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How to sign documents with the eID Card (DNIe)

It is now possible to sign digital documents with an electronic ID card in a simple, secure and legal way. It is possible that you were unaware of this function of your ID card and that is why we tell you all the keys so that you can start to take advantage of these benefits.

The recognition of personal identity has evolved hand in hand with the technological growth of society. In the case of Spain, the DNI was introduced in 1951, and its use gradually became compulsory for those over 14 years of age.

Nowadays, the National Identity Document or ID Card is used for much more than confirming our data in person before the authorities and administrations. This is thanks to the incorporation of measures such as electronic signatures.

With this article we intend to deal with the keys of the electronic signature related to the new DNI models, such as the electronic ID (eID) and the ID 3.0.

What is electronic ID?

The electronic ID card is a personal identification document issued by the Spanish Government. It represents a further step in the development of electronic administration in the country. The electronic DNI consists mainly of:

  • A chip with the owner’s personal data.
  • Certificates for authentication and electronic signature.

What information does the electronic ID contain?

As we have already mentioned, the electronic ID card contains in its small integrated circuit or microchip all the information necessary for the identification and signature of its holder. This data can be broken down into:

  • Personal data.
  • Digitised image of the photo.
  • Digitised image of the handwritten signature.
  • Cryptographic overview of the biometric fingerprint.
  • Authentication and electronic signature certificates.
  • Certificate of the ID’s own component.

It is important to note that this data is securely encrypted. In addition, the chip does not contain any historical data of the holder, nor health, tax, criminal, employment, etc. data, which are specially protected by the RGPD.

From electronic ID to ID 3.0

As a result of the evolution of technology and the needs of citizens, since 2015 the electronic ID card has been gradually giving way to its successor, the DNI 3.0.

What is the difference between these two documents? The main difference between the eID and the ID 3.0 is that the latter supports NFC(Near Field Communication) technology. This NFC technology is based on the wireless exchange of information at short range (about 20 cm) and is mainly designed for mobile devices.

This NFC technology is the one that allows signing with electronic DNi by means of mobile applications, as is the case of Viafirma, taking a step forward in the usefulness of the DNI, extending its use to more than just procedures with the public administration and avoiding the need for a card reader, with its consequent gain in mobility.

How to sign with electronic ID

How to sign with electronic ID?

When we talk about signing with an electronic ID, we are talking about a qualified electronic signature. This category of signature is the one that offers the greatest legal guarantees, with the same recognition as the handwritten signature, being defined according to the eIDAS Regulation as:

“An advanced electronic signature that is created by means of a qualified electronic signature creation device and is based on a qualified electronic signature certificate.”

1.- Comply with the requirements for signing with electronic ID card

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

With DNI 3.0, we are also offered the possibility of using the aforementioned NFC technology, whose device complies with the ISO 14443 Standard, which refers to electronic identification cards, especially proximity cards.

In terms of software, both electronic DNI and DNI 3.0 are ready for use from any operating system, supporting the following Internet browsers:

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer (version 6.0 or higher)
  • Mozilla Firefox (version 1.5 or higher)
  • Netscape (version 4.78 o higher)

If we are going to sign using a card reader, we will need to have a cryptographic module, which will be different depending on the operating system or browser, and on the drivers of the reading device itself.

2.- Sign with electronic ID from the application

For the signature operation itself, we will have to open the document to be signed through the software solution with which we are going to sign it.

The process to sign with electronic DNI step by step will vary depending on the tool we are going to use. In the case of Viafirma, it is a very simple and intuitive procedure. Whether you use a card reader or NFC, the solution will recognise the certificate as another one in the system. You just have to choose it and use it.

In general terms, you will have to select the document, which can be consulted prior to signing, and then proceed to sign it, for which you will be required to enter the verification PIN of your electronic ID or ID 3.0. This code is given to us when we obtain it and we can modify it if we wish.

As we can see, making the most of all that electronic ID and ID 3.0 have to offer only requires a few simple steps that can be carried out from practically any device and system.

Admittedly, the need to have a card reader or NFC-enabled devices can be a difficulty for many citizens, and is one of the reasons why signing with an electronic ID card is a utility that is not fully consolidated in Spain. There are other qualified signature solutions, such as signing with a certificate installed in the device’s system and, above all, remote signing, using the certificate in the cloud, which completely frees up hardware and peripheral requirements.

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


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