What is a non-electronic transaction

12 questions about the electronic signature

Our DocuSign consultants travel a lot and are in very close contact with their customers. Due to the new applicable data protection regulations, many entrepreneurs are unclear how the new technology can be used or may be used. What are the advantages of an electronic signature and what does a digital signature look like?

In order to answer the most important questions on the topic, we asked the Internet about the most burning questions about the electronic signature. The most burning Top 12 questions about the electronic signature we have answered for you in the following blog article:

1. Is a digital signature legally binding?

At the beginning the good news: Yes !!

Electronic signatures are legally valid, reliable, and legally enforceable in most industrialized countries. Electronic signatures are regulated by law in the so-called eIDAS regulation. Since 2016, electronic signatures have been uniformly regulated across the EU and are therefore also permitted.

You can find more information about electronic signatures online: eIDAS and the electronic signature

2. When is a digital signature valid?

Due to the eIDAS regulation, electronic signatures are permitted and recognized in Germany as well as in the entire European Union. Also in terms of evidential value, the digital signature is in no way inferior to a manual signature. But on the contrary. Digital technology certainly offers a number of advantages and functions that a manual signature does not have to offer.

In the case of an electronic signature, for example, some important data relating to the signature are recorded in a separate log. Data that provide precise information about the transaction in the event of a question of evidence in court. In addition to name, date and time, the email address and IP address of all those involved are saved in a so-called audit trail. With this information you are well prepared for any taking of evidence.

You can find more about electronic signatures online in our blog article: The compact electronic signature

3. What is the difference between a digital signature and an electronic signature?

The broad category of electronic signatures includes many different types of electronic signatures. The electronic signature is a broad category of different types, including the digital signature. The digital signature is a specific way of implementing the electronic signature.

Both the electronic and the digital signature enable the signature and authentication of the signer. However, there are differences with regard to the purpose, the technical implementation, the geographical use as well as the legal and cultural acceptance of the digital signature compared to the electronic signature.

The digital signature is encrypted using a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). In this way you can assign a signer to a document and protect the signed document.

When should I use digital and when should I use electronic signatures? The answer is here on our blog.

4. What does an electronic signature look like?

The electronic signature consists of data in electronic form and is linked to other electronic data. The advanced electronic signature is an electronic signature that is uniquely assigned to the signatory and enables his or her identification.

You can of course determine and configure how your signature looks in digital form. You can work with templates or digitally recreate your usual manual signature.

5. How can I create a digital signature?

Electronic signature providers like DocuSign offer solutions based on digital signature technology and make it easy to digitally sign documents. They provide a platform to sign and send documents online and work with certification authorities to provide trusted certificates.

Depending on the respective certification body, the provision of additional information may be requested. There may also be restrictions as to who the documents may be sent to for signature or a special order may be required. The DocuSign interface guides you through the process and ensures that you meet these requirements. When you receive a document for signature via email, you must authenticate yourself according to the instructions of the certification authority and then sign the document by filling out an online form.

To create an electronic signature and to electronically sign a document with DocuSign:

Step 1: Register and log in for a free trial account with DocuSign.

Step 2: Choose New> Sign Document and upload the electronic document.

Step 3: Select “Sign” and follow the steps to electronically sign the document.

Would you like to try out the electronic signature yourself for free? You can find a free trial version online here.

6. Is a scanned signature on a contract legally valid?

As long as the legislature does not impose any special formal requirements on those involved, contractual declarations can easily be documented with scanned signatures. This means that the contract or the design declaration (such as a termination) then becomes fully effective as an oral declaration of intent with receipt by the recipient. The scanned signature then only documents that the declaration has been made for evidence purposes.

You can find more information on the subject of legal validity in the guidelines on the legal validity of electronic signatures.

7. Is a copied signature valid?

The electronic signature is just as legally effective as a handwritten signature. A handwritten signature that is scanned and applied to the bottom of a document is considered an electronic signature.

You can find out more about the topic in our blog article: 5 correct or incorrect statements about the electronic signature

8. Is DocuSign legally compliant?

Electronic documents and signatures are legally binding for almost all business and personal transactions across the EU. ... Around 950,000 documents are with DocuSign signed.

For more information, see our blog article: Is the electronic signature permissible in court?

9. When is a qualified electronic signature necessary?

The qualified electronic signature has the same legal validity as handwritten signatures - in certain rare cases it is also the only permitted type of digital signature for certain types of contracts. Worth mentioning in this context are, for example, theConsumer loan contract (Section 492 (1) sentence 1 BGB) and theEmployee leasing contract (Section 12 (1) sentence 1 AÜG).However, if QES is not required by law (which is the case with the vast majority of contracts), the company should weigh up whether a QES is required or a lower signature level can be selected, depending on the business relevance.

For more information, see our blog article: What is a qualified electronic signature?

10. Is DocuSign secure?

DocuSign offers security at bank level, that means: absolute compliance with security standards. Full document encryption. Highly secure access through robust authentication options.

You can find more information online in our blog article: 5 things you need to know when using the electronic signature for the first time

11. How does DocuSign work?

The mathematical algorithm works like a cipher and generates data on the document in question, called a hash, and encrypts the data. The resulting encrypted data is the digital signature. The signature is also provided with a time stamp.

We have made available to you online how a digital signature works in detail.

12. What does DocuSign cost?

DocuSign is available for as little as € 9 per month when you purchase an annual plan. The costs incurred vary depending on the range of functions.

You can find more information about DocuSign products and pricing online.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact our DocuSign sales team. We are happy to help.

Learn more about the legal validity of electronic signatures.