Published on : 17 March 20203 min reading time
The term electronic signature may seem bleak to most people. The questions that often arise are: What is it about? How do I proceed and what documents can I sign electronically in France?
The electronic signature, what does it refer to?
To explain what an electronic signature is, we need to talk about what it is not. Contrary to what the majority may think, this is not a scan of the handwritten signature. The electronic signature sees itself as the evolution of the manual signature, the latter being also the evolution of the wax buckets. It has the same value as the manual signature, the greatest difference concerns the documents to be signed. While the manual signature gives legal value to a paper document, the Word electronic signature, for example, gives legal value to a document in Word format. The electronic signature even surpasses its predecessor, as it guarantees the completeness of the signed document. By signing manually, you put your signature in writing at the bottom of the document. With the electronic signature, you initial every letter, punctuation and space. So be careful to read what you are signing. The question then comes back to which documents can I sign electronically in France?
The documents concerned by the e-signature
Speaking of the documents concerned, the question can be answered in two phases. The first concerns the document format. In theory, most electronic documents can be signed, although there is some preference for Word and PDF. Companies specialising in their fields even have files and authorisations in special formats, which require an electronic signature, in their processes. The second phase of the question concerns the nature of the documents you can sign. As it has the same value as a handwritten signature, the electronic signature is used for the same purposes provided the document is available in digital format. Thus, you can sign contracts, quotations, insurance or bank documents, etc. In all cases, this type of signature avoids paperwork and speeds up the validation of document exchanges.
The digital certificate, the consequence of the e-signature
Once the question has been answered what documents can I sign electronically in France? The authenticity of the e-signature is of interest. In fact, signing electronically is like affixing your electronic certificate to a digital document, just like the stamp on a paper document. This electronic certificate guarantees the legitimacy of your signature, because it is the assurance of the unbreakable link between the electronic signature and your real identity. A trusted third party ratifies this certificate, certifying that the signature is yours. Your information is attached to the digital certificate, which is also considered your digital identity. Therefore, it is important that the certificate remains very personal.
What is an electronic signature?