Understanding Electronic Signature Laws In The US

Understanding Electronic Signature Laws In The US

Gone are the days of printing, signing, and scanning documents. Electronic signature solutions make execution easier than ever before. Keep reading to explore the various solutions available, the laws governing their use, and how to best utilize them.


Businesses no longer want papers or wet signatures to slow down their operations. Whether onboarding vendors, clients, or employees, organizations can get things done faster with electronic signature solutions. However, it's essential to understand the legal framework that governs the technology. You don’t want shortcomings on your side to deem the contractual agreement invalid. In this blog post, we will delve into the intricacies of electronic signature laws in the US, providing you with the knowledge you need to navigate your business transactions effectively.

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What is an electronic signature?

An electronic signature is a digital representation of an individual's handwritten signature. The Uniform Law Commission defines them as “an electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with a record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.” Electronic signatures can verify the authenticity and integrity of digital documents. They offer convenience and efficiency, allowing individuals to sign documents electronically without physical paperwork. 

The signature is encrypted and tied to the document using a unique digital certificate. This certificate contains information about the signer's identity, such as their name and email address. The encrypted signature and certificate are then securely attached to the document. It enables easy detection of any tampering or unauthorized changes to the document. It makes electronic signatures a reliable and secure method. It verifies the signer’s identification and the document’s integrity.

Legal validity of electronic signatures

Many nations, including the US and the EU, have legal recognition for electronic signatures. Accordingly, handwritten and electronic signatures may be equally legitimate in court. While electronic signatures have gained acceptance, their legal validity may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific requirements of the document or transaction. 

Intent to sign: The signer must intend to sign the document electronically. 

Consent and acknowledgment: The signer must consent to sign electronically and acknowledge that their electronic signature has the same legal effect as a traditional handwritten signature.

Authentication and integrity: The electronic signature must be associated with the signer and the document in a way that ensures its authenticity.

Electronic signature benefits

Time and cost savings: Electronic signatures eliminate the need for printing, scanning, and mailing documents, saving time and money.

Increased efficiency: With electronic signatures, documents can be signed and returned in minutes, speeding up the approval process and reducing delays.

Enhanced security: They use encryption technology to ensure the authenticity and integrity of documents, providing higher security.

Improved accessibility: Electronic signatures allow for remote signing, making it easy for individuals to sign documents from anywhere, at any time.

What are the key electronic signature laws in the US?

Navigating the legal landscape of electronic signatures can be a daunting task. With the rise of digital transactions and remote work, understanding the laws and regulations governing electronic signatures is more crucial than ever. Many rules and regulations oversee their usage in business transactions owing to the global accessibility of electronic signatures.

Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce (ESIGN) Act

The ESIGN Act is a law passed in 2000 that provides legal recognition and validity to electronic signatures in the United States. It facilitates electronic transactions and electronic signatures for interstate and foreign commercial purposes. 

The ESIGN Act allows electronic signatures in diverse transactions, including contracts, agreements, and other legally binding documents. The law validates that electronic signatures are just as legally enforceable as traditional alternatives. It has streamlined and expedited conducting business electronically, saving time and resources. 

Additionally, the ESIGN Act ensures the security and integrity of electronic signatures by requiring attributions and authentications. Overall, the ESIGN Act has played a crucial role in promoting electronic signatures and boosting the efficiency of electronic commerce.

The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA)

UETA outlines the legal framework and guidelines for using electronic signatures and records in business transactions. It facilitates electronic communications in commerce and gives them the same legal validity as traditional, paper-based transactions. It allows parties to conduct business transactions electronically without physical documents. It also establishes rules for the authentication and integrity of electronic records, ensuring they are reliable and secure. These provisions of UETA have made it easier and more efficient for businesses to engage in electronic transactions, reducing their reliance on paper-based processes.

State-specific Laws

The laws and regulations regarding electronic signatures can vary from state to state. However, most states have adopted the ESIGN and UETA Acts to govern and validate electronic transactions. Either way, navigating the complexities of state-specific electronic signature laws is crucial for businesses and individuals alike.

The Electronics Signatures and Records Act (ESRA) states electronic signatures have the same legal validity and enforceability as paper signatures in New York State. Every business must abide by this law. Any document, contract, or receipt bearing an electronic signature is equivalent to a handwritten signature. Section 307 of the law contains some exceptions, such as any document specifying the disposition of a person or property in the event of their death or incapacity. The Nevada Electronic Transactions Act recognizes electronic records, signatures, and contracts.

Best practices for electronic signatures

Electronic signatures allow you to now sign contracts, agreements, and other paperwork without the hassle of printing, scanning, or mailing. Despite its benefits, electronically signing documents requires special consideration to be legally valid and enforceable. Here’s how to make your electronic transactions hassle-free:

1. Choose a reliable electronic signature provider

Businesses must opt for a reputable electronic signature provider to ensure documents are protected and meet legal requirements. Providers that offer encryption and authentication features can help safeguard your data.  Moreover, a user-friendly interface enables organizations to navigate and understand the platform hassle-free. It will make the process of creating and signing documents efficient and effortless. Businesses must also consider electronic signature providers that seamlessly integrate with their applications. It ensures a smooth workflow and reduces the need for manual data entry or transfers.

2. Understand legal requirements

Before implementing electronic signatures, businesses must understand the legal requirements in their jurisdiction. They should familiarize themselves with legislation such as the ESIGN Act in the United States or the eIDAS Regulation in the European Union. Establishing clear processes to obtain the consent of all parties is also essential to validating the electronic signature process. The parties must understand the implications and agree to be bound by the electronic signature. 

3. Authentication and security measures

Authentication and security measures can help to ensure the integrity and validity of these signatures. One of the best practices is to use multi-factor authentication, such as requiring a password and a unique verification code sent to the signer's registered email or phone number. Additionally, implementing encryption techniques can safeguard the signature and the document from unauthorized access or tampering. Organizations must regularly update and maintain their security protocols and software.

4. Record keeping and audit trails

Electronic signatures provide a digital record of the signing process, including timestamps and unique identifiers. It ensures accurate and secure documentation, making it easier to track and audit signatures. The ability to generate detailed audit trails allows for transparency and accountability in the signing process. Consequently, there will be no need for physical record searching or manual filing.

Contract Management Software with Electronic Signatures

Electronic signatures are widely used in various industries, including finance, legal, and business, as they provide a secure and efficient way to authenticate and authorize digital transactions. Businesses make use of them to validate their contracts with vendors, employees, and customers. That is why opting for contract management software with electronic signatures can streamline their entire business operation. They can draft, negotiate, review, and sign contractual agreements within a single platform. 

Dock 365 contract management software offers integration with secure electronic signature solutions like Adobe Sign, DocuSign, and Sertifi. They can sign, send, and execute multiple documents on any device. Businesses can get real-time visibility and receive notifications to track and manage electronic signatures using these solutions. 

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Electronic signatures have been instrumental in facilitating digital transactions and reducing the reliance on paper-based documentation. It eliminates the need for printing, signing, and scanning documents. It saves time, reduces paperwork, and allows for faster transactions. They have also helped to streamline business processes and improve efficiency in various industries.

Electronic signatures often employ advanced security measures, such as encryption and authentication, to ensure the integrity and authenticity of the signed documents. It helps prevent tampering and fraud.

Countries all around the world have taken steps to provide legal validity and enforceability to electronic signatures, ensuring that they receive the same level of trust and reliability as traditional ink signatures. The laws vary by country and jurisdiction, but generally, they recognize electronic signatures as legally binding if they meet the requirements. It may include using secure technology, the intent to sign, and the ability to verify the authenticity. Either way, any organization must be aware of these laws to carry out their business operations efficiently.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this website is not intended to be legal advice; rather, all information, content, and resources accessible through this site are for purely educational purposes. This page's content might not be up to date with legal or other information.
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Written by Deepti Gopimohan

As a creative content writer, Deepti has spent years assisting brands to share their unique voice with audiences, complying with the latest marketing trends and strategies. Her educational background in Literature & Journalism has helped her research and publish content for diverse industries & mediums.
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Reviewed by Naveen K P

Naveen, a seasoned content reviewer with 9+ years in software technical writing, excels in evaluating content for accuracy and clarity. With expertise in SaaS, cybersecurity, AI, and cloud computing, he ensures adherence to brand standards while simplifying complex concepts.

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