Are Electronic Signatures Legal Worldwide?

Before I say yay or nay, or somewhere in between because we’re talking about legal matters and opinions differ wildly, have a coffee and sit down for a good read. E-signature legality is something rather vast and comprehensive in many aspects, as you will see below, so get a good cup (preferably warm), sit down on a comfy chair and try to have a clear mind. Open mind as well, but it’s important we tackle this with a clear mind.

In a short and sweet way – the answer is YES! Electronic signatures are legal worldwide.

Longer answer – still yes, but with a lot of areas to gloss over. Of course, not everything is a simple yes or no.

Regardless of the geographical location where we consider the legality of the electronic signature, it’s important to consider that this is not a necessarily a new technology or something that came up as a result of the disruptive technologies that broke into the market in the past years. Electronic signatures are more than 20 years old when it comes to market acceptance and as a result, we have had some groundbreaking digital efficiency projects throughout the years that have drastically improved business processes. E-sign has immense potential and having this digital platform to sign your contracts, documents and other types of business / personal work.

And in the simplest terms, the advantage is plain to see – you can sign a legally enforceable contract in less than 30 seconds. And it’s valid worldwide!

Now let’s break this down by laws and geographical locations.

  • European Union – EU EIDAS Regulation No. 910/2014

The EU has enacted a groundbreaking regulation called the EIDAS Regulation, Regulation No. 910/2014, active and in full force since July 2016, which regulates to almost every detail the usage, acceptance, types and trusted lists of electronic signatures. According to the regulation, three types of signatures are recognised throughout the Union and none of them can be rejected simply on the basis of being legal. Three types – Standard, Advanced and Qualified – are the core tenets of the European Regulation and are the ones that allow us to conduct business safely, securely and legally.

In other words – electronic is good!

Take an analogy to explain the current law – EIDAS is the GDPR of electronic signatures. It’s directly applicable, you cannot go against it and if you do go against it, you’re passable to receive some serious fines. E-sign in the EU can be used for any type of commercial contract, for some more delicate contracts (bank loans, insurance…) but not for notarised agreements or specialised documents such as wills. But beyond that, you can use it for anything you need.

To make it even clearer, here’s a simple definition of the three types available to you:

  • Standard / Simple Electronic Signatures (SES) – think very basic signatures; your e-mail signature for example is a SES!
  • Advanced Electronic Signature (AES) – uniquely identifying the person behind it, an AES is a SES with the identification of the signer
  • Qualified Electronic Signature (QES) – the ones preferred by rigid internal structures, a QES is a AES with an added qualified certificate from the supplier, attesting the value and the rules that were followed, giving it the legal equivalent of handwritten signature

Should you use a QES for all documents in that case? No, you shouldn’t. You really should not.

In fact, 70-80% of the volume of e-sign in the EU is of a Standard / Simple type, in some ways going even closer to 90% overall. The reason for that is both economic and also procedural. Obtaining a QES can be 4-5 times more expensive and much more time consuming, creating a lack of business validity and business efficiency. You don’t need to pay 100 EUR (not the real price) a signature when your insurance packet is worth 5 EUR to pay for it. The disconnect between the value and the legal security is clearly highlighted here so do take that into account when you consider a future digitalisation package.

For the most part, the efforts of the European Union to standardise electronic signatures has been a successful endeavour, allowing all of the member states to take advantage of the digital single market and to ensure a clear operational way of digitalising both private and public services.

With regards to non-EU countries in geographical proximity to the EU (Balkans, Eastern Europe…), there has been significant effort to standardise national laws in order to conform them as close as possible to European Union EIDAS law. Efforts have been made in Serbia, Moldova and Ukraine to bring their own national laws as close as possible to EIDAS.

EIDAS Regulation

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  • United States – E-Sign ACT 2000

United States has been a pioneer in the field of electronic signatures – not really a surprise here, given that the e-sign industry has been pioneered in the United States. For the most part, United States has some of the most lax requirements for electronic signatures which greatly aids the widespread usage of e-sign throughout the entire business spectrum. Adding to that, DocuSign ( and AdobeSign ( are the premier e-sign companies and they’re both American companies, a testament to the business model within the United States.

And a very favourable, open regulatory framework.

In the US, electronic signatures are governed by the E-Sign Act (Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act) of 2000, a federal law that is applicable in all of the states of the US. The precursor to that, called UETA, along with the E-Sign Act, deem that electronic documents or electronic signatures cannot be denied legal effect or enforceability simply because they are in electronic form.

Just do keep in mind that in the United States even a simple handshake is considered a valid agreement. And that clearly makes it much easier to use electronic signatures when it’s easier to agree on something!

Also – 30th of June has been declared the National E-Sign Day in the United States of America.

United States E-Sign Act –

  • Asia – Japan

Japan has a very interesting procedural way for obtaining a type of signature. In fact, Japanese culture doesn’t really have a signature – what it does have instead is a type of personal seal called a hanko or inkan, which is the equivalent of the Western signature. With the advent of digitalisation we now have e-hankos, which allows Japanese citizens to use their own personal seal in an electronic manner and this effectively replaces the signature portion.

By all means, the e-hanko is a signature. And it is digitalised.

E-hankos are quite interesting also from a digital perspective as they are more of a seal rather than a personal signature, which means that they are also required for companies. Within Europe and USA there is a distinction between signatures and seals; often times seals include a lot more information due to them legally representing a company.

  • Africa Nigeria

According to the Nigerian Evidence Act, which puts forward the requirements for the validity and acceptance of a contract, a signature is not required for a valid contract. However, as it is in many other countries worldwide, enforceability of the said contract can only be done with a signature and the Nigerian law supports most types of electronic signatures.

Similarly, particularly in countries that have common law (Nigeria being one of them), it is important to consider that not all types of documents are allowed to be e-signed.

However, most commercial contracts are definitely accepted!

Whilst this is by no means a comprehensive e-sign legality guide, it’s a very good first step for all business owners & private individuals to go into the topic of electronic signature. And since this is fully legal throughout the world, there’s also plenty of providers of electronic signatures. From DocuSign ( and Adobe Sign ( to ZohoSign (, HelloSign ( and Soda PDF (, there’s plenty of options in the market to suit all requirements and budgets for digitalisation. Do a comprehensive search and choose the platform that suits you best.

Having an electronic signature platform is a strong measure of digitalising a company, driving it in the future digital market and ensuring that you keep up with your customers’ preferences and demands. It’s fully legal, so go ahead and become more efficient!

And save the planet by cutting less trees as well 🙂

Thanks for reading and all the best in your digitalisation journey!

P.S.: This article will be updated regularly, with more countries and with Latin America coming up next, so do check back for more info!


Semnarea Contractelor de Munca – Digital!

In Aprilie 2021, dupa indelungi discutii din partea admninistratiei nationale, locale, grupurilor din Parlament, organizatiilor patronale & alti actori interesati din mediul privat, Guvernul Romaniei a adoptat in final un proiect ce permite semnarea contractelor de munca in mod digitalizat cu semnaturi electronice. Proiectul in sine, initial facut ca si OUG 38/2021, a fost trimis catre Parlament, care eventual l-a adoptat intr-o formula modificata sub forma Legii 208/2021.

Proiectul este o gura de aer binevenita pentru digitalizarea spatiului public deoarece acum permite semnarea contractelor individuale de munca (CIM) cu mai multe tipuri de semnaturi electronice, un pas care nu a fost posibil inainte. In contextul pandemiei, cand o proportie importanta din piata muncii lucreaza de acasa, semnarea la distanta, in mod electronic, a contractelor de munca si a documentelor aferente este un pas important in a usura relatiile de munca, a digitaliza procesele de business si de a flexibiliza modul in care angajatorii si angajatii relationeaza.

Sa ne uitam putin la lege si la cere ea. Conform Legii 208, angajatorii au in acest moment optiunea de a semna contracte de munca cu o semnatura avansata sau calificata, conform Regulamentului European 910/2014, denumit si Regulamentul EIDAS.

Mai exact, ce prevede legea?

  • Semnarea documentelor cu o semnatura avansata (SEA / AES – Semnatura Electronica Avansata / Advanced Electronic Signature) sau cu o semnatura calificata (SEC / QES – Semnatura Electronica Calificata / Qualified Electronic Signature)
  • Atat angajatorul cat si angajatul trebuie sa semneze ori cu avansata ori cu calificata in procesul de semnare
  • Angajatul si angajatorul pot opta pentru incheierea, suspendarea si terminarea unui CIM utilizand semnatura electronica (avansata sau calificata)
  • Semnarea unui CIM se va face ori electronic ori in format fizic, nu se poate face combinat
  • Angajatorul nu poate obliga angajatul sa utilizeze o semnatura electronica – este doar o posibilitate, daca angajatul isi doreste sa semneze olograf, acesta o poate face in temeiul Legii 208/2021

In mare parte, legea simplifica procedeul de semnare a contractelor de munca dar face referire si la fenomenul modern de telemunca, prin articolele urmatoare in lege, dar si catre arhivarea acelor contracte de munca care trebuie arhivate conform Legii 135/2007. (Legea arhivarii electronice)

Exista cateva neclaritati cu legea, mai exact referirea aproape exclusiva catre Regulamentul European 910/2014. Acest detaliu poate crea o confuzie nefericita datorita lacunelor legislative din Romania. Conform legislatiei nationale, Legea 455/2001, semnatura avansata nu exista – exista doar semnatura simpla sau semnatura calificata. Dar, si aici e un mare dar, Legea 455 este o lege care are 20 de ani, o lege veche antica si arhaica, care nu mai face fata necesitatilor digitale. Tocmai de aceea si proiectul de OUG cat si legea finala fac referire aproape exclusiva la Regulamentul European 910/2014, deoarece el contine semnatura avansata si cel mai important detaliu, se aplica direct in legislatia nationala.

Un ultim punct important de mentionat este diferenta dintre o semnatura avansata si calificata. Desi cea calificata este mai cunoscuta publicului larg, si ofera anumite avantaje legale, semnatura calificata este scumpa si necesita identificarea exacta a personei care semneaza – fie prin identificare fata in fata, fie identificare la distanta. Semnatura avansata nu necesita o identificare asa stricta, este destul doar o confirmare cu SMS a semnaturii.

In final, dupa cum multi din industrie vor spune – un pas MARE inainte!

Linkuri importante – baza legala.

Ministerul Muncii –

Legea 208/2021 –

Regulamentul EIDAS 910/2014 –


Semnaturi Electronice – Legalitatea in Romania

Ah, semnaturile electronice. Digitalizare. Lipsa hartiei (in mod voit!) si trecerea la un sistem digitalizat, in special in domeniul public. O utopie in Romania, nu-i asa?

Nu chiar – se poate si in Romania.

O sa incep articolul legat de un subiect “greu”, cu multe dificultati tipice spatiului legal din Romania, cu un raspuns pe care il dau la multi din cei care ma intreaba legat de validitatea unei semnaturi electronice – daca ai imprimat / printat documentul cu o semnatura electronica, poti indoi acel document pe la colturi si il poti arunca in aer pe post de avion de hartie deoarece nu are nici o valoare. 🙂

De ce? Pentru ca o semnatura electronica este valabila doar in format electronic. Digital. Si doar atat.

Ok dar mai clar, ce este o semnatura electronica?

Desi raspunsul tentant ar fi sa ne luam dupa aparitia unei casute cu o semnatura pe documentul digital sau orice alt indicativ, semnatura electronica in sine este un sir de cifre matematice care certifica procesul de semnare. Nu voi intra in prea multe detalii legate de criptografie, dar ideea de baza este legata de conectarea unei chei private (detinute de catre semnatar) cu o cheie publica (valida). Daca cele doua chei au un anumit set de date specifice doar lor atunci semnatura se poate genera. Mai simplu – 2 LEGO-uri care se imbina impreuna si formeaza o semnatura.

Care sunt legile ce guverneaza statutul semnaturilor electronice?

In Romania avem “2 legi si jumatate” – similar cu serialul Two and a Half Men in care avem 2 actori si inca cineva pe langa – deoarece avem o lege nationala, una europeana si un Ordin de Ministru dat ca o completare a legii europene pentru legea nationala. Foarte recent putem adauga si o decizie a ICCJ (Inalta Curte de Casatie si Justitie) ce va avea un efect destul de important asupra reglementarii semnaturilor in Romania.

  • Legea 455/2001 – legea semnaturilor electronice nationala, promulgata dupa Directiva EC 93/1999
  • Regulamentul European 910/2014 EIDAS – regulamentul European ce specifica toate detaliile legate de semnaturi in spatiul EU
  • Ordinul de Ministru 449 din Mai 2017
  • Decizie ICCJ – Decizie ICCJ din Octombrie 2019
  • OUG 38/2020 – OUG dat de catre Guvern pentru reglementarea semnaturilor electronice in relatia cu statul roman

Legea 455/2001 este legea de baza a semnaturilor electronice din Romania, bazata pe Directiva 93 a Comisiei Europene privind semnaturile electronice. Directiva respectiva a stat si la baza Regulamentului EIDAS 910/2014, pe care a inlocuit-o ulterior, si astfel avem un set de 2 legi ce guverneaza reglementarea semnaturilor in Romania. 455/2001 din pacate are aproape 20 de ani de cand a fost implementata, ceea ce duce la numeroase contradictii cu Regulamentul European si implicit multe confuzii si nesiguranta cand vine vine vorba de o claritate asupra reglementarii legale.

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Important de mentionat si retinut in acest caz este faptul ca Regulamentul EIDAS are suprematie asupra legii nationale si astfel orice contradictie cu Legea 455/2001 va fi totdeauna in favoarea Regulamentului European. Ceea ce si logic este binevenit deoarece 455 este din 2001 iar EIDAS este din 2014.

Comparativ intre 455 si 910/2014 (EIDAS), avem cateva puncte cheie care trebuie mentionate pentru a avea o analiza completa asupra cadrului legal, a ce se poate face si a ce nu se poate face, care este viitorul digitalizarii si bineinteles pentru ce putem folosi semnaturile / stampilele electronice. Asadar, ca si termeni comparativi, avem urmatoarele:

  • tipurile de semnaturi electronice difera intre cele doua legi – 455 permite doar o semnatura simpla (de exemplu aceea din e-mail) si o semnatura calificata (aceea pentru ANAF), iar EIDAS permite si o semnatura avansata (un mix intre cele doua) care ofera mult mai multa eficienta pentru companiile ce au nevoie
  • SES / AES / QES – acronimele lor din engleza; SES (semnatura simpla), AES (semnatura avansata) si QES (semnatura calificata – qualified) sunt cele trei tipuri de semnaturi care sunt prevazute in Regulamentul EIDAS si care sunt valabile conform legislatiei – asta inseamna ca sunt valabile si in cadrul legal din Romania, in special dupa publicarea OUG 38/2020.
  • Articolul 25 din EIDASvalabilitatea tuturor tipurilor de semnaturi; Articolul 25 specifica foarte clar valabilitatea semnaturilor electronice de orice tip si faptul ca nu se poate discrimina impotriva lor din cauza ca sunt electronice – mai exact, daca e semnatura valabila, este valabila, chiar daca este standard sau calificata
  • Identificarea la distanta – de multa vreme, identificarea persoanelor la distanta a fost un punct dezbatut intens deoarece Regulamentul permite identificarea la distanta doar cu clarificarea unor puncte tehnice de identificare ce sunt lasate la latitudinea tarilor membre; desi Romania nu a clarificat aceste puncte tehnice, avand doar un comunicat al MCSI cu identificarea la distanta, semnaturile generate prin identificarea la distanta de catre alte tari sunt perfect valabile in Romania; subiectul este inca unul aprig dezbatut dar Comisia Europeana specifica foarte clar valabilitatea semnaturilor
  • Trusted List EU – conform prevederilor EIDAS, fiecare stat membru al Uniunii Europene trebuie sa realizeze o lista cu furnizorii de semnaturi acreditati in tara respectiva; orice furnizor acreditat, in orice tara membra, are automat semnaturile furnizate valabile in orice alta tara membra
  • Tratatele bilaterale ale Romaniei – conform Articolului 42 din Legea 455/2001, orice tratat bilateral al Romaniei confera valabilitate in spatiul si cadrul legal din Romania; astfel, cum tratatul de accedere la Uniunea Europeana este un tratat bilateral, Legea 455/2001 face astfel valabil in mod direct Regulamentul European (pe langa tratatele cu UE)

Pe scurt, atata timp cat furnizorul este acreditat si valabil, semnaturile sunt valabile in Romania. Fara exceptie.

Mentionam mai devreme, pe langa Legea 455 si Regulamentul 910, inca doua detalii – Ordinul de Ministru 449 si Decizia ICCJ din Octombrie 2019. In Mai 2017, un Ordin de Ministru a fost dat catre Ministerul Comunicatiilor pentru a clarifica anumite aspecte ale EIDAS in contextul din Romania.

In plus, OUG 38/2020 clarifica aspectele legate de semnaturile avansate, un pas important in relatia cu statul. Practic OUG-ul confirma importanta tuturor tipurilor de semnaturi si obliga statul roman in a accepta semnaturile electronice.

Pe viitor prevedem o noua lege a semnaturilor electronice, o lege ce a trecut in Octombrie 2019 de Senat. Adoptata in mod tacit, legea este o copie a Regulamentului EIDAS si practic transpune Regulamentul in legislatia din Romania. Nu este tocmai ideal, in special cand acest lucru este interzis de catre Uniunea Europeana, dar vom vedea forma finala cand va fi publicata in Monitorul Oficial. Probabil in 2021.

Trebuie mentionat faptul ca responsabilitatea legata de semnaturi electronice in Romania apartine mai nou de Autoritatea pentru Digitalizarea Romaniei – – care incearca sa grabeasca procesul de digitalizare a administratiei publice.

La final nu am decat un singur detaliu de mentionat – semnaturile electronice sunt ideale si va incurajez sa le folositi cat mai des!

Spor! 🙂

Baza Legala

Legea 455/2001

Regulamentul 910/2014 EIDAS

Ordin de Ministru 449/2017

Decizia ICCJ Octombrie 2019

OUG 38 / 2020

Autoritatea pentru Digitalizarea Romaniei –


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