Digitisation is advancing inexorably, and more and more companies are recognizing the benefits of qualified electronic signatures (QES) for accelerated signature processes. Paper-based processes are increasingly seen as slow, unreliable and inefficient.
Yet many companies still sign contracts by hand, forgoing the potential of digital signatures. Or they use digital signature solutions where data sovereignty is compromised and the legal validity of the signature is not guaranteed.
Our guide serves as a comprehensive source of information for all those who value confidentiality and data security and want to gain an overview of the digital signature, especially the qualified electronic signature. Learn how to sign electronically in a legally compliant, convenient and secure way.
The QES is equivalent to a handwritten signature and meets the requirements of Swiss (ZertES) and European (eIDAS) law for digital signatures.
Modern cryptographic procedures and the signature certificate guarantee the integrity of the document and the authenticity of the signatory.
The qualified electronic signature saves you costs for paper, printing, scanning, mailing and logistics.
Save time-consuming trips to the office or to the customer with the qualified electronic signature, because with the QES a contract can be signed regardless of location and time.
All server-side components are operated in ISO-27001-certified infrastructures in Switzerland.
In order for a digital signature to be 100% equivalent to a classic handwritten signature in court in both Switzerland and the EU, the two legal areas require specific requirements. These are fulfilled with eSignR.
In the field of digital signatures, there are often three types of signatures – the simple (EES), the advanced (FES) and the qualified electronic signature (QES). The EES and the FES are not regulated in Swiss law and have no legal significance. Only the QES is regulated by law in Switzerland and therefore has the highest legal effect.
eSignR exclusively uses the qualified electronic signature, which is 100% equivalent to the handwritten signature both in Switzerland and in the EU and thus has the highest probative value.
The EU eIDAS Regulation governs qualified electronic signatures in the EU area. It defines electronic signatures as “data in electronic form which are attached to or logically associated with other electronic data and which are used by the signatory to sign”. To be legally valid, they must:
These requirements are all fully met by eSignR.
In the field of digital signatures, three types of signatures are often mentioned – the simple (EES), the advanced (FES) and the qualified electronic signature (QES). The EES and FES are not regulated in Swiss law and have no legal significance. Only the QES is regulated by law in Switzerland and therefore has the highest legal effect.
eSignR exclusively uses the qualified electronic signature, which is 100% equivalent to the hand signature in Switzerland as well as in the EU and thus carries the maximum probative force.
Before you can use the qualified electronic signature (QES) in accordance with Swiss (ZertES) and European law (eIDAS), you must identify yourself at an official Swisscom Trust Services registration office. In Switzerland, identification must take place on site; in Europe, there is the option of online identification, among others.
In this step-by-step guide, we explain how to successfully add a qualified electronic signature to your PDF:
According to the legal requirements (eIDAS and ZertES), a person must be identified once in order to be subsequently qualified for the qualified electronic signature. To use the QES in your chosen signature application (e.g. eSignR), you are identified via the integrated Smart Registration Service with your preferred identification method for the qualified electronic signature.
Depending on your specific use case or the legal significance of the digital document you need to sign, choose a suitable signature software such as eSignR.
Load your ready-to-sign PDF document into the signature software.
Note: With eSignR we do not use the “signature round” – why? Because a signature round involves uploading confidential PDF documents to a cloud, we have decided against this feature. It may be a convenient feature, but we do not believe that you should give up the confidentiality of your documents for this reason.
Sign your document digitally using 2-factor authentication by conveniently confirming the expression of intent with the Mobile ID on your mobile phone.
E voilà, your document has been legally digitally signed, now save it on your device.
Note: With eSignR, your document has never left your device until this point!
Don’t trust blindly: We recommend that you always check digitally signed PDFs you receive to see whether they comply with the standards for qualified electronic signatures and are therefore legally valid.
For documents that must comply with Swiss law, we recommend that you use the signature validator of the Swiss Confederation. For documents according to EU law, we recommend the signature validator of the Austrian Rundfunk und Telekom Regulierungs-GmbH.
Afraid of the cloud? Not without reason! When foregoing the cloud upload of PDFs, you reduce data protection concerns and ensure compliance requirements are met. eSignR therefore deliberately relies on a local signature solution that ensures the confidentiality of your data. This keeps your confidential PDFs protected and maintains the highest security standards.
The qualified electronic signature (QES) offers the highest level of security compared to the handwritten signature. Here are some reasons why QES is the more secure choice:
The qualified electronic signature uses cryptographic procedures to confirm the identity of the signatory beyond doubt. This ensures that the signature comes from the authorised person and has not been forged. With the handwritten signature, on the other hand, there is a risk of forgery.
The qualified electronic signature guarantees the immutability of the signed document. Any change to the document after it has been signed is detected and the signature becomes invalid. In contrast, handwritten signatures can easily be manipulated or changed afterwards.
The qualified electronic signature enables seamless tracking of all signed documents. Each signature is provided with a time stamp and can be clearly assigned to a specific signatory. This makes it easier to verify authenticity and carry out checks. Handwritten signatures lack this complete traceability. (->Validate digitally signed PDFs)
Electronically stored QES documents can be protected against loss or damage by appropriate security measures. Handwritten documents, on the other hand, can be destroyed by fire, water or other unforeseen events.
Before you decide on the signature type of electronic signatures, it is important to carefully check which documents you want to sign and which legal requirements exist. A qualified electronic signature (QES) offers you the certainty that your signatures will be valid in court in any case.
In the following section, you will find some food for thought that may help you decide whether or not to use a qualified electronic signature:
It is of great importance to carefully consider which documents you want to sign electronically and whether there is a legal necessity. Choosing the wrong type of signature can have negative consequences. With a qualified electronic signature (QES), you can ensure that your signatures are binding and valid in your chosen jurisdiction. You do not have to worry about recognition in court or by authorities. Using a QES gives you the assurance and security you need to successfully complete your electronic documents and transactions.
Check the applicable laws and regulations in your country or relevant jurisdiction, as certain countries have specific requirements for the use of QES.
Example: In Switzerland, only the qualified electronic signature (QES) is enshrined in law. According to the Federal Law on Certification Services in the Field of Electronic Signature (ZertES), it is stipulated that QES must meet certain requirements, such as unique assignment, integrity protection and use of recognised certificates.
A qualified electronic signature (QES) not only offers you legal security, but can also provide a strong emotional argument: Trust. By using a QES, you show your contractual partner that the document to be signed is of high importance to you. The QES underlines your professionalism and credibility as it meets the highest security standards and ensures the integrity of your electronic documents.
Consider the importance of the document and the associated legal consequences. The greater the risk or impact in the event of forgery or manipulation, the more advisable the use of a QES.
Conclusion: In conclusion, we at eSignR have deliberately decided to use the qualified electronic signature (QES) exclusively. In this way, we minimise potential risks and errors and ensure that our customers’ electronic signatures are legally binding and valid in every case. Our signature software thus offers an uncomplicated solution that meets the highest security standards. With QES, we ensure trust and avoid legal uncertainties.
If you are unsure, we recommend that you seek advice from a expert or legal advisor to be sure. Our dedicated support team is always available to help you with any questions you may have.