The Electronic Seal: Uses and Benefits

Do you still remember the times when you needed to stamp your invoices or delivery notes with a rubber stamp? Although this system was used not so long ago, the ongoing digital transformation of companies has led to a change in such processes, switching out the rubber stamp for an electronic seal. In this post, we’ll discuss the specific uses and benefits of using this innovative technology.

What is the electronic seal?

The definition of the electronic seal can be found in Article 3 of the eIDAS Regulation, which includes the following:

  • ‘Electronic seal’ means data in electronic form, which is attached to or logically associated with other data in electronic form to ensure the latter’s origin and integrity;
  • ‘Advanced electronic seal’ means an electronic seal, which meets the requirements set out in Article 36;
  • ‘Qualified electronic seal’ means an advanced electronic seal, which is created by a qualified electronic seal creation device, and that is based on a qualified certificate for electronic seal.

Essentially, the electronic seal guarantees the integrity and authenticity of the documents that are linked to it.

The requirements established in Article 36 of the eIDAS Regulation regarding the advanced electronic seal include the following:

  • It is uniquely linked to the creator of the seal.
  • It is capable of identifying the creator of the seal.
  • It is created using electronic seal creation data that the creator of the seal can, with a high level of confidence under its control, use for electronic seal creation.
  • It is linked to the data to which it relates in such a way that any subsequent change in the data is detectable.

What is it used for?

The electronic seal can be used for many purposes by companies, including the following:

  • To identify individuals for public administration purposes (including social security, tax agencies, etc.)
  • For electronic invoices or payslips
  • For document encryption

What are the legal effects?

The eIDAS Regulation also regulates the legal effects of the electronic seal and establishes that:

  • An electronic seal shall not be denied legal effect and admissibility as evidence in legal proceedings solely on the grounds that it is in an electronic form or that it does not meet the requirements for qualified electronic seals.
  • A qualified electronic seal shall enjoy the presumption of integrity of the data and of correctness of the origin of that data to which it is linked.
  • A qualified electronic seal based on a qualified certificate issued in one Member State shall be recognized as a qualified electronic seal in all other Member States.

How is the electronic signature different from the electronic seal?

The terms electronic signature and electronic seal are often confused and used interchangeably; however, they are not the same. The electronic signature is defined in the eIDAS Regulation as the set of data in electronic form that includes information about a person that cannot be repudiated and that is associated with a document.

Therefore, the objective of the electronic signature is to unequivocally identify the individual who signs and to ensure that the signed document has not been modified after signing. The seal can also be used to identify an individual or an entity and to ensure the integrity of a document, but it is intended for legal persons (corporations and other entities). Furthermore, the electronic seal allows a company to identify itself and sign without including the personal information of its legal representative.

What benefits can the electronic seal offer your company?

The electronic seal offers companies various benefits, which include the following:

  • When using an electronic seal,  the personal data of a company’s representative does not need to be included.
  • The electronic seal guarantees authenticity and integrity of the documents containing it, such as invoices, delivery notes, etc.
  • Reduction of expenses and time spent on the company’s processes.
  • It is an easy-to-use tool that can facilitate relationships and transactions with customers, suppliers, and workers.
  • When using the electronic seal, the amount of paperwork involved in various processes is reduced, thus promoting the corporate social responsibility of the company by decreasing the use of resources such as paper, ink, and fuel for travel.
  • The electronic seal ensures secure transactions, thus improving relations between companies at an international level.
  • This technology enables various processes to become more transparent and, therefore, providing greater security.

The use of the electronic seal can make a company stand out among others in the current increasingly competitive global environment. Furthermore, it can serve as the key to initiating or continuing the digital transformation of your company. To support you in this process, it is essential to consult a reliable technology partner that is an accredited trust service provider that will help you implement this innovative technology, adapting it to your unique needs.

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