Electronic Signatures Legality: Detailed Guide
Electronic signatures legality is still the subject of debate for many business owners. They are willing to do all the paperwork, going through scanning, printing, editing, reprinting, and waiting for USPS deliveries, just to make sure the document is legal. Taking into consideration the pandemic, more and more users try electronic services. An online signature tool is one of them.
What Is an Electronic Signature
An electronic signature is not a new tool in business. The legal electronic signature is an alternative for the wet-signature you put on official papers. Consider it the good old-fashioned pen and paper mark on documents, except for a laptop or any other electronic device instead of a pen and paper. Each electronic signature is unique, similar to the classic one. They are used for the signer’s identification and confirmation of agreement with everything said in the document.
Unfortunately, not all countries have the same electronic signature law. Luckily, the US recognizes that eSignature is equal to the standard pen-and-paper signature. The validity of electronic signatures is protected and confirmed by the ESIGN and UETA Acts in the USA. Both of them provide the same position to the eSignature.
eSignatures have the same weight as the classic one in countries and in such parts of the world as:
- New Zealand;
- The USA;
If you need to notarize documents in the US, you can use eNotaries services that verify documents in no time. You will receive a digital certificate by your email.
There are different types of eSignatures. You can scrawl the electronic document with a finger, use the stylus, download the image of the signature, or just type the name. You don’t have to use a laptop; you may perform all these procedures via the app on your mobile phone.
eSignature is not a digital signature, and you have to learn the difference. Sometimes, users do not distinguish them. However, the digital signature, also called cryptographic, is the type of eSignature that is encrypted and coded to provide better security to the signer and the document. No one can fake your electronic legal sign if it is encrypted.
Usually, business owners prefer to use this type of signature when it comes to important documents. This way, you don’t have to worry about fraud.
Are eSignatures Legitimate
The first thing that concerns users: are electronic signatures legal? According to the ESIGN and UETA acts in the USA, these signatures are equal to classic standard pen-and-paper ones. They have the same quality and legal power.
So, the answer to the question "are digital signatures valid" is yes, they are. If it is confirmed by eNotary, it has more power.
You may need to put your handwritten signature only in specific cases:
- Testamentary trusts, codicils, wills, which must be signed in the presence of several witnesses;
- In Family law, it is divorce and adoption;
- Court documents like court orders;
- Utility service cancellation notice;
- Rental notice of the primary living residence;
- Cancellation of life and health insurance notice;
- Recall notice;
- Hazardous materials transportation documents.
All these documents are usually signed in the presence of public notaries or witnesses. Sometimes, you need to put an eNotary signature via the mobile app if you want to provide confirmation of the document’s validity. It is similar to the certificate you receive from a notary in the office. Tax forms can be signed by eSignature. You don’t have to leave the house during the pandemic to send the papers to the classic post office. If you work with foreigners, you have to find out the laws related to eSignatures in their countries.
Security of Using Electronic Signature
What makes an electronic signature legal, apart from the support of the government, is its unique pattern and high-security level. Despite the fact that many people prefer to avoid putting too much personal data on the Internet, this place is not that scary. Security measures that modern programs use developed together with these programs. They are advanced, smart, and react to multiple dangers on the Internet. Nowadays, businesses prefer to keep their documentations in clouds, encrypted, and always one tap away from using.
Electronic signatures may be secured not only by specific algorithms, but users can also protect their interests by creating keys themselves. No one will be able to get your signature with the proper security level. The signers of the agreement can’t fake their identities as well if you are using the proper eSignature tools. Every file you share with other people is secured. Electronic documents are usually encrypted, and only you and your business partners have the right keys to them.
How to Make Electronic Signatures
You may create an electronic signature in several ways. It depends on the features you want to receive from this program and the type of the document you want to sign. No matter which program you choose, you have multiple options:
- You can draw a signature with a stylus or finger. Use the touchscreen. This version of signature is the most suitable for tablets or mobile phones;
- Take a picture of your signature and upload it into the document. You may use the phone camera for this. After the signature is uploaded, you can save it inside the eSignature program you use and add it to any document you want;
- Draw a signature with a cursor. If you use a mouse or a touchpad on your laptop, you have to drag the cursor to create the signature;
- Type your initials with the keyboard. This is the simplest way to create your eSignature. You can even use a font that is the most suitable for the signature.
Here are some most popular questions and the answers to them. Read them before you start using eSignature.
Yes, they are. Electronic signatures are valid around the States and have the same legal status as persona handwritten signatures on the paper. It is regulated by UETA and ESIGN acts and supported by state laws. Washington, New York, and Illinois have their own laws, but they are consistent with the UETA act.
All the states have adopted the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act or UETA. And while Illinois, Washington, and New York still have their own legislation when it comes to electronic signature, it matches perfectly to the common law. Every US state allows electronic signature and recognizes it as legal.
According to the laws in North America, the contract that is signed electronically has a legal effect. The document signed with eSignature is considered to be valid. Soft copies that are also signed electronically keep the validity as well.