Qualified electronic signature

Are you wondering what a qualified electronic signature is? Also known as qualified signature, according to the current law it has the same legal validity as the one made with a pen on paper. Although later we will see that at a business level it is the most complex to use.

What is qualified electronic signature?

The recognized electronic signature is the one that has the highest level of legal guarantee and security according to the European eIDAS regulation. It has presumption of legal validity, being legally equivalent to the handwritten signature; being considered as valid evidence before any court.

To obtain a qualified electronic signature, the signature must be made with a qualified or recognized signature certificate and using a secure signature creation device (QSCD), such as a cryptographic card or a cryptographic USB or HSM.

Different signature levels

According to Law 59/2003 on Electronic Signature, there are three types of electronic signature, which are defined as follows:

  • Simple: It is the set of data in electronic form, consigned together or associated with others, which can be used as a means of identification of the signatory. It is an element of proof admissible in court, although it may have to be complemented with other elements.
  • Advanced: It is uniquely linked to the signatory, allowing its identification. It has been created using electronic signature creation data that the user can use with a high level of confidence and under his exclusive control. It is linked to the data signed by it so that any subsequent modification of the data is detectable. It ensures the identity of the person signing and the integrity of the data, so it offers more legal guarantees than the previous one.
  • Qualified: An advanced electronic signature based on a qualified certificate, generated by means of a secure signature creation device and enjoying the highest possible level of security.

Is the qualified signature equivalent to a handwritten signature in any member state?

As we have explained before, the recognized electronic signature is the only one that has full equivalence with the handwritten one. It has several defined legal effects that apply to any member state of the European territory, since the eIDAS Regulation helps to standardize the systems for electronic interactions throughout Europe, creating a single digital market.

Secure recognized electronic signature for cell phones

SPOILER: Viafirma supports any of the different signature levels, but recommends the use of the advanced electronic signature since it is easier to use and also offers full legal validity in case of rejection.

Is it advisable to use the qualified electronic signature constantly?

Being the option that offers the maximum legal validity, using the qualified electronic signature is highly recommended for those relevant contracts that help protect your company, although it is true that at the corporate level it is not the most functional and operational alternative. To address this problem, there are versatile solutions beyond the qualified signature, which are simpler and more intuitive for the user and also offer full legal guarantees in case of repudiation.

These secure alternatives are achieved through the use of Viafirma’s advanced electronic signatures. The signature through OTP/SMS, the qualified digital certificate, the possibility of demanding the signers their location, a photograph of the ID card or a video recording allows us to reach very high levels of security and legality; giving full legal validity to the process but without losing sight of the functionality and ease in the processes and offering, logically, an excellent user experience.


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