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Export: Tender offers and everything you need to know about them

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International tenders and invitations to submit a bid

A tender is a standardized request. In most cases, a form must be filled out or there is a template to which the provider must adhere. Offers without obligation are - legally non-binding - invitations to submit an offer.

A special form of export offer exists in the case of an international tender. Here, the tender is characterized by two requirements: Form constraint and deadline constraint. For the customer, the advantage lies in the fact that the same requirements are given for all suppliers and that the product offered meets his expectations in all respects.

In a tender, there is a specific date by which the offer must be received by the customer. This is referred to as a "closing date". Late bids are not considered. Until they are opened, the bids remain in sealed envelopes and are usually opened and evaluated by a committee, sometimes in the presence of the bidders.

The documents for most international tenders are available for purchase. They are sometimes very extensive and are called "specifications". They prescribe all the details that the exporter must take into account in his bid. The bids are usually only considered against the issue of a bid bond. This amounts to around 3% of the order value and is intended to prevent the bidder from withdrawing from his offer without consideration.

Offer subject to confirmation

You often come across offers that are declared as "subject to change" or "non-binding". From a legal point of view, however, these are not offers at all, but invitations to submit offers. This means that the sender of an "offer" that is subject to change - to which he or she expressly does not want to be bound - wants to induce the recipient to make an offer, which may or may not be accepted.

What is the purpose of such a procedure? The seller, who invites several recipients to submit offers, can choose the most favorable among the offers received and reject the others.

There are also other invitations to bid such as:

  • Offers that are missing essential parts. 
  • Offers that are not addressed to a specific person.
  • Transmission of brochures, catalogs, price lists, etc.