How to sign documents with the eID Card (DNIe)

We all have in our wallet or pocket a powerful tool to sign legally, securely and legaly electronic documents. You only need to take a look at your ID card, you may not be aware of some of the possible uses it offers, so we bring them to you here.

Personal identity recognition has evolved thanks to technological growth in society. In the case of Spain, the ID card was created in 1951, and its use has gradually been made compulsory for people over 14 years of age.

Nowadays, the Identity Card or DNI is valid for many things more than just for verifying our data in front of the Authorities and Administrations. This is due to the implementation of measures such as the e-signatures.

This article aims to address the key aspects of the e-signature in relation to new ID models, as the eID (DNIe in Spanish) and the DNI 3.0.

What is the DNIe (eID)?

The DNIe is a personal identity document issued by the Government of Spain. It represents a step forward in the development of the electronic administration of the country. The eID includes:

  • A chip with personal information on the owner
  • Authentication and e-signature certificates

What information does the DNIe contain?

As previously mentioned, the electronic ID contains in its small chip all the information required for identification and signature of the owner. This data can be broken down into:

  • Personal data.
  • Digitized image of the photo.
  • Digitized image of the handwritten signature.
  • Cryptographic summary of the biometric fingerprint.
  • Authentication and electronic signature certificates.
  • DNI component certificate.

It is important to note that this data is securely encrypted. Furthermore, the chip does not contain any historical data on the person (e.g: health, tax, criminal record, employment status, etc.) that is specially protected by the GDPR.

From the DNIe (eID) to the DNI 3.0

As a consequence of both the evolution of technology and the needs of citizens, since 2015 the DNIe is gradually evolving to the DNI 3.0

How do these two documents differ? The main difference between both DNIe and DNI 3.0 is that the latter supports NFC (Near Field Communication). NFC is based on the wireless exchange of information at a short range (about 20 cm) and is mainly designed for mobile devices.

Thanks to NFC, DNI 3.0 can be used for identification and to sign through mobile apps, as in the case of Viafirma, taking a step forward in the benefits of the DNI, allowing to be used not only for administrative procedures and avoiding the need of a smart card reader, therefore gaining mobility.

Empleados probando la firma con el DNI electrónico

How to sign with the DNIe (eID)?

When we talk about electronic signature through DNIe or the DNI 3.0, we use the term qualified electronic signature. This type of signature offers the highest legal guarantees, with the same level of recognition as the handwritten signature, and defined by eIDAS Regulation as:

‘’A qualified electronic signature is an advanced electronic signature with a qualified digital certificate that has been created by a qualified signature creation device (QSCD)’’.

1.- Complying with the requirements to sign with the DNIe (eID)

First of all, we will have to check whether we meet the minimum technical requirements for hardware and software for its use. In the case of the eID, it will be mandatory to have a smart card reader, which can be integrated into the keyboard or connected to the computer via USB or PCMCIA card.

DNI 3.0 allows the possibility to sign electronically via NFC, in which the device must comply with ISO 14443 Standard regarding e-identification cards, especially proximity cards.

Regarding software, both DNIe and DNI 3.0 are ready to be used in any operating system, such as:

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer (6.0 or later)
  • Mozilla Firefox (1.5 or later)
  • Netscape (4.78 or later)

If we are going to sign using a smart card reader, we will need to have both cryptographic modules (which varies depending on the operating system or browser) and drivers of the reading device.

2.- Sign electronically from the App

In order to sign, we must open the document to be signed via our software solution.

The process for signing step by step will vary depending on the tool we will be using. In the case of Viafirma, this is a very simple and intuitive procedure. Whether using a card reader or NFC, the solution will recognize the certificate as any other in the operating system. You only need to select the certificate and use it.

Generally speaking, you will first need to select the document, which can be viewed prior to signing, to then sign it, which will require the verification PIN of our DNIe or DNI 3.0. This code is provided to us when we receive the PIN and we can change it if we want to.

Therefore, as we can see, getting the most out of the DNIe and DNI 3.0 only requires a few simple steps that can be done from practically any device or operating system.

We must admit that the need to have a card reader or NFC devices can be an obstacle for many citizens, and is one of the reasons for which signing with the DNIe is not fully established in Spain. There are other qualified signature solutions, such as the signature with a certificate installed on the device and, most importantly, remote signatures using the certificate in the cloud, which does not require any specific hardware or peripherals.

In any case, this is a way to gain time, comfort and legal support for all citizens who have access to administrative procedures, as well as the option of signing documents digitally with the help of a specialized software, such as the one offered by Viafirma.