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Although there are different options for electronic signatures for both natural and legal persons, each of these signatures has unique characteristics and different levels of security. Using one or another can depend on whether the documents will be signed by Spanish residents or residents of two or more European Union member states.

In this article, we explain the differences between certified electronic signatures, advanced electronic signatures and qualified electronic signatures.

Certified electronic signatures

A certified electronic signature   is regulated under Spanish law by Law 59/2003 on Electronic Signatures, and is valid for legal purposes as an equivalent to a handwritten signature. This signature allows for the identification of the signer and ensures the integrity of the signed document, verifying that it has not undergone any subsequent changes after being signed.

However, in order to provide such a signature, the signer needs to have an electronic DNI (Spanish identity document) or a digital certificate, which must be issued by a certification authority.

Advanced electronic signatures

This electronic signature is designed to be used within the EU. Although its use was already discussed in the Directive 1999/93/EC, the eIDAS Regulation explains it in greater detail. The advanced electronic signature is directly tied to the signer, allowing them to be easily identified. This signature is linked to the signer’s data, which allows for the detection of any change or variation made to the document after signing, ensuring the integrity of both the signature and the document.

In this case, it is not necessary to have an electronic Spanish DNI or a digital certificate. Using this signature is as simple as Signaturit’s electronic signature—it requires no additional tools or devices from either signer.

Qualified signatures

The qualified electronic signature is the main update introduced by eIDAS Regulation. By insisting that the signer meet all requirements listed under eIDAS, this signature type offers greater security assurances. 

The main difference between qualified signatures and advanced electronic signatures is that the former is based on the qualified electronic-signature certificate. Qualified signatures are created using a qualified electronic-signature device that must be issued by a qualified signing authority, transmitting high levels of trust to all parties. Furthermore, it also can be used for all legal purposes—it receives the same validity as a handwritten signature in legal proceedings. Currently, the signer can only create an electronic signature using hardware devices, which imposes some limitations.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that  the objective of the eIDAS Regulation is to create an environment based on trust and security in which both signatures, both advanced and qualified, are mutually recognized by all EU member states. It is therefore recommended to opt for these signatures if carrying out any contractual act between two parties located in different countries within the EU.

Sign documents digitally without having to install any additional applications. 

At Signaturit, we can help you find the best electronic signature solutions for you and your business. Currently, thanks to funding received from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, Signaturit has been able to develop the certified electronic signature, as well as our well-known advanced electronic signature based on biometric data. If you want to learn more about how we can help you improve the efficiency of your company using innovative solutions like these, click here.

EU_FLAG This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 778550