Overview of electronic signature law and its legality in the United States

About the ‘ESIGN Act’ and UETA

Electronic signatures must abide by national laws around the world which protect eSignature document users within that jurisdiction. In the U.S., the legislation is commonly known as the ESIGN Act and UETA. Those acronyms stand for:

These national eSignature laws describe four critical requirements for recognition of an electronic signature as valid. United States legal requirements include:

PandaDoc electronic signature software go beyond legal requirements for eSignature documents! You can have the complete confidence of compliance with the ESIGN Act and UETA when using PandaDoc as an electronic signature solution.

Industry-based and specific eSignature regulations

Specific businesses may also have particular eSignature regulations that pertain to their industry. Federal and state regulations can impose additional legal obligations beyond the general U.S. laws we’ve already outlined.

US life sciences regulations (21 CFR Part II)

An example of an industry-specific eSignature law is the 21 CFR Part 11 (“Part 11”). These eSigned document requirements pertain to the FDA. According to these regulations, electronic recording systems should:

Ensure your eSigned documents meet industry regulations by choosing PandaDoc.

History of U.S. eSignature Law

The ESIGN Act is a federal law, signed in 2000. This milestone legislation recognizes the significance of electronic transactions and updates many commerce-related regulations. It specifically identified the importance and legitimacy of electronic signatures and records, assuming contract participants agree to use electronic documents and eSigning.

UETA was a forerunner of the ESIGN Act. Introduced in 1999, this was adopted by 47 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The key provision of UETA is that when a law requires a document or a signature, an electronic record or an eSignature is valid when transacting parties agree to proceed electronically.

UETA and the ESIGN Act consolidated the legitimate use of electronic records and eSignature documents for commercial activities. Electronic records and eSignatures now carry the same weight of the law and have legal parity with traditional paper documents and handwritten signatures.

Both laws preserve the following assumptions:

International laws

International laws about e-documents and signatures vary around the world and businesses transacting overseas should always seek legal advice. Localized laws covering electronic signatures may refer to particular industries, types of documents, or document categories for which electronic signatures are not appropriate. Examples where national differences may apply could be:

PandaDoc recommends clients to always seek legal counsel when undertaking transactions across jurisdictions. We can, however, guarantee that all U.S. based transactions will always be legally compliant.

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