In Florida (as well as many states):
- If an engineer produces a drawing that is not a final plan, it needs to be sealed and stated as such. Releasing unsealed plans violates 61G15-23.001 as highlighted below.
- If the drawings an engineer produces are final plans, they need to be signed and sealed (as in the red text below).
- If they are not final plans, an engineer can still seal them, but they need a disclaimer as in (7) below
EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 61G15-23
SEALS [Updated 9/18]
From Florida Administrative Code 61G15-23.001 Seal, Signature and Date Shall Be Affixed [portion that applies to Engineering Express]:
(1) A professional engineer shall sign, date and seal:
(a) All final plans, prints, specifications, reports, or other documents prepared or issued by the licensee and being filed for public record;
(b) All final documents provided to the owner or the owner’s representative.
(2) Additional Final and Non-Final Documents.
(a) A professional engineer may sign, date and seal documents required by any public entity or any provision of contract which requires the signing, dating and sealing of additional original documents.
(b) A professional engineer shall not sign, date and seal any documents which are not final documents unless the professional engineer states any limitations on the use of those documents on the face of those documents by using terms such as “Preliminary,” “For Review Only,” “Not for Construction,” or any other suitable statement which denotes that the documents are for limited use, are not final and are not intended for permit, construction, or bidding purposes.
(4) Additional Requirements for Plans or Prints, Engineering Specifications and Calculations, and Engineering Reports or Other Documents. When an engineer signs, dates and seals any of the following types of documents plans or prints under the provisions of Section 471.025, F.S., and subsection (1) of this rule, the following additional information must be included:
(a) Plans and Prints. Every sheet within the plans and prints must be signed, dated and sealed by the professional engineer in responsible charge.
- A title block shall be used on each sheet of plans or prints and shall contain the printed name, address, and license number of the engineer who has signed, dated and sealed the plans or prints.
- If the engineer signing, dating and sealing engineering plans or prints is practicing through a duly authorized engineering business; the title block shall contain the printed name, address and certificate of authorization number of the engineering business.
[Editor’s note: It is important to understand that a physical sealed plan expires when the code change passes relative to the permit application date. Plans may have a seal several years old for many reasons but only getting around to permitting later. In that case, so long as the listed building code is still in effect at the time of permit, it is technically valid unless a revised set has been issued. This is not the case with digital seals that may expire on a given date past the seal date which must be listed as a limitation of use].
(b) Engineering Specifications and Calculations. An index sheet shall be used and shall be signed, dated and sealed by each professional engineer who is in responsible charge of any portion of the engineering
specifications or calculations.
- The index sheet must be signed, dated and sealed by those professional engineers in responsible charge of the production and preparation of each section of the engineering specifications or calculations, with sufficient information on the index sheet so that the user will be aware of each portion of the specifications or calculations for which each professional engineer is responsible.
- The index sheet shall include at a minimum:
- The printed name, address and license number of each engineer in responsible charge of the production of any portion of the calculations or specifications.
- If the engineer signing, dating and sealing calculations or specifications is practicing through a duly authorized engineering business; the printed name, address and certificate of authorization number of the engineering business.
- Identification of the project, by address or by lot number, block number, section or subdivision and city or county.
- Identification of the applicable building code and chapter(s) and Florida Fire Prevention Code, when applicable, that the design is intended to meet.
- Identification of any computer program used for engineering the specifications or calculations.
(c) Engineering Reports or Other Documents.
- A signature page or cover letter shall be used and shall be signed, dated and sealed by each professional engineer who is in responsible charge of any portion of the report with sufficient information provided so that the user will be aware of each portion for which each professional engineer is responsible.
- If the engineer signing, dating and sealing an engineering report or other document is practicing through a duly authorized engineering business, the printed name, address and certificate of authorization number of the engineering business shall be placed on the signature page or cover letter.
(d) The date that the signature and seal is affixed as provided herein shall be entered on said plans, prints, specification, reports or other documents immediately adjacent to the signature of the professional engineer.
Rulemaking Authority 471.008, 471.025 FS. Law Implemented 471.025, 471.033(1)(a), (e), (j) FS. History–New 1-8-80, Amended 6-23-80, Formerly 21H-23.01, 21H-23.001, Amended 4-1-97, 2-5-04, 8-8-05, 11-16-09, 2-2-12, 11-3-15, 10-26-16.
Procedures for Digitally Signing and Sealing Electronically Transmitted Plans, Specifications, Reports or Other Documents shall follow the procedures set forth in Rule 61G15-23.004, F.A.C.
61G15-23.004 Procedures for Digitally Signing and Sealing Electronically Transmitted Plans, Specifications, Reports or Other Documents.
(1) Engineering plans, specifications, reports or other documents which must be signed, dated and sealed in accordance with the provisions of section 471.025, F.S., and rule 61G15-23.001, F.A.C., may be signed digitally as provided herein by the professional engineer in responsible charge. As used herein, the terms “certification authority,” and “digital signature” shall have the meanings ascribed to them in sections 668.003(2) and (3), F.S.
(2) A professional engineer utilizing a digital signature to electronically sign and seal engineering plans, specifications, reports or other documents shall have their identity authenticated by a certification authority and shall assure that the digital signature is:
(a) Unique to the person using it;
(b) Capable of verification;
(c) Under the sole control of the person using it; and,
(d) Linked to a document in such a manner that the digital signature and correspondingly the document is invalidated if any data in the document is changed.
(3) The affixing of a digital signature to engineering plans, specifications, reports or other documents as provided herein shall constitute the signing and sealing of such items.
(a) A digitally created seal as set forth in rule 61G15-23.002, F.A.C., may be placed where it would appear if the item were being physically signed, dated and sealed.
(b) The date that the digital signature was placed into the document must appear on the document in accordance with subsection 61G15-23.001(4), F.A.C., and where it would appear if the item were being physically signed, dated and sealed.
(c) The engineering plans, specifications, reports or other documents being digitally signed and sealed shall include text to indicate the following and place it where an original signature would appear if the item were being physically signed, dated and sealed:
- The same information required by subsection 61G15-23.002(2), F.A.C., if a digitally created image of the seal is not use;
- The item has been digitally signed and sealed; and,
- Printed copies of this document are not considered signed and sealed and all signatures must be verified on any electronic copies.Rulemaking Authority 471.025(1), 471.033(2), 471.008 FS. Law Implemented 471.025, 471.033(1)(j), 668.003, 668.006 FS. History–New 11-3-15, Amended 9-7-17, 6-19-18.
Last on this topic – there is a caveat to this rule –
Florida Product Approvals and Miami Dade NOA’s don’t have to be ‘re-sealed’ once they are sealed, submitted, and approved by the evaluating entity since they already ‘passed through the gate’ and have been verified. Copies of these documents are to be accepted by building departments (click here for governing rules) and shall be compared to the original online for these entities. This is permitted because of the certifications granted to these and other similar evaluating entities (such as ICC, IAMPMO, UL, TDI, etc).
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Last Update: March 31, 2021