Tender Response – How Long do I Have to Submit a bid?

1st July 2019

Tender Response – How Long do I Have?

Last updated: Jan 18, 2022 @ 3:06 pm

The Public Contract Regulations 2015 are the driving force for all UK public tendering opportunities and drive the standard practices in the world of tendering. This includes setting minimum amounts of time to allow tenderers to create their responses.

It is also widely accepted that by having sufficient time to prepare tender responses, the client can encourage a competitive marketplace and ensure every company responding is on an equal footing.

How long is sufficient?

Under the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) Guidelines, there is a set minimum of 35 days from publishing the tender to response deadline dates. Additional to this, if the client has to change the tender documentation in the middle of the tender process, they are required to give an additional 15 days for tenderers to take these changes into account.

Further to this and prior to the tender stage, a procuring entity may also publish a prior information notice (PIN) on the Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) portal. The aim of the PIN is to provide potential contractors with information in advance about future procurement.

Normally the PIN is published between 35 days to 12 months prior to the publication of the contract notice.

What this means, is that when a tender is published following a prior information notice, the time limit to submit tenders can be reduced.

It is worth remembering that OJEU rules state that ‘adequate’ time is given to allow tender responses. This is meant to create a safeguard for all parties, but it can sometimes mean that ‘adequate’ time isn’t enough – for example, if the tender is complex.

Tender Timescales

In the UK, the Public Contract Regulations (PCR) 2015 sets out the following timescales for tender responses. These depend on the procedure being used.

Open Procedure:

Normally 35 calendar days, however, this can be reduced to 30 days if tender responses are submitted electronically.

However, if a Prior Information Notice (PIN) has been published, the tender window can be reduced to 15 calendar days.

Accelerated Open Procedure:

15 calendar days. This may seem like a short timescale; however, the client must notify all interested parties for the reason of this when publishing the tender documents.

Restricted Procedures, including Competitive Procedures with Negotiation

These are split into two stages. At Stage 1 there is a timescale of 30 days for a PQQ stage (find out more about PQQs) or the buyer can substitute this stage for a PIN as previously described.

Stage 2 is normally 30 days. This can be reduced to 25 if the tender is submitted electronically, or 10 days if a PIN has been published previously.

Accelerated Restricted Procedure

This procedure has the following timescales:

Stage 1 has a timescale of 15 days. Again the client must notify all interested parties the reason for this within the tender documentation. Stage 2 has a timescale of 10 days.

Innovation Partnership

Under the PCR2015, this procurement is available to use when “an innovative product, service or works that cannot be met by (those) … already available on the market”. This is a two-stage process with the following timescales.

Stage 1 requires 30 days. Stage 2 can be 30 days or 25 days for electronic submissions. Alternatively, tender responses can be submitted in 10 days if a PIN was issued instead of a full Stage 1.

For Innovation Partnership procurement, clients can agree individual timescales with the buyers to as little as 10 days.

Accelerated Innovation Partnership

As above, this procedure has the following timescales:

Stage 1 has a timescale of 15 days. Again the client must notify all interested parties the reason for this within the tender documentation. Stage 2 has a timescale of 10 days.

Competitive Dialogue

At stage 1, a timescale of 30 calendar days is set. For subsequent stages, there are no explicit rules. However, the client must be transparent and fair to all parties.

Win / Win

Providing plenty of time to allow companies to tender brings benefits to all.

It gives companies of all sizes sufficient time to respond, and that makes the contract open to as many tendering businesses as possible. It also ensures the client can get the best deal possible, and that makes good business sense.

Not all Buyers are the same… 

Recent research across the UK has shown how there is not just one set timescale the government uses for its public procurement. Each department sets their own deadline dates and in 2018 these range from the shortest being 18 days (by the Department for Transport) up to 33 days (by the Ministry of Defence).

Recent History 

The results of recent research into UK central government response times led to the following findings:

  • On average in 2018, central government clients gave only 26 calendar days (that’s 15 working days) to complete a response. That’s a full nine-days short of the 35 day EU Guidelines.
  • In fact, central government haven’t met the EU threshold in any quarter dating back to 2015.
  • Since 2015 there is a trend of central government decreasing the time available for bidders to submit tender responses. In 2016 the average was 28 days. The average of 26 days for 2018 breaks down into a 7% decrease between 2016 and 2018.


Whilst the Government seems to be on a worrying trend, shortening tender response times available for bids; there are other considerations to remember

UK Central Government procurement is one of the most transparent processes available compared to other client groups both across Great Britain and internationally.  This means that tendering will be easier to complete, with simple routes for clarifying any ambiguities, clear buyer requirements and supported tendering processes. 

So what can you do?

Do not fear these shortened timescales, you can still create a strong tender response in 26 days. There are several things you can do to make sure you submit your bid on time. Check out our Hudson blog on doing just that! How to Ensure you Submit on Time.

The team at Hudson have several ways we can manage the tender response timescale. We can work with you to break the opportunity down and make sure you fully understand the tender requirements. We will shred the specification and create a detailed bid plan to guide the creation of the tender response and we have a range of services to support your tender response submission.

Before you begin your tender response, you should consider the following:

  • How long have you been trading for?

It is common for buyers to ask to see at least two years’ worth of accounts when tendering for work. Although this is not always the case with smaller contracts, sometimes strong case studies can be used instead. In our experience, three years of trading is a strong base to start tendering for work.

  • The minimum economic financial standing

When applying for bids and tenders, your economic financial standing will be assessed. This will be determined by the following:

  • Annual turnover
  • Financial ratios
  • Insurance[s]


  • Do you have the necessary experience?

Bids and tenders will require you to include up to three case studies of past contracts you have delivered. These must be similar and scope and complexity as the one you’re bidding for. They should be within the last three to five years. A buyer wants to see that you have delivered past contracts successfully and that you’re reliable.

  • Can you fulfil the contract?

Before you start writing your response to a bid, you should first ask yourself if you can fulfil the contract. You should read the specification carefully. There may be certain qualifications or accreditations you need in order to be eligible. Once you’ve established that you meet all the criteria, think again. Do you have the resources to actually deliver the contract? Are there multiple locations? Do you have enough staff? These are all things you need to consider before progressing with your bid response.

Top tips to help you with your tender response

Writing a high-quality tender response is crucial. As mentioned above, even if the weighting on quality is less than cost, buyers care about the quality. You want to be persuasive when bidding for a contract. You want to convince the buyer that you are the best business for the job. You should consider:

  • Format

Clearly format your response with subheadings and bullet points. Often you will be able to break down the question and use these as subheadings. This can help ensure that you are covering and answering every aspect of the question asked. Bullet points can also help keep your response ordered. This will help you get in the buyer’s good books. Put yourself in their shoes. If you’re having to evaluate tens to hundreds of bid responses, you’ll favour those that are clearly laid out. This helps you outshine your competitors as opposed to submitting a chunk of text.

  • Assumptions

Furthermore, don’t allow the buyer to make assumptions from what you’ve written. Leaving room for assumptions can allow for the wrong assumptions to be made. Clearly explain everything and avoid overly technical jargon. Don’t assume they know anything about you, your business or your bid.

  • Word count

When writing your tender response, you should aim for it to be as close to the word/character/page counts as possible. They’re there for a reason. If a buyer expects a 1000-word response, simply writing one paragraph won’t do. Keep answers relevant, clear and concise.


If you feel you need some support with Bid Management to help submit your tender on time. Or if you need more information about tender response processes or how to write winning bids, contact our Bid Writing Consultants for specialist advice.

Our Bid Writers can help you when tendering for contracts. They can give you more information about the tendering process in general.

Find more helpful tips and advice in our blogs. We cover topics including:

Our services

Tender Writing

Once you’ve found the perfect bid for your business, send it our way. Our Bid Writers can take care of the whole thing for you they’ll even submit it on your behalf. They’ll let you know what they need from you, providing you with a full Tender Writing breakdown.

Tender Ready

Our Tender Ready 4-week programme is perfect for businesses that have never tendered before. A Bid Writer will work with you to ensure you have everything in place to tender successfully. They can also help you better understand the tendering process. Tender Ready offers your business:

  • A 12-month subscription to one Hudson Discover.
  • Access to Global Bid Directors and Senior Bidding Professionals.
  • An Organisation-wide Bid library, including 3 case studies, 5 CVs and policies.
  • Additional flexible benefits.

Tender Improvement

If you’ve been tendering but aren’t seeing success from your current efforts, our Tender Improvement package can help. Our Bid Team will assess your previous responses and tender documents. They will work with you to improve for future submissions. This package includes a 12-month subscription to a Hudson Discover portal and additional tendering development services.

Tender Mentor

If you’ve written your own tender response and need it double-checked for errors, Tender Mentor can help. A Bid Writer will proofread your work for any inconsistencies, grammar or spelling mistakes. They will also ensure it’s in line with the specification before you submit. This can help you formulate a winning submission.

Additional support

If you only need assistance with PQQs or SQs we can help. Send the information over to us and we can provide you with a quote for the work involved.

Discover Elite

Upgrading to Discover Elite can help optimise your tendering efforts – even when you’re busy. Our two new time-saving tools can improve your competitor awareness and success rate when bidding for a contract.

The Ultimate Time Saver package offers your business:

  • A maximum of five tender breakdowns per month.
  • An annual subscription to a maximum of two Hudson Discover sector-specific portals. This option can help businesses that overlap two industries such as Healthcare and Technology, for example.
  • Pre-market and award engagement notices monitored on your behalf.
  • Buyer portal management, including registration, password management, downloading documents and assessing viability based on your bid or no-bid strategy.
  • Weekly phone calls with your dedicated Account Manager to discuss viable tendering opportunities.

The Become a Pre-Bid Master package also includes:

  • All of the above.
  • Up to seven tender breakdowns per month.
  • Bid Strategy delivered by a Senior Bid Manager with a minimum of 5 years of experience. It will also be managed by our Global Bid Director.

Contact us to find out how we can help your business grow.

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