Efficient administration with electronic signatures

Due to the pandemic, the need for digital services, home offices and digital communication with citizens in the administration has increased since 2020. However, signatures are required for most digital work processes, especially at public authorities and in administration. This means: Inevitably, one has to deal with the necessity of electronic signatures.

An electronic signature (also known as an e-signature) is a digital way of obtaining the signatory’s consent to a contract, form or agreement. This can be done, for example, by using buttons, by signing on a touchpad, by typing the name in a form or inserting a graphic. It is important to note that there are three types of electronic signatures. You can find out more about the qualified electronic signature (QES) as the most secure form and highest level of electronic identification here:

Electronic Signature: Legally Binding in the EU

In recent years, the basic requirements for digital work processes have also changed for public authorities and administrations. The EU has focused on user-friendliness in dealing with electronic signatures and has made the so-called remote signature possible with the European Regulation on Electronic Identification and Trust Services (eIDAS).

In the meantime, digital signatures or electronic signatures are legally binding throughout the European Union. They have the legal validity of a handwritten signature. In addition, these digital documents can carry further information such as time stamps. Another advantage of this digital way of working is that the documents cannot be lost and cannot be passed on to others. Furthermore, electronic signatures are permanently readable.

Conversion to digital administration

More efficiency and less bureaucracy in the day-to-day work of public authorities is an important goal that has currently gained a great deal of priority in public administrations, and work is being done at full speed to ensure that the classical processes are converted to digital processes.

One of the most important components for this is the introduction of digital signatures and seals. This also involves implementing the Online Access Act (OZG) and the E-Government Act:

Unfortunately, it is still the case that many permits and applications are only available as forms which citizens have to print out in order to sign. There is still a need to catch up here and this is particularly annoying because some documents really only have to be printed out for the signature. Thus, the digital process does not really make sense and the actual advantages that an electronic signature brings are not used.

Advantages of electronic signatures in administration:

  • More efficient and faster work
  • Several devices are not involved as is the case with manual signatures (printer, fax, scanner).
  • The documents cannot be lost or passed on and are permanently legible and can be found quickly
  • There is no need for postage and paper, which also has ecological advantages.
  • Especially when several signatures are required, the digital process saves a lot of time and effort.
  • When using electronic signatures, all employees receive the digital documents at the same time, which further accelerates the overall process.
  • Reduction of bureaucracy
  • Documents can be transmitted without media discontinuity and processed by machine

With the introduction of electronic signatures, high overall costs can be saved in any case, as processes run faster and more efficiently. When manual signatures are no longer necessary, transactions can now take a few minutes when they would otherwise have taken several days.