An electronic signature is similar to a handwritten signature. But, just like the name suggests, it comes in electronic form. It is used to sign documents using electronic devices.
Types of documents that can be electronically signed include:
When talking about electronic signatures, we often mean digitized signatures (scanned signatures). But there is also a legal aspect of it. To comply with the existing e-signature-related regulations, an electronic signature should:
- Match your personal signature
- Identify you as a signer
- Be verifiable
- Be associated with a particular document
- Be associated with the data in the original document that you’ve signed (meaning that others cannot tamper with the data after the document has been signed by you)
- Prove your intent (meaning that the document was signed with your consent)
There are different legal requirements for electronic signatures depending on the jurisdiction that applies to you. For example, the US regulations (UETA) are not that strict. To cut to the chase, electronic signatures and documents signed electronically should not be denied validity or legal effect.
In the EU, according to the eIDAS regulation, electronic signatures are used along with the handwritten ones. However, in legal proceedings, only advanced electronic signatures are recognized as valid. And only qualified electronic signatures have the highest level of validity (they are legally equal to handwritten signatures).
eIDAS distinguishes between three types of e-signatures by the level of security:
While simple electronic signatures can be used in day-to-day business, advanced electronic signatures are required for legal matters. Here’s what makes an e-signature advanced:
- It can uniquely identify the signer.
- Signature creation data is in the sole control of the signer.
- It should be automatically invalidated if the original data contained in the document was modified after signing the document.
via Red Hat
An advanced e-signature becomes qualified when it is:
- created using a “qualified electronic signature creation device”
- and based on a qualified digital certificate for electronic signatures
So, instead of scanning your signature and inserting it as an image into a document, it’s better to use an electronic signature app. This way, your signature will appear valid and trusted. Here are some software tools to choose from: