The Florida Board of Professional Engineers has approved an emergency rule temporarily expanding the use of electronically or digitally signed and sealed engineering plans and documents to include printed copies.

In order to effectuate the Governor and State Health Officer’s orders regarding self-quarantine to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the emergency rule temporarily waives the restriction in Chapter 61G15-23, Florida Administrative Code, that printed copies of digitally or electronically signed and sealed plans or documents are not considered signed and sealed.

During the 90-day period that the emergency rule is in effect, printed copies of digitally or electronically signed and sealed plans/documents would be deemed as properly signed and sealed for any purpose, as if physically signed and sealed.

Professional Engineers must continue to abide by all of the rules regarding signing and sealing, and should apply the emergency rule only when and where appropriate.

While FBPE’s rules apply only to Professional Engineers, it encourages building officials to temporarily accept the printed engineering documents as part of their efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The emergency rule was approved during a special meeting of the Board on Tuesday, April 14, 2020, and filed with the Florida Department of State on Wednesday, April 15, 2020. The emergency rule will remain in effect through Tuesday, July 14, 2020.

The emergency rule:

61G15ER20-4 Printed Copies of Digitally or Electronically Signed and Sealed Plans Considered Valid.

During the effective period of this rule, comprising ninety (90) days from the effective date, the restriction contained in Rules 61G15-23.004(3)(c)3. and 61G15-23.005(4)(c)3., F.A.C., that printed copies of digitally or electronically signed and sealed plans or documents is removed, and printed copies of said plans or documents are deemed validly signed and sealed for any purpose allowed by law. After the expiration of this emergency rule, the restriction is re-imposed. Any licensee seeking to use printed copies of digitally or electronically signed and sealed plans or documents must retain an original copy of the signed and sealed plans.

Rulemaking Authority: 471.008, 471.025, 471.033(2), FS. Law Implemented:471.025, 471.033(1)(a), (e), (j), 668.003, 668.006, FS. History—New.

If you have questions, please email board@fbpe.org.