Q:   Who’s corporate seal do I place on the E-bond?

A:   Each Broker would be required to obtain Power of Attorney/Electronic Power of Attorney (e-POA) from a Surety in order to apply a seal on the Surety's behalf.

Most, if not all, Canadian Sureties already have their corporate seals loaded and available in each of the software program provider's systems.

Once a Broker registers and is granted access to the system, and have received confirmation from the Surety of the assignment of the e-POA, they can then use the corporate seal on any E-bonds that they create.

Q:   If our client (Contractor/Principal) has been unsuccessful with their bid, how would an E-bid bond be released or returned?

A:   An Owner (Obligee) will advise a Contractor (Principal) that their bid submission was unsuccessful, however, in the E-bonding world an E-bid Bond may not get returned, so instead of waiting for the validity period to pass (i.e. 30, 60, 90 days, etc.), Brokers should suggest to their clients to contact them to advise that the tender was unsuccessful.

Once the Broker is made aware of the unsuccessful bid, they will relay the same message to the Surety so that whatever room that particular tender took up on a Contractor’s surety bond line can be freed up.

Obligee (Owner) Questions:

Q:     I am a public owner and would like to explore implementing the process to accept E-bonds, what steps should I take?

A:     It is important to note that the process to accept E-bonds is rather seamless. E-bonds can either be uploaded to existing tendering platforms (i.e. MERX, bids&tenders, etc.) or can be sent via email as an encrypted/secure PDF.

The first step would be to contact a software solution program provider to discuss your requirements.

Q:      Do E-bonds expire?

E-bonds are electronically verifiable for the life of the document, however, the definition of ‘life of the document’ would be defined in the specifications for bonding as outlined in the tender/project contract. 

It is important to note, however, that the software solution program providers are not document storage facilities, so it would be the responsibility of the Owner to store and secure any E-bonds submitted or sent to them.

Q:     What type of details should we include in our tender documents regarding the acceptance of E-bonds?

A:     SAC has created a document that provides recommended language for owners to request/allow Electronic Bid Bonds (E-bonds). To download this resource for reference, CLICK HERE.

Q:     How do I know if the E-bond is a proper E-bond?

A:     See Q&A under “General Questions” above.

Principal (Contractor) Questions:

Q:     How do I obtain an E-bond for a tender that I am submitting a bid for?

A:     If you currently do not have a Broker or a relationship with a Surety, the first step would be to contact a Broker near you. CLICK HERE to access our on-line member Broker directory.

For contract surety bonds, generally, a business plan of your operations, references and financial statements would be required to be prequalified to obtain a surety bond (paper or E-bond). A Surety Broker can help guide you through the bonding process and will assist you in establishing a business relationship with a Surety company.

If you currently have a Broker and an existing relationship with a Surety, your Broker should be able to assist you in obtaining an E-bond. If, however, they are not currently set-up to produce E-bonds, please contact us at surety [at] suretycanada.com to let us know so we can reach out to them in this regard.

Q:     How is an E-bond submitted to a tender?

A:      After the E-bond is digitally signed and a corporate seal has been added, it would simply be submitted based on the prescribed tender requirement, for example: emailed directly to the Owner (Obligee) or uploaded to an appropriate electronic tendering system (MERX, bids&tenders, etc.).

Note that the E-bond must be submitted as its own file and cannot be tampered or merged with any other files otherwise the Owner (recipient) will not be able to validate the E-bond.

Q:     How do I obtain a digital signature or corporate seal?

A:     Depending on the software program provider, some have the capability to produce digital signatures and/or seals directly in the tool, while others will refer you to a 3rd party platform (i.e. Presto Direct, Notarius, etc.) which creates a file that can be uploaded and affixed to the E-bond.

For any additional questions not listed above, please feel free to CONTACT US.