UsefulPDF eSignature legality guide in the United States

Every year, more and more countries are adopting electronic signatures as a legally binding alternative to wet signatures. This guide touches on the legality of Electronic signatures in the United States.

Overview of electronic signature legality in the United States

eSignatures have been recognized in the United States on a national level since 2000 through The United States Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN Act 2000). A year before, 47 states recognized electronic signatures through the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act (UETA Act 1999).

Together these acts supply guidelines that make electronic signatures permissible as a way to sign documents. They establish the framework that ensures the validity and legality of electronic signatures in the United States.

Within the Act, an electronic signature is defined as:

“An electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.”

The framework or guidelines governing electronic signatures in the United States encompass four areas.

Intent to sign

Just like a normal wet signature, the people involved in the transaction or agreement must have the intention to sign. An electronic signature is not valid if someone was tricked or mislead to sign.

Consent to do business electronically

Everyone that signs an agreement or document must first consent to do business this way. It cannot be ‘forced’ upon one party by another. This is considered a matter of course for businesses but there are exceptional circumstances where consumers can only engage in electronic signature transactions when:

  • The consumer has received a copy of a document called UETA Consumer Consent Disclosures
  • The consumer has agreed, with full knowledge and understanding, to use electronic records in any transaction they are a part of
  • The consumer has not withdrawn their consent to transact electronically

Association of signature with a record

The electronic document signature system used to sign the document must create and maintain a record to reflect the process showing how the signature was created. Conversely, the electronic signature software system must create a textual or graphical statement that’s added to the signature record which explicitly shows how the document was signed with an eSignature. show how the signature was created.

Records retained

In the United States, electronic signature records need to be retainable and constitute an accurate reproduction. This serves as a reference for anyone entitled to keep that record. The good news is that UsefulSignatures goes above and beyond the bare minimum required to maintain legality in the United States.

Are electronic signatures legal, admissible, enforceable, and recognized?

Yes. eSignatures are valid for almost every agreement.

Situations where electronic signatures should not be used

While electronic signatures are versatile and widely accepted in the United States, they’re not ideal in every situation such as:

Adoptions

Court orders and notices or official court documents

Divorces

Notices used for cancellation of utility service

Other areas of family law

Wills and Codicils

Notices used for cancellation of health or life insurance

Notices for recall of products

Documents that accompany the transportation of hazardous material

Disclaimer: The information contained on this page is intended for general informational and educational purposes only. It’s designed to help organizations understand the overall framework and guidelines for eSignature legality. The information contained here is not intended to be legal advice and shouldn’t be used as a substitute for legal advice from a professional. Please consult a licensed attorney for legal advice or representation.

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