What makes an e-signature legally binding in the United States?

Can businesses in the United States use e-signatures?


Yes, they can. The Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) and the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) in 2000 mean that businesses in the US are able to use e-signatures when trading. 

 

ESIGN and UETA

 

Both ESIGN and UETA highlight that electronic documents and e-signatures are seen in the same legal standing as traditional ways of completing contracts. Electronic documents and signatures can’t be rejected simply for being electronic and are as legally binding as a traditional handwritten signature.

 

The ESIGN act states:

  • Any law requiring a signature can be satisfied by an e-signature.
  • Electronic agreements can be presented as evidence in court.

 

UETA states:

  • A record or signature cannot be denied legally simply because it is in electronic form.
  • If a law requires a record in writing then an electronic record will satisfy.
  • An electronic signature is as binding as a handwritten one when the law requires a signature.

 

Obviously these are quick summations of the ESIGN and UETA rules and there are some exceptions and more details to be found. You can read further about ESIGN here and the UETA here.

 

Electronic signature law in the United States – what else do you need to know?

 

Elsewhere on our site, we make clear the many benefits of using e-signatures, which you can read about here. However instead of covering that same ground, in this article we’ll go a bit further into what makes e-signatures legally binding in the United States.

 

What makes electronic signatures legally binding in the United States?

 

  • Intent to Sign

 

No different than a wet signature, e-signatures are only considered valid if a user demonstrates a clear intent to sign which Signable provides.

 

  • Consent to do business electronically

 

There must be expressed or implied consent from the signing parties to do business electronically. Signers also have the option to opt out.

 

  • Clear signature attribution

 

Signable provides a clear and detailed audit trail that provides clear signature attribution once everyone has signed a document. Everyone involved receives an email that includes the completed electronic document attached as a PDF and a certificate of signature.

The certificate of signature is an important document that includes important information including:

    • Who each signing party is
    • Dates, time stamps, IP addresses and fingerprints
    • A full audit log or audit trail

 

  • Associating the electronic signature with the record

 

Simply, the e-signatures must be connected to the electronic document being signed.

 

  • Record retention

 

E-signature records are only valid as long as they can be reproduced if required. Signable provides a signed copy via PDF and allows parties to download the document when required.

Signable provides all of the above, meaning that you can trust your documents will be legally binding in the US. 

It’s worth noting that in the US electronic signatures and digital signatures are both popular and we provide e-signature services. You can find out more about the difference between an electronic signature and a digital signature here.

 

Try Signable and get your documents signed today!

 

You can get started with Signable and start sending documents to be electronically signed free for 14 days with our trial. Signable is fast, flexible and affordable, check out our plans page to see how we can help your business and get processes moving today.

We may send you emails directly about your Signable account. These emails will come directly from Signable and will always be related to your account. You may opt out of these emails via the link at the bottom of the email that you receive.