9 May 2024

E-signature – what is it and why is it important for entrepreneurs?

A qualified e-signature is authenticated using a specially qualified certificate that ensures the identity of the signer. In other words, it is a verification method that is supported by licensed software, which needs to be purchased, and the procedures associated with its use must be followed.

A qualified e-signature is similar to a handwritten one in its legal force, and it is produced digitally. Only the person to whom the signature and certificate are allocated has the right to use it. With a qualified signature, any document can be authorized.

Qualified signature – logic of operation

If a secure electronic signature is verified using a qualified certificate and is submitted while that certificate is valid, it has legal effects by the law. On the other hand, if the secure electronic signature is submitted during the period of suspension of the qualified certificate used to verify it, legal effects follow when this suspension is canceled

Electronic data with a secure electronic signature verified by a valid qualified certificate holds the same legal value as hand-signed documents, unless special provisions dictate otherwise.

Advantages for entrepreneurs

A qualified signature can be used to handle official formalities, conclude contracts remotely or participate in electronic auctions on bidding platforms. You can purchase a qualified signature from one of the officially approved providers listed on the website of the National Certification Center. Moreover, a software issued in one European Union country is recognized in all other EU countries. Unlike a trusted profile, which is a different concept, a qualified signature has more legal standing and can be used for a wider range of purposes.

An electronic signature, especially a qualified one, can be a valuable tool for a lawyer to exchange documents electronically with the court and to represent clients remotely, with prior authorization. It also facilitates the processes of setting up companies online and signing commercial and civil law contracts. 

Since 2001, electronic signatures in Poland have had the same legal force as traditional handwritten ones, thanks to the relevant law. As a result, entrepreneurs can safely use this method of document authorization.

Types of qualified e-signature

The business of providing certification services (offering signatures) does not require a permit or license. Among the most popular qualified signatures are:

  • Sigillum Sign, Szafir 2.0
  • proCertum SmartSign
  • PEM-HEART 3.9
  • SecureDoc 2 by EuroCert

The set that makes up a qualified signature usually includes:

  • a special cryptographic card, on which your qualified certificate is stored;
  • a card reader that you connect to your computer;
  • the software you need to install.

Alternative: ePUAP trusted profile

The ePUAP trusted profile is an alternative to the qualified signature in communications between individuals (service customers) and businesses and government agencies. In addition, government employees can also use the ePUAP trusted profile to authorize documents transmitted between themselves.

The procedure for confirming the identity of a person who obtains confirmation of data in his profile takes place at a confirmation point (PP), where a duly authorized employee acts as a certification inspector. Procedures such as setting up a profile, submitting an application, or confirming a profile take place in a secure environment managed by the relevant IT Minister.

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ARPI Accounting is a part of ARPI Group, a Norwegian holding which started to operate in Poland in 2001.