What is a Qualified Electronic Signature?
A Qualified Electronic Signature (QES) is an Advanced Electronic Signature (AdES) based on a qualified certificate and created by a Qualified Electronic Signature Creation Device (QSCD). An AdES must have the following:
- Uniquely identify and link its signatory to the electronic signature
- Signatory must have sole control of the keys used to create the electronic signature
- Identify if the data has been tampered after signing
- Invalidate the signature if data has been altered
A QES is an AdES plus a qualified certificate which is only issued by a certified qualified trust services provider (QTSP) attesting to the authenticity of the electronic signature through proof of signer identity. In addition, a QES needs to be created within a trustworthy environment (QSCD) using specific software and hardware that ensures:
- Only the signatory has control of their private key
- The signature creation data that is generated is managed by a qualified trust provider
- The signature creation data is unique, confidential and protected from forgery
Under eIDAS regulations, a QES has the same legal effect as a handwritten signature. It is recognized in all member states of the EU.
DigiCert® Document Trust Manager meets all QES requirements as a certified QTSP through its European subsidiary QuoVadis. All DigiCert QES are securely managed in a trustworthy environment and audited by the appropriate Conformity Assessment Body (CAB) for eIDAS compliance and supervised by the Supervisory Body of NL (Agentschap Telecom) and BE (FOD Economie).
Why Should I Use a Qualified Electronic Signature?
Qualified Electronic Signatures (QES) provide the highest level of assurance with face-to-face (in-person or online video) identity verification, document integrity and nonrepudiation. eIDAS Qualified Electronic Signatures (QES) provide the highest legal backing for digital signatures.
What are the Most Common Use Cases for Qualified Electronic Signatures?
Depending on region or countries, Qualified Electronic Signatures are often used with:
- Contracts or documents that require QES, such as an employment contract or tax documents
- High-value or high-risk documents, such as high-dollar agreements like mortgages or loans
- Documents to confirm their origin, such as public procurement or tenders
- Confidential or legal documents, such as non-disclosure or transfer agreements
- Legal authorization documents, such as signing on behalf of another person