Overview of electronic signature law and its legality in Austria
Austria has recognized electronic signatures as legally valid since 1999 with the passage of the Federal Signature Law. In 2016, eIDAS regulations standardized this for all EU member countries.
Are electronic signatures legal in Austria?
Yes, eSignatures have been legally valid in Austria since 1999. Electronic signatures can be used in most business transactions and are considered legally admissible in court. A qualified electronic signature is acceptable in situations where a handwritten signature is required.
An overview of Austria’s legal system
Austria is classified as a civil law system though its legal system contains elements of both civil law and common law systems. When it comes to constitutional law, taxation, and banking, the country’s statutes more closely resemble a common law system.
Austria operates under a civil law system when it comes to property, family relations, criminal law, and most importantly, contracts.
Civil Law systems
Civil law systems are founded in Roman law and are based on a codified set of laws. These laws are regularly updated to reflect the current legal environment and are favored more heavily than legal precedents.
Civil laws systems strive to be flexible and avoid being overly rigid, but any legislative action is considered legally binding. Roughly 60% of the world engages in civil law systems.
These countries all have legal systems that are similar to Austria:
The different types of eSignatures
A written signature is not required for contracts to be considered legally valid in Austria. However, eIDAS regulations outline three different types of eSignatures and scenarios when each is considered acceptable.
1. Standard electronic signature (SES)
An SES is often typed, so there’s no obvious proof of who signed the document. This type of signature is acceptable for HR documents, commercial agreements, and residential agreements.
2. Advanced electronic signature (AES)
An AES is considered more trustworthy, so it’s sometimes used in situations where a handwritten signature is required.
3. Qualified electronic signature (QES)
A QES is an acceptable substitute in situations where handwritten signatures are deemed necessary.
What are the technology standards in Austria?
According to Austrian law, contracts do not require a handwritten signature to be seen as legally binding. If two individuals reach an agreement, then an electronic signature is acceptable. However, additional evidence may occasionally be required.
Handwritten signatures are required on a pretty limited basis, but when it is necessary, a QES is an acceptable substitute. Austria follows the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) standards to define what qualifies as a QES.
However, under certain circumstances, Austria also accepts an additional type of electronic signature. It’s known as an Advanced Electronic Signature (AdES) and it can serve as a replacement for a QES. An AdES must meet ETSI standards to be considered legally valid.
Can PandaDoc software be used in Austria?
Yes, PandaDoc software is compatible with eSignature laws in Austria. Our software allows you to type, draw, or upload your signature to personal and business contracts. And with every document you sign, you’ll receive an electronic certificate for an additional layer of security.
PandaDoc electronic signature software will ensure that every business transaction is legally binding, saving your business time while reducing inefficiencies.