United Kingdom - Country Commercial Guide
Selling to the Public Sector

Describes how major projects are secured and financed. Explains activities of the multilateral development banks in and other aid-funded projects.

Last published date: 2022-09-12

Selling to the Government

The UK began taking part in the WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) in its own right from January 1, 2021 following the European Union-UK transition period, which ended on December 31, 2020.

Electronic versions of the procurement documentation must be available through an internet URL immediately on publication of the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) contract notice.

The UK public sector is currently obliged to undertake electronic invoicing initiatives. In the UK, the 2015 Small Business, Enterprise, and Employment (SBEE) Act was passed.  The legislation included clauses that endorse e-Invoicing as beneficial to the UK economy.

Most UK government departments and public bodies are subject to a range of EU procurement directives and to the GPA, which gives qualified foreign bidders from signatory countries equal access to each other’s public sector contracts.

In the UK, it is mandatory for all public sector organizations to advertise their procurement opportunities worth over £10,000 ($13,000) on Contracts Finder.

U.S. companies bidding on Government tenders may also qualify for U.S. Government advocacy. A unit of the U.S. Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration, the Advocacy Center coordinates U.S. Government interagency advocacy efforts on behalf of U.S. exporters bidding on public sector contracts with international governments and government agencies. The Advocacy Center works closely with our network of the U.S. Commercial Service worldwide and interagency partners to ensure that exporters of U.S. products and services have the best possible chance of winning government contracts. Advocacy assistance can take many forms but often involves the U.S. Embassy or other U.S. Government agencies expressing support for the U.S. bidders directly to the foreign government. Consult Advocacy for Foreign Government Contracts for additional information.

Defense Procurement

The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) publishes information on its future projects and procurements in a biweekly Defence Contracts Bulletin\, which is available to U.S. subscribers online. The European Defence Agency (EDA) also maintains an online database of defense procurement opportunities with governments and leading manufacturers throughout Europe. The EDA Electronic Bulletin Board is available free and without subscription.

However, many U.S. defense companies require more lead-time than these sources provide, and detailed guidance is often needed to understand the procedures and bid evaluation criteria. The U.S. Embassy’s Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) provides insight, guidance, and advocacy in support of U.S. defense contractors competing for sales and cooperative development programs for military equipment and services, including missiles and defense systems, munitions, sensors, ships, aircraft, and helicopters. ODC may be contacted by telephone 011-44-20-7891-3737 or email odclondon@state.gov

Key Link: U.S. Embassy London website ODC information

Digital Market Place- Information Technology (IT)

Digital Marketplace is an online procurement database for IT work, web hosting, work through the cloud, or purchasing datacenter space. Digital Marketplace uses framework agreements to award contracts. There are different framework agreements for different IT services.

G-Cloud: Cloud technology and support

Digital Services: IT specialist work for specific projects

Crown Hosting Data Centers: Work on the physical data center for legacy systems

G-Cloud framework agreements operate slightly differently from other framework agreements. G-Cloud frameworks allow buyers to pay for services as they use them rather than being tied to long-term, inflexible contracts.

Suppliers should apply to the specific frameworks that they want to compete for work in.

Financing of Projects

London is a major source of international project financing. The UK is seen as a safe haven and has attracted substantial amounts of investment for key infrastructure projects. London’s future as a major financial services center will greatly depend on the post-Brexit arrangements the UK is able to negotiate with the EU and other trading partners.

UK importers carefully consider the volume and price of their purchases. Therefore, U.S. exporters should consider offering competitive prices and should coordinate closely with their UK business partners to explore available opportunities to finance trade transactions.

Multilateral Development Banks

London is home to the headquarters of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), an international financial institution whose single largest shareholder is the U.S. Government. The EBRD supports projects from central Europe to central Asia. Investing primarily in private sector clients whose needs cannot be fully met by the market, the EBRD offers debt, equity and local currency financing with tenors not usually obtained from commercial banking sources. The Commercial Service (CS) maintains a presence at the EBRD to represent the interests of U.S. firms.

U.S. Export-Import Bank financing is available to support major capital equipment sales to the UK.

Financing Web Resources

EU Project Financing

U.S. Government International Financing Programs

Exim Bank Country Limitation Schedule


Trade and Development Agency

SBA’s Office of International Trade

USDA Commodity Credit Corporation

U.S. Agency for International Development

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)