Last edited 02 Jan 2021


A bondsman is a professional agent (possibly acting for an insurance company), agency or corporation who takes responsibility for another person’s obligations by signing a bond to that effect.

In its widest meaning, bondsmen act as surety, pledging money and property as bail for defendants in court. Defendants will typically have been charged with crimes and be awaiting trial. The bondsman’s role is to try to have them released. Such defendants can expect to pay the bondsman around 10% of the bond amount. However, a bondsman may revoke the bond and surrender their client to prison if they suspect that they are about to flee. A bondsman’s offices will typically be located close to a court or prison. They usually advertise their services online and in local telephone directories. Some may even hand out their calling cards in court. The profession of bondsman is almost exclusive to the US. Several organisations there, including the American Bar Association, oppose the practice of bond dealing, claiming it does not benefit public safety and discriminates against the poor.

Such a bondsman may also be known as a bondsperson, bail bondsman, bail bondsperson, bail bond agent or bond dealer.

In the construction industry, bonds are typically a means of protection against the non-performance of a contractor. They are an undertaking by a bondsman or surety to make a payment to the client in the event of non-performance. The cost of the bond is usually borne by the contractor, although this is likely to be reflected in the contractor's tender price.

The choice of bondsman and terms with regard to cost falls entirely to the contractor who secures it prior to the start of work.

The bond is related to the contract conditions and the courts take a view that the bondsman has little protection against adverse risk. So it is wise to seek the bondsman's consent before acting outside the contract conditions, for example by paying the contractors in advance of work undertaken to ease its cash flow difficulties. Such conduct could jeopardise a subsequent claim on the bond.

For more information see: Bonds and Performance bonds.

See also: Surety (or Guarantor).

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