What is a qualified electronic signature?

A qualified electronic signature (QES) is a specific type of electronic signature that has a qualified digital certificate in line with the EU’s eIDAS (electronic identification, authentication and trust Services) regulation. 

A QES is typically generated and inserted using electronic signature software.

This allows all parties to digitally sign documents with a QES that they can be sure is secure and legally binding in the EU. 

Why use this type of qualified signature?

Qualified electronic signatures offer many benefits to all parties signing an official document or contract. The key benefits are: 

As per eIDAS regulations in the EU, a QES has the same legal standing as a handwritten signature.

This makes it possible to complete legally binding transactions and agreements digitally.


A QES is highly secure as it is uniquely linked to the signatory and it ensures that any changes to the data are detectable, ensuring the integrity of the signed document.

Cross-border acceptance

A QES is recognized and accepted across all member countries of the European Union.

This makes it ideal for cross-border transactions and agreements, as it eliminates the need for country-specific signatures or agreements.

Efficiency and convenience

Using a QES can dramatically speed up processes that require signatures.

Instead of having to physically mail documents for a handwritten signature or meet in person, the best electronic signature software allows parties to instantly sign documents electronically.

Qualified electronic signatures: Common use cases

A qualified digital signature is often used for important, high-value or high-risk documents, such as:

  • Contracts and agreements between individuals, businesses, and organizations, such as employment contracts or vendor contracts.
  • Government transactions, forms, and applications such as tax returns and permit applications.
  • Financial transactions like loan agreements, mortgage documents, and investment contracts.
  • Healthcare documents, including medical records and patient consent forms.
  • Real estate transactions such as signing property sale agreements, lease contracts, and property management documents.
  • Remote notarization is where a notary public applies their electronic seal and signature to a document online.
  • Intellectual property-related documents such as patent applications, copyright registrations, and licensing agreements.
  • The supply chain industry can use QES to sign shipping and delivery documents, invoices, and contracts with suppliers and distributors.

When you create an electronic signature, you should read any contract or document carefully to check if this needs to be a qualified electronic signature.

If it does, a standard eSignature won’t be valid, which will cause problems down the line or make it impossible for you to sign otherwise. 

How to get a QES 

You can’t get a qualified electronic signature for free. If you want to get a QES, you will need to go through a Qualified Trust Service Provider (QTSP).

The QTSP is authorized to issue Qualified Certificates necessary for the creation of QES. 

You’ll need to find a QTSP that is recognized by the EU, which will then verify your identity and provide you with a Qualified Certificate.

When you need to provide a QES, you can then use a signature creation device, which might be a digital token or code, to create a QES and sign online documents. 

While PandaDoc offers many types of electronic signatures, it works with third parties such as Evrotrust to provide QES to users with Business and Enterprise plans. 

Let PandaDoc help with all your eSignature needs

PandaDoc is a convenient, hassle-free eSignature solution.

Whether you need a QES as part of our Business and Enterprise plans or a standard digital signature for your contracts or agreements, PandaDoc has you covered. 

PandaDoc helps you create, edit, and share documents with anyone who needs to sign them.

Signing online with PandaDoc is simple.

You can drag and drop signatures, create fields where signatures are required, and save and securely store signed documents for future reference. All on one platform.