The basics of selling to the Government of Canada
Get an overview of our procurement process from start to finish.
On this page
- Who is responsible for government purchases
- Understand the phases of the procurement process
- Learn about key government programs and initiatives
- Search tenders to find opportunities and learn what the government buys
- Search for opportunities and resources by good or service
- Register to become a supplier
- Get pre-qualified to sell
- Learn how to prepare a bid
- Learn who was awarded a tender
- Get a supplier debriefing on your bid
- Learn about dispute resolution services and resources
- Sell to other Canadian and foreign governments
- Find events and news
- Get more help with procurement
Who is responsible for government purchases
Public Services and Procurement Canada is the department responsible for the vast majority of the buying the government does on behalf of other departments. This department supports purchases of everything from staplers, to temporary help services to ships to buildings.
Public Services and Procurement Canada also works with other departments to support effective, open and transparent processes that provide value for Canadians. Most of the processes on these pages describe Public Services and Procurement Canada's processes.
However, certain types of purchases are managed by other departments where they have the expertise. Shared Services Canada for example is the department responsible for many large software purchases, printers, computers and more.
Also, all departments have the discretion to purchase goods and services themselves under certain dollar limits. These limits vary between $25,000 to $100,000 dollars, depending upon the good or service. You can find information on these low dollar value purchases in the proactive disclosure pages for each Government of Canada department.
Understand the phases of the procurement process
There are two methods of supply:
- a competitive process, which involves using standing offers, supply arrangements or contracts to pre-qualify suppliers
- a non-competitive process, using a sole source contract
Depending on the dollar value of the contract and the applicable trade agreements, the procurement may need to be publicly advertised as a competitive process usually via the tendering service.
Contract opportunities for goods over $25,000, services over $84,000 and construction over $100,000 must be advertised via the tendering service. Opportunities under these amounts may be contracted through a sole source contract at the discretion of departments and agencies.
We source competitive procurements through an advertised notice, a source list, standing offers or supply arrangements.
When bids are submitted, we evaluate the bid based on the pre-determined methodology that was outlined in the tender notice.
Following this evaluation, the winning proposal is selected and Public Services and Procurement Canada awards the contract and notify the public using the same tendering service to issue an award notice.
Note: Learn more about the procurement policies that govern how we buy.
Find the four phases of Public Services and Procurement Canada procurements.
1. Pre-contractual phase
Includes activities related to requirement definition and preliminary procurement planning up to issuance of bid solicitation.
2. Contracting phase
Includes all activities from issuance of bid solicitation to contract award and debriefing.
3. Contract administration phase
Includes activities such as progress monitoring, delivery follow-up, payment action, monitoring, exercise optional periods/quantity, etc.
4. Post-contractual phase
Includes final action and file closeout.
Learn about key government programs and initiatives
We are committed to fostering innovation and diversity, supporting aboriginal and small and medium enterprises, and encouraging green practices in all our procurement activities.
The following programs and initiatives supporting socio-economic benefits provide great opportunities for small businesses and innovators, with social and environmental benefits for all Canadians:
- Procurement strategy for aboriginal business
- Build in Canada Innovation Program
- Green procurement
- Supporting businesses
Search tenders to find opportunities and learn what the government buys
To find opportunities on the tendering service related to your industry, use clear and simple keywords to search our active tenders. Use filters on the search-results page to refine your search for: goods, services, type of tender notice, location etc.. You can also search by goods and services Information number.
You can also use our open procurement data to search tenders, find opportunities and learn who is interested in what you supply, as well as the related evaluation criteria.
In areas where there are large or specific requirements, suppliers may use subcontractors. Learn how to find partners by searching awards and contracts or prequalified firms with standing offers and supply arrangements.
Find publicly tendered opportunities
Most opportunities are published on the tendering service. Learn about the different types of tender notices used to solicit bids or information:
- Request for proposal:
- Used for complex requirements, containing both financial and technical criteria
- Advance contract award notice:
- Used to inform businesses about a sole source, non-competed contract
- Invitation to tender:
- Used commonly in real property and construction and awarded to the lowest bid
- Letter of interest or request for information:
- Used to garner interest and gather information and feedback that may shape future requirements
- Request for standing offer:
- Used to pre-qualify suppliers to provide goods and services when required, at firm prices
- Request for supply arrangement:
- Used to pre-qualified suppliers to provide goods and services when required, at prices that are not fixed
Find low-dollar opportunities and promote yourself
To find contract opportunities not publicly advertised, search contract history to find Public Services and Procurement Canada contracts in your industry above $10,000 going back to 2009, or search government contracts for each department and agency to find information about past contracts valued over $10,000.
You can use this information to learn which departments are buying in your industry or find contacts to promote your goods or services and to learn about their department's procurement plans.
Use goods and service numbers to search
We use Goods and Services Identification Numbers (GSIN) to classify what we buy and connect all our procurement data. You can also use them to simplify searching through codes related to your industry. Use them to find tenders you can bid on.
Note: The United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC) will replace Goods and Service Identification Numbers in 2017.
Receive email notifications for new tenders or amendments
It is your responsibility to keep track of any amendments to an opportunity that you would like to bid on. Consider using a web feed to stay up-to-date. You can also use it to be notified of new opportunities based on your custom-refined search, whenever they are published.
Search for opportunities and resources by good or service
We don't advertise all procurement opportunities using the tendering service. For many services and some goods, there are unique opportunities not available through tenders.
Procurements that are not subject to trade agreement thresholds or departmental policies may be sourced using other methods of supply. For some goods and services, there are also separate processes, registrations and resources. Search for the good or service you're selling to learn more.
Share your interest in a tender
Add your name to a list of interested suppliers to express an interest in a particular active tender notice. The list of interested suppliers is available on each active tender notice and can provide insight into potential partners.
Register to become a supplier
To register you need a business number from Canada Revenue Agency. You can then register in the Supplier Registration Information system to get a procurement business number. This will be your unique identifier to sell to the federal government.
Note: If you are an Aboriginal business you also want to be included in the Aboriginal Business Directory.
Get pre-qualified to sell
One of the best ways to sell to us on a regular basis is to get prequalified through a standing offer or supply arrangement. These agreements outline the terms and conditions that will apply to future requirements for goods and services to be ordered on an as-needed basis.
Get on a standing offer
A standing offer is a list of suppliers who are pre-qualified to provide goods or services at firm prices, when and if required. They are used when clearly defined goods or services allow firm pricing. No contract exists until we issue the order known as a call-up.
Search for standing offers and supply arrangements related to your industry to find out who is pre-qualified and until when.
You can also search active requests for standing offers and save your search as a web feed to get updated when new requests become published.
Get on a supply arrangement
A supply arrangement is a method of supply in which a pool of pre-qualified suppliers is established to provide goods or services with certain terms and conditions pre-defined. We use this pool of pre-qualified suppliers to solicit bids for a specific requirement.
Search for standing offers and supply arrangements related to your industry to find out who is pre-qualified and for how long.
Learn how to prepare a bid
Every tender is unique, as are the bid requirements, so you should understand the general steps to prepare a bid:
- Review the solicitation document: Learn to ask the right questions, understand the security requirements, and learn about mandatory and point-rated evaluation criteria and the types of selection methods
- Decide whether to bid: Understand if you can meet the requirements, whether you are eligible to supply, and if you can accept the terms and conditions and basis of payment
- Collect information and follow the tender: Get your security clearance through the contracting authority, prepare your certifications, and sign up for a web feed to follow the tender to stay on top of any amendments
- Prepare your bid: Make it easy for buyers to evaluate your bid and learn more about the technical, management and financial sections
- Submit your bid: Remember to submit on time, with the right number of copies and signatures and follow all instructions
Learn who was awarded a tender
We will publish an award notice using the tendering service to announce the successful bidder.
Search award notices related to your industry.
Get a supplier debriefing on your bid
Following the award of a contract from a competitive process, you will have an opportunity to request supplier debriefing on your bid. It is important to know when an award is issued against a tender to ensure that you meet the deadline to request feedback.
Whether or not you were successful, feedback can help you improve your bid submissions skills and your chances of winning other submissions.
Learn about dispute resolution services and resources
If you have any concerns about the procurement process, your first step is to try to resolve the issue with your contracting authority. If the matter can't be resolved with your contracting authority, then you can explore a variety of other dispute resolution services and resources.
These services include resources to resolve the issue yourself, alternative dispute resolution services, and complaint bodies, such as the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman.
Sell to other Canadian and foreign governments
We have recently begun sharing our procurement tools, such as standing offers and supply arrangements, with Canadian provinces, territories and municipalities to help provide best value for Canadian taxpayers. If you are pre-qualified for one these tools, you can find opportunities to sell to other governments in Canada.
Find more information to sell to other Canadian and foreign governments.
Find events and news
Stay informed on events and news related to procurement. You'll find information on changes to policies and practices, as well as information on our regular learning events on everything from supports for small and medium enterprises to how to submit a bid.
Get more help with procurement
Important: Please direct any questions about a specific tender opportunity to the contracting authority identified in the tender solicitation documents. Consult the following for additional information:
- Call the Public Services and Procurement Canada procurement Infoline at 1-800-811-1148, Monday to Friday, 7:30 am to 5 pm Eastern Time, to get quick help to sell to the Government of Canada
- Visit our contacts for procurement page to connect with the right people to provide you with answers to your questions, information about free seminars and support for general procurement questions
- Date modified: