eIDAS: differences between electronic seals and electronic signatures

Posted by Leyre Soto on April 19, 2019 at 9:00 AM


The digital revolution has brought with it the need to create new valid forms of identification for online procedures. In order to guarantee the security of electronic interactions and strengthen confidence in transactions of this type, in 2014 the European Parliament approved the eIDAS Regulation, which establishes the conditions that give legal validity to electronic identification systems, including electronic signatures and seals.

Although both systems are mainly used for the electronic validation of documents, there are certain differences in their use that are established by the eIDAS Regulation.

In this article, we explain the characteristics of each of these identification procedures, as well as the differences in their uses.

This post is also available in Spanish.

What is an electronic signature and what types of signatures exist?

An electronic signature is a digital version of its equivalent on paper, which serves to approve digital documents. Although these signatures do not require an indubitable guarantee of the identity of the signer, the eIDAS Regulation specifies that they must be accepted as evidence in legal proceedings and cannot be denied legal effect.

European legislation distinguishes between electronic signatures, qualified electronic signatures and advanced electronic signatures, and defines them in the following way:

  • The electronic signature simply refers to data in electronic form, which is associated with other data in electronic form and which is used by the signatory to sign. This mechanism does not have to meet other requirements.
  • The advanced electronic signature must be uniquely linked to the signer and allow for their identification. It must also be created using data under the sole control of the person signing and linked to the signed document in such a way that any modification can be detected.
  • A qualified electronic signature is one created using a device that has a qualified certificate, which is an electronic declaration linking the signature to an individual and which has been issued by a trusted service provider. It must meet a number of requirements, including the identification of the name of the person or entity signing the certificate and the period of validity of the certificate.

What are electronic seals?

An electronic seal is a piece of data attached to or associated with an electronic document which guarantees its origin and integrity. Just as electronic signatures attest to the identity of the signer, electronic seals attest to the authenticity of digital documents and, in the same way, have legal validity. There are three types: electronic seal, advanced electronic seal and qualified electronic seal, which approximately correspond to the three categories of signatures described above.


Digital security with complete legal validity

At Signaturit, we develop electronic tools designed to guarantee the legal security of our clients. Our commitment to contributing to online security has led us to work on a project for the development of qualified electronic signatures, qualified electronic time stamps and electronic delivery services, which is also funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. If you want to learn more about how we can help you protect the security of your communications, click here.

This post is also available in Spanish.

EU_FLAGThis project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 778550


Topics: eSignatures

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