European Single Procurement Document (ESPD)

What is the ESPD?

The ESPD (Scotland) is a standard questionnaire that allows buyers to identify suitably qualified and experienced bidders. It contains questions on both exclusion and selection criteria.

Bidders will use their ESPD response to indicate whether their organisation meet the requirements of the procurement exercise. The form is a self-declaration forms and suppliers do not need to provide any evidence upfront unless their are clear reasons for doing so.

When should I use it?

Buyers must issue an ESPD for procurement exercises over the OJEU threshold (Route 3) and it is recommended that it is also used for all route 2 procurements.

The ESPD can be used as part of either a single stage or multi stage procedure. 

Single Stage

A single stage procedure asks bidders to submit all relevant information at the same time.  This will usually take the form of a completed ESPD document, alongside the bidders response to the rest of the procurement documents. 

In this instance it is recommended that the bidders’ ESPD resonponses should  be assessed on a pass/fail basis, as there is no requirement to shortlist.

Multi Stage

In a two stage process bidders will provide the information in two distinct stages.  Firstly the bidder will submit the ESPD for evaluation by the buyer.  All of the exclusion questions and all of the selection questions will be assessed on a pass/fail basis, with the exception the technical and professional ability section is most commonly assessed by scoring responses. 

The technical and professional ability section of the ESPD can include a scoring a weighting methodology which allows the buyer to rank responses and shortlist a number of bidders to invite to tender. The scoring and weighting methodology must be fair, transparent and clearly explained to bidders in the procurement documents.

Buyers should define the scoring and weighting, along with any thresholds in the contract notice.

Quickfire Guide

Quickfire Guide

How can I create an ESPD request?


If you are currently a PCS Tender user you will be able to use the online ESPD (Scotland) template in PCS Tender.

ESPD (Scotland) Module

The ESPD has been built into Public Contracts Scotland as an online module that is available to all users.

ESPD (Scotland) Word Document

Please ensure you always use the document included here in the Procurement Journey to ensure you always use the most up to date version.

What Types of Questions can I ask?

Exclusion Criteria Questions

The exclusion criteria questions are split into two types:

  • Mandatory exclusions: there are 2 exclusion criteria questions which must be included in the ESPD request in all route 2 procurement exercises. These are Criminal Offences and Blacklisting.

The bidder must be excluded from the procurement process if the specified offences have been committed and they have not taken sufficient self-cleansing actions. For further information, pleaser review the exclusion criteria station.

  • Discretionary exclusions: are questions which may be included in the ESPD request.  The bidder may be excluded from the procurement process if they have taken part in certain activities and they have not taken sufficient self-cleansing actions. The activites and any self-cleansing actions should be considered on a case by case basis by the buying organisation.

Whilst there are only two mandatory exclusion criteria questions in the ESPD for route 2 procurement exercises, it is recommended that buyers includes all exclusion criteria questions in their ESPD request.

Futher information can be found on the Exclusion Criteria Page.

What is Self-Cleansing?

In most cases the bidder must be given the opportunity to provide evidence that they have taken sufficient and appropriate remedial action i.e. they have ‘self-cleansed’. If you are satisfied that the provided evidence provided is sufficient to demonstrate reliability, you should not exclude the bidder from the procurement procedure on those grounds

The bidder must satisfy that it has:

  • paid, or undertaken to pay, compensation for any damage caused by the criminal offence or misconduct;
  • provided detailed facts and circumstances by  collaborating with the investigating authorities; and
  • taken appropriate concrete technical, organisational and personnel measures to prevent further criminal offences or misconduct.

When considering any self-cleansing measures, organisations must consider all relevant factors.  This includes the gravity and particular circumstances of the criminal offence or misconduct.

If you believe the bidder’s remedial action  is not sufficient to demonstrate reliability, you must provide the bidder with a statement outlining the reasons for the decision.  The statement of reasons must be provided in writing as soon as is reasonably practicable to allow the bidder to understand why the self-cleansing measures taken are insufficient.

In the case of tax and social security breaches where self-cleansing does not apply, the bidder should not be excluded if they have fufilled their obligations by paying or entered into a biding agreed with the view to paying monies due or the obligation to repay otherwise ceases. 

Selection Criteria Questions

Buyers must only include the selection questions that are relevant and proportionate to their procurement exercise and delete the ones that are not. Therefore, it is unlikely that you will need to ask all of the standard ESPD questions within your ESPD request.
Questions in the ESPD are generic. Therefore,the buyer must supplement the standard ESPD questions with specific criteria or minimum requirements relating to the contract. 
Please note: that no extra questions should be added to the ESPD form.
For more detailed information refer to Exclusion, Selection and Award.

Where do I specify my minimum requirements?

Depending on what format you issue your ESPD request in will influence the way in which you specify the criteria and minimum requirements.

If using PCS-Tender or the ESPD (Scotland) Word Document, you should set out your specific requirements and minimum standards  in the Contract Notice (or the PIN if that is being used as a Call for Competition). 

If using the online ESPD (Scotland) module within PCS, you should include your specific requirements and minimum standards with the corresponding ESPD question.

A set of standardised statements may help you to explain these requirements in a consistent format.

What are standarised statements?

This set of standardised statements has been developed to support you in explaining your selection criteria to bidders. 

Each standardised statement is aligned to a selection question in the ESPD (Scotland). Buyers should select thse statements that are relevant to their procurement exercise and in some instances, you are able to adapt them. The full list of statements can found in the standarised statement document and an example is included below:

ESPD Question Standard Statement tailored to procurement exercise
The bidder should provide its (“general”) yearly turnover for the number of financial years specified in the relevant Contract Notice Bidders will be required to have a minimum “general” yearly turnover of £2m GBP for the last 2 years

Some of the standardised statements, for example those relating to Environmental Management Legislation and Quality Management Proceudres, are very lengthy. Therfore you should review these carefully and ensure that you only select only those parts of the standardised statements that allow you to specify your minimum requirements. You should be careful to ensure that the criteria included is proportionate and not overly onerous on the bidder.

This process will enable you to adopt a standard approach to defining the selection criteria in Contract Notices (and in PINs being used as Calls for Competition).
If using the online ESPD (Scotland) module on PCS there is no need to add the statements in the contract notice, it should be added directly to the module.

More information on where to state information in the Contract Notice can be found on the Contract Notice and Advertising station.

Do bidders need to provide evidence upfront?

As the ESPD is designed to be an inital self-declaration form, bidders are not required to produce supporting documentary evidence upfront.  Evidence maybe requested from the successful bidder (s) at the end of the first stage of a two stage procedure or prior to awarding the contract.

If the bidder is unable to provide this evidence, upon request and without delay, it should not be taken forward to tender stage or be awarded the contract.

Exceptionally, where you have a genuine concern and there is a risk to the effective conduct of the procurement exercise, you may request, at any time, all or part of the supporting documents. Such requests can be made to the bidder or; any subcontractors, consortia members or other bodies whose capability and capacity will be relied on to perform the contract.  

 ESPD Do's and Don'ts


Select only the questions that are relevant to the procurement exercise Add any questions to the ESPD
Set your minimum standards and requirements upfront Set minimum standard too high
Inform bidders of the scoring and weighting in the contract notice and/or procurement documents Use award criteria in the ESPD


What do I need to do if the bidder is relying on other parties?

Where the bidder is relying on other parties to meet the selection criteira, you should request a separate ESPD (Scotland) response from each party bing relied on.

These parties should complete the exclusion criteria section of the ESPD and whichever selection questions, the main bidder is relying on them for.

This should be evaluated along side the main bidders ESPD.

Where a party meets the mandatory grounds for the exclusion,  you must require that the main bidder to replaces them.

Where there are discretionary grounds for the exclusion you may require them to be replaced.  This should be considered on a case by case basis, taking into account the various circumstances of the procurement exercise.

How Do I Shortlist Using the ESPD?

Shortlisting in the ESPD allows a buyer to rank responses and this is mainly done within the Technical and Professional Ability section.  This will allow buyers to determine who should be shortlisted and who should be taken forward into the next stage of the procurement exercise.
How you will ‘shortlist’ bidders must be detailed in the Contract Notice or Prior Information Notice (PIN) (if that is used as a Call for Competition).  This should include weights and scoring, where applied, with an explanation of the scoring methodology.  These criteria must be objective and non-discriminatory.
For more informaton, go to selection criteria.

ESPD in Care and Support Services

In the case of Care and Support Services, the mandatory selection grounds (regulation 8 of Procurement (Scotland) Regulations 2016) must be applied to all procurements. An organisation can also choose to apply the discretionary exclusion grounds and selection criteria and can also choose to use the ESPD (Scotland) for this purpose without amending the questions, and it is a matter of best practice to do so.

Will Brexit Impact the ESPD?

If you have chosen to use the ESPD for your Route 2 procurement, you should continue to apply it in line with the current ESPD regulations as normal and if there are any changes in the future these will be communicated. 

Make sure you are signed up to the Procurement Journey  "Notify Me of Changes" service on the homepage to receive information on future changes to both the EPSD and the wider guidance.

Global Question for all Selection Criteria

Buyers may consider allowing the bidders to answer the global question to confirm they meet ALL selection criteria as specified in the Contract Notice. 

If the buyer chooses to include this global question, they should be confident that by NOT answering any other question on selection criteria there is no risk to the procurement process, the supply of goods, services or works as a result of the bidders response.

If you choose to include this question, then you can also use the questions in Part V, which ask bidders to describe how they meet the shortlisting criteria you have set out in the contract notice.

How do I use Part V of the ESPD?

You may use Part V of the ESPD (Scotland) when using PCS-Tender or the Word version of the ESPD (Scotland) to reduce the number of already qualified candidates who met all the exclusion and selection criteria of the ESPD (Scotland).

  • Part V of the ESPD (Scotland) can only be used for restricted procedures, competitive procedures with  negotiation, competitive dialogue procedures and innovation partnerships. It cannot be used in case of open procedures and competitive procedures without negotiation. Part V may be used if it is proportionate and relevant to the contract and it is specified in the Contract Notice.
  • If you decide to use Part V of the ESPD (Scotland), you need to specify the objective and non-discriminatory criteria or rules to be applied in order to limits the number of candidates that will be invited to tender or to conduct a dialogue. This information, which can be accompanied by requirements concerning the (types of) certificates or forms of documentary evidence, if any, to be produced, is set out in the relevant Contract Notice.
  • The minimum number of bidders that may be indicated by an Organisation is five and in any event the number of candidates invited must be sufficient to ensure genuine competition (note if the number of bidders meeting the selection criteria is fewer than five the procurement can still proceed) indicated by the Organisation, in case of a restricted procedure is five. In a competitive dialogue and negotiated procedure without publication the minimum number of candidates taken forward by the Organisation is three. In any event the number of candidates invited must be sufficient to ensure the genuine competition (note if the number of bidders meeting the selection criteria is fewer than five the procurement can still proceed).

ESPD Financial Ratios

If you are using the online ESPD (Scotland) module on Public Contracts Scotland (PCS) and want to include a financial ratio as part of the ESPD, you will be required to choose from a standard list of available ratios, which were introduced by the European Commission (EC) to enable interoperability between online ESPD services. There are also other financial measurements included in the ESPD module on PCS, such as turnover, that organisations are also able to take into account.

Some users have commented that the EC standard list of ratios does not include some they are familiar with, such as Acid Test Ratio, Gearing and Net Profit Margin. In most part the differences arise from EC terminology/methodology is different to that known by our user,  and in a couple of cases the thoroughness of the EC means they provide two similar but different ratios that in combination provide the same result as that.  

The Scottish Government Accountancy Services consider that the current list of EC financial ratios is valid, and that using a combination of these ratios can provide the same result as using the alternatives suggested by users.. 

The ESPD Financial Ratio document can be found below provides guidance on how to utilise the ratios in the ESPD module on PCS to get the required result.

Please note that the Microsoft Word version and PCS-Tender versions of the ESPD are unaffected by this as organisations can manually enter their required ratios rather than selecting from a drop-down list of pre-populated ratios, as is the case on PCS.

Any documents you need are listed below

ESPD (Scotland) v 1.14

(file type: docx)