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Are electronic signatures legally valid?

Legislative requirements

In today’s world, electronic signatures are increasingly important. They allow you to sign documents without being physically present.

But what about the legal recognition of electronic signatures? Are electronic signatures legally valid? This article looks at the legitimacy of electronic signatures.

The legal requirements for electronic signatures vary from country to country and are governed by specific laws and regulations. In the European Union, eIDAS regulates the use of electronic signatures

Relevant regulations and laws

eIDAS: Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the European market

Meaning of legal validity

The terms legal validity and demonstrability are often mistakenly used as synonyms when in fact they have different meanings.

The legal validity of an electronic signature means that the electronic signature is recognised by legislation and courts and has the same legal value as a traditional written signature. In principle, contracts with an electronic signature are legally valid.

The verifiability of an electronic signature, on the other hand, is about proving that the signature is that of the person concerned. The provability may vary depending on the type of signature. Electronic signatures cannot be rejected as evidence in court.

Types of signatures under eIDAS

Three types of signatures are defined in eIDAS: 

simple, advanced and qualified electronic signatures. All types of signatures are legally valid, but the provability varies.

A simple electronic signature does not need to contain any proof of identity and is therefore hardly provable. Although legally valid, it is not relevant for most business processes.

In the case of an advanced electronic signature, the data captured in the signature allows the signature to be attributed to the signer. This type of signature is most commonly used in practice because it is easy to implement, legally secure and provable.

A qualified electronic signature requires identification before signing. This form takes more time and is therefore usually only used for contracts where a written form is required by law. The written form means that the signature must be on paper or via QES.

TIP: When choosing a signature provider, check which signature types are supported and get advice on which type of signature is relevant to your business processes. Many signature providers only support plain electronic signatures, which are not recommended for important business processes as the signature cannot be proven in the event of a dispute.

In some cases, it also makes sense to use multiple signature types in a document. The inSign electronic signature solution supports both guaranteed and qualified electronic signatures.

Advantages of electronic signature

Using an electronic signature offers a number of advantages. An electronic signature allows you to sign documents quickly and conveniently without being physically present. This saves time and money. Business processes can be digitized and the environment can be protected.

Signature type

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of signature that matches the importance and type of contract. The more important the document, the higher the provability should be.

Data protection

Check that the signature provider meets the data protection requirements of the country concerned. Personal data cannot be transferred to third countries, e.g. the USA, without the explicit consent of the signatory.

Conclusion: electronic signatures are legally valid without limitations

An electronic signature is legally valid and cannot be rejected in court simply because it was created digitally.

In some cases, the signature must meet certain requirements. The requirements are defined by eIDAS in the EU and EEA, ZertES in Switzerland and ESIGN and UETA in the US.

If the law prescribes a written form, a qualified electronic signature is required. In other cases, a guaranteed electronic signature is recommended, which can be provided by all parties very easily and without technical obstacles, and still brings a high level of provability.

The inSign electronic signature solution is legally valid and provable. Guaranteed and qualified electronic signatures according to eIDAS and ZertES are supported.

Vladimír Gašpar


+420 725 646 269

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