What type of authentication is required by different documents?

When using electronic signatures, you have to keep some requirements in the back of your mind. One of those requirements is authentication. You verify if someone really is who he/she claims to be, and which documents are involved.

It is also important to investigate the requirements for concluding agreements that are stipulated in national law. For example, maybe a distinction is made between ‘authentic’ and ‘private’ documents. It is therefore important to establish whether the document is ‘authentic’ or ‘private’ in nature.

Authentic documents are those drawn up in the proper form by authorised officials, such as the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, civil-law notaries and courts of law.

Private documents are any documents that are not authentic. In practice, this essentially means that private documents are any documents not drawn up by a civil-law notary, but are signed nonetheless.

Currently, authentic documents require a qualified electronic signature, so documents in which the qualified signature is explicitly mentioned, such as notarial deeds for the land registry.

Of all document flows, 95% are private and can be signed using an advanced digital signature, on condition that no additional requirements are set by supervisory authorities, and that the service provider does not need the strict requirement of a qualified certificate to identify the signatory.

Discussing the different laws of various countries is unfortunately not possible, but if you have any question about these specific legal elements in your country, please feel free to contact us.


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Because electronic signatures have the same legal status as handwritten signatures, a digitally signed document has the same status as one signed by hand. However, the electronic signature must still comply with the requirements that are set by law.

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