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Overview of electronic signature law and its legality in Finland

Finland began recognizing electronic signatures as legally valid in 2009 with the passing of The Act on Strong Electronic Identification and Electronic Signatures. Finnish law recognizes eSignatures as legally admissible in court, as well as on general business contracts.

Are eSignatures legal in Finland?

Handwritten signatures are not required to ensure that a contract is legally binding in Finland. If two parties come to a written, electronic, or verbal agreement, then under Finnish law, that contract is considered legally binding.

In 2009, The Act of Strong Electronic Identification and Electronic Signatures was passed. This act laid out provisions for how service providers can create strong electronic identification services.

When eIDAS regulations passed in 2016, these regulations were standardized across all EU member states, including Finland. The eIDAS regulations gave qualified electronic signatures (QES) the same legal weight as handwritten signatures.

Understanding the Finnish legal model

Finland’s legal model is a combination of civil law and common law systems. The country operates under a civil law system when it comes to criminal law, property, succession, and contracts.

But it’s legal model represents a common law system in terms of taxation, insurance, banking, and labor relations. The Finnish legal model is similar to legal systems in Germany, Austria, Belgium, and Denmark.

The three main types of electronic signatures

According to eIDAS regulations, a contract cannot be denied validity merely for being an electronic contract. The regulations did specify three different types of electronic signatures:

  • Standard electronic signature (SES): This is the most basic type of electronic signature. It’s usually typed or scanned, so there’s no proof of who the signatory is.
  • Advanced electronic signature (AES): An AES is an electronic signature with some type of properties that are unique to the signatory. For this reason, it is considered more secure than an SES.
  • Qualified electronic signature (QES): A QES is considered the most secure type of electronic signature. Under eIDAS regulations, it is given the same legal equivalent as a handwritten signature.

When is an SES appropriate?

An SES is appropriate for many general business contracts. This includes things like HR documents, commercial agreements, consumer agreements, and general real estate agreements.

When is a QES required?

A QES may be required for certain corporate documents, prenuptial agreements, or mortgage applications. In certain rare instances, a handwritten signature may be necessary.

Technology standards in Finland

Finland is a member of the European Union so they follow European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) standards when it comes to electronic signatures. The country recognizes a QES as a distinct type of electronic signature.

Additional types of eSignatures can be submitted in court, but additional proof may be required.

Can you use PandaDoc signatures in Finland?

Yes, PandaDoc software complies with electronic signatures laws in Finland. You can use our eSignature software to carry out all business contracts in Finland. Our software makes it easy for both parties to draw, type, or upload your signature.