Signature legislation

The for the main part practice-orientated laws, particularly in Europe, have resulted internationally in numerous legal standards regulating electronic signatures that are characterised by a high "similarity factor". In most cases, the (certified) electronic signature is accorded the same status as the hand-signed signature. This means that the legal frameworks for the usage of electronic signatures in the business domain now exist.

The adherence to international standards allows the signature solutions available on the market to be easily integrated in existing applications, simplifying the technical implementation of the electronic signature considerably. Numerous projects in the fields of e-government, e-invoicing, e-archiving, e-banking or e-forms are proof of the accelerated development of the electronic signature.

Global overview
At global level, national regulations are supported by the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Signatures. Countries including China (2004), Mexico (2003), Thailand (2001), Vietnam (2005) and the United Arab Emirates (2006) have adopted signature legislation on the basis of this law.

Most of the world’s industrial countries have passed laws that accord (qualified) electronic signatures the same status as hand-signed signatures. These countries include:

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Bulgaria, Byelorussia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, the Russian Federation, Sweden, Switzerland, Singapore, Slovakian Republic, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad, Tunisia, Turkey, Uruguay, the USA, Venezuela and Vietnam.