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The Signicat Blog
Thais Guillén

Marketing Manager UK

The Qualified e-Signature (QES): what is it and what is it used for

So, what is a Qualified Electronic Signature or QES? The Qualified e-signature (QES) is perceived as the most complete and secure method to digitally prove the identity of a subject and the acceptance of the content of a document.

Therefore, the QES definition could be an e-signature that is backed by a qualified certificate that identifies the signer reliably and protects the documents against tampering or forgery in such a secure way that has the same legal enforceability as a handwritten signature.

# The Qualified Electronic Signature (QES)

Among the different types of electronic signatures, the qualified e-signature is the one that provides the highest level of security and truthfulness. A QES cannot be dismissed based solely on its electronic nature or be denied admissibility as evidence. Although QES is more complex than the rest, QES provides legal validity with a level of legitimacy even higher than the traditional handwritten signature. A QES signature is, therefore, legally equivalent to a conventional handwritten signature.

The Qualified Electronic Signature is an e-signature made with a qualified certificate for identifying the signer. This qualified electronic signature certificate consists of an electronic document that links the signer's data and the QES signature's validation to the subject's unequivocal identification. The QES certificate must have been issued by a qualified certification authority.

Due to this e-Certificate, the qualified electronic signature would not need expert evidence in a court in case of conflict since it is considered a piece of totally valid evidence with the highest level of e-signature required.

The qualified electronic signature shares all the characteristics of the advanced electronic signature, such as being linked to the signer in a unique and non-transferable way and being linked to the document to be signed in such a way that both the Advanced or Qualified Electronic Signature and the document cannot be altered in a later process. However, given the case, only the Qualified e-signature has the highest legal enforceability and protection against the court.

# How to get a Qualified Electronic Signature? QES types

The Qualified Electronic Signature can be generated in two different variants, which differ mainly by its generation process and the type of qualified certificate:

  • Local Qualified Electronic Signature

The electronic certificate for local Qualified Electronic Signature is hosted on the signer's device. These QES certificates can be generated on a cryptographic card, through a USB token or as a cryptographic seal software.

This type of QES software works in any operating system and browser since it was previously installed on the signer's device. It is the standard and most common method for using a Qualified e-signature.

  • Centralised qualified electronic signature

The Qualified Electronic Signature and qualified certificate for e-signature are located in a single repository on a secure and supervised server.

This second type of Qualified Electronic Signature is commonly used in organisations; it is more versatile, and the signer can access it from any computer or mobile device with internet access. Still, centralised Qualified Electronic Signature services are offered for individuals, with all its advantages and versatility.

# EU Qualified Electronic Signature Regulations (eIDAS)

910/2014 European Union Regulation regarding electronic identification and trust services, known as eIDAS (electronic IDentification, Authentication and trust Services), describes the different types of electronic signatures. It is the pioneering rule for electronic signatures worldwide and the standard by which the regulations of other states and countries are set to develop their regulations.

eIDAS regulations prohibit EU member states from requiring a higher-level signature - there is no higher form of digital signature than the QES-qualified digital signature. (Specified in eIDAS Article 27).

# eIDAS and the Qualified Electronic Signature

According to eIDAS, the creation of e-signatures can only be carried out if qualified certificates back it. These can only be issued by a Qualified Trust Service Provider (QTSP) who is supervised and confirmed as a European Trusted Provider (Qualified Electronic Signature Provider) via the EU Trusted List.

# QES Multi: Signicat’s Qualified Electronic Signature & VideoID

QES Multi is a comprehensive onboarding and Qualified e-signature solution based on VideoID. It adapts to the needs of each situation and medium. It can be integrated into companies’ applications and websites so that users can sign in a bank or FinTech, sign documents, and make contracts.