All the things you didn’t know about your electronic signature

1. What is the legal coverage of electronically signed documents?

Documents signed with a qualified electronic signature have the same legal value as handwritten paper documents.

More details about the legal effects of the electronic signature can be found in art. 25 of the eIDAS Regulation on electronic identification and trust services.

2. What types of electronic documents can I sign electronically?

Any type of electronic document regardless of format (pdf, word, excel, ppt) can be signed electronically: from contracts, tax invoices, tax returns, reports and balance sheets to digital photos. The most common format for electronically signed documents is * .pdf.

3. Why do companies choose to use the qualified signature?

Companies choose to use the qualified signature because it is equivalent to the handwritten signature, is safer, faster, more efficient and brings cost reductions.

The companies understood that a large part of the delays in the decision-making process are caused by signing on paper internal and external documents in relation to suppliers, customers, collaborators, authorities, etc. All these “papers” incur a number of costs, and by using a qualified electronic signature, the time required for signing can be reduced by as much as 99%, and the costs by 40%.

4. How secure is the qualified signature compared to the handwritten one?

The qualified signature is more secure than the handwritten one for several reasons:

  • Firstly, because the electronically signed document with a qualified electronic signature is impossible to falsify. When you sign with a qualified certificate, you know for sure who the signing person is, the qualified signature being the only one that has legal value by default and that can be verified.
  • Secondly, it is more secure due to the fact that the handwritten signature can be imitated and thus falsified. A handwritten signature can only be assumed to belong to a person, because in reality, in very few situations do you have a signature specimen with which you can compare it and the graphological knowledge to do so.

5. Are there more types of electronic signature?

Yes, there are 3 types of signature:

  • The electronic signature has a low level of trust. It can be represented by the contact data entered in the signature in the e-mail, the biometric signature (made on a tablet). With this type of signature you can sign electronic documents with a low level of risk;
  • The advanced electronic signature has a medium level of trust. It can be used to sign electronic documents with a medium level of risk (for example, inside the company you can sign requests for leave, returns or forms).
  • The qualified electronic signature, based on a qualified digital certificate, offers the highest level of trust. It is an advanced signature, created with a qualified electronic signature creation device and using a qualified certificate. It is issued in accordance with the European Regulation eIDAS 910/2014, recognized in all Member States and is issued by a qualified trust service provider.

The qualified electronic signature may be used for signing high-risk documents, such as credit agreements, commercial or service contracts, employment contracts and additions thereto, representation mandates, mediation contracts, tax invoices, medical documents or documents in the relationship of individuals and companies with public authorities.

The qualified electronic signature has, according to the legislation, the default value of a handwritten signature. For the other types of signatures, technical expertise must be performed whenever their legal value needs to be demonstrated.

6. How do I verify an electronically signed document?

There are three options:

  • certSIGN has a service for validating PDF documents made available free of charge to customers, currently available at https://rsspro.certsign.ro/vsa.clientservice_01/;
  • Documents that have the .p7s / .p7m extension can be verified using clickSIGN – for those who have an electronic signature from certSIGN, which is installed automatically when the token kit is installed, or with the shellSAFE Verify application – for those who have not installed the signature kit;
  • Electronically signed PDF documents are automatically verified using the Adobe Reader application.

A qualified signature appears in Adobe Acrobat Reader as valid (green check mark) and contains information about checking it against the European Trusted List. Easy-to-verify graphics are displayed to convey confidence to users:

  • green check mark and the text “Signed and all signatures are valid”;
  • the source of the information used to validate the signature is indicated: “Source of Trust obtained from the European Union Trusted Lists (EUTL)” (trust in the signature is given by the European Union secure lists);
  • the European Union’s trusted mark (the blue padlock with the EU flag) and the identification of the electronic signature as qualified.

7. Is it necessary to sign each page of the document with a qualified electronic signature?

Unlike the paper signature, with the qualified electronic signature it is no longer necessary to sign each page. The technology used to create qualified electronic signatures is called public key cryptography and allows you to detect when an electronically signed document has been modified, regardless of the page on which the signature is located.

8. How to keep an electronically signed document in the long run?

An electronically signed document can be printed, but the paper obtained has no legal value. Therefore, the electronically signed document is kept, in the long run, also in electronic form. In Romania there is even a law on electronic archiving of documents, Law 135/2007.

9. Where is the electronic signature already used?

In recent years, you have been accustomed to using the electronic signature at ANAF, CNAS, ONRC, SICAP, CSSP, CNVM and ITM.

The qualified electronic signature can be used in relation to most public institutions, for issuing tax certificates, town planning certificates, etc.

In the private sector it already has an extremely wide use in the relationship with partners, clients, etc. It is used successfully in the process of digital transformation of the HR departments of companies, where absolutely all specific documents are signed: employment contracts, annexes, applications, etc.

Due to the flexibility and interoperability, the qualified electronic signature integrates with the applications and programs already installed in the company (ERP, DM, etc.). What we want to tell you is that your qualified electronic signature is in fact a working tool that can bring you great benefits in your daily activity, in addition to the need to use it in relation to public institutions.

10. Are documents signed with a qualified electronic signature recognized in court?

The qualified signature has the same legal value as the handwritten signature, according to Regulation 910/2014. Any document you have signed with a qualified signature is accepted like any other handwritten signed document.

11. Can the employment contract be signed electronically?

The employment contract can be signed electronically using the qualified electronic signature just like any other contract for which the written form is necessary for validity (ad validitatem).

The written condition is fulfilled both if the contract is drawn up and signed on paper and electronically using the qualified electronic signature. The qualified signature has the equivalent legal effect of a handwritten signature.

12. Can I sign ANAF declarations, electronic invoices or any other documents with the same signature?

Yes, a single qualified certificate stored on a cryptographic device or in the cloud allows you to sign any type of document.

13. If I lose the token, can anyone sign in my place?

No, because in order to be able to sign electronically, you need a token and its PIN code.

14. Can I also sign contracts electronically?

The qualified digital certificate allows the signing of any type of electronic document, including contracts. Electronically signed, the documents have the same legal value as the handwritten ones.

15. Why would I temporarily time stamp documents?

The qualified time stamp provides indisputable proof that the document existed in some form at a given time, in which case this must be demonstrated.

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