Overview of electronic signature law and its legality in Spain

Spain

As an EU member state, Spain has legally recognized electronic signatures since 2003. The EU Directive originally passed the Electronic Signature Act in 1999. And in 2016, the eIDAS standardized these regulations across Europe.

Overview of Spain’s legal model

Spain has a tiered legal model, which means that handwritten signatures are not required to validate a contract. Generally, if two people come to a written or electronic agreement, that contract is considered legally valid. However, additional documentation may be required to validate that contract.

Legal model

Like many countries in Europe, Spain operates under a Civil Law legal system. The country is actually a mix of Civil Law and Common Law systems, but it uses Civil Law when it comes to property, contracts, and criminal law.

A Civil Law system is based on Roman law and has a codified set of principles. Countries that operate under a Civil Law system put less emphasis on legal precedents in determining how to apply written laws. Most countries in Europe, South America, and Asia operate under Civil Law systems.

The electronic signature law in Spain

According to Spanish law, an eSignature is given the same legal weight as a handwritten signature. Article 1528 states that contracts become valid once two legally competent parties come to an agreement.

Understanding the eIDAS regulations

Electronic signature laws were standardized across Europe with the passage of the eIDAS regulations. The eIDAS regulations replaced the e-Signatures Directive for all 28 member states in the European Union.

The eIDAS regulations are mostly neutral when it comes to technology and define three types of electronic signatures:

  • Standard electronic signature (SES): This is the most basic type of eSignature. The signatory can type or draw their name, and there is no electronic form to validate the signature.
  • Advanced electronic signature (AES): An AES has more identifying marks that are unique to the signer. This type of signature is usually drawn using a pen or stylus, but there is no accompanying qualified certificate.
  • Qualified electronic signature (QES): A QES is considered the strongest type of electronic signature. The signer will draw their name on a secure signature creation device, and the contract comes with an electronic form to validate the document.

When are eSignatures appropriate in Spain?

Although a QES is considered the strongest type of eSignature, an SES is appropriate for the following types of documents:

  • HR documents;
  • Consumer agreements;
  • Commercial lease agreements;
  • Licensing agreements;
  • Property transfers;
  • Privacy notices.

When is a QES required?

However, a QES is required for the following types of documents: notarizations, wills, marriage contracts, inheritance agreements.

Can I use PandaDoc eSignature software in Spain?

Yes, PandaDoc eSignature software is compliant with eSignature laws in Spain. This makes it easy for you to get contracts signed and do business in Spain. Sign up to try our software free for 14 days.