What is the history of eSignature in the US?
When did the first eSignature appear?
- 50-55 A.D. — Tertius and Paul add their names to the letters in the New Testament.
- 1069 — The earliest example of a signature (resembling a contemporary autograph) appears.
- 1613 — William Shakespeare signs his Testament and Last Will.
- 1677 — The Parliament of England passes the Act for Prevention of Frauds and Perjuriers according to which a signature becomes a requirement on certain contracts.
- 1776 — President of the Continental Congress, John Hancock, puts his signature under the US Declaration of Independence.
- 1869 — Due to the New Hampshire Supreme Court decision, eSignatures sent by telegraph become accepted in courts and by the government.
- The 1980s — Singed documents sent by fax become legally valid in many countries around the world.
- 1996 — UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Commerce is adopted by the United Nations.
- 2000 — Bill Clinton, the 42nd President of the USA, signs the ESIGN Act (Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act) into law.
Why was eSignature legalized in the USA?
As we’ve already mentioned, the ENSIGN Act, or Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, was passed in 2000 and granted legal validity to eSignatures. The legislation contributed to a number of commerce-related laws.
EUTA (United Electronic Transaction Act) was adopted a year earlier, in 1999. According to EUTA, written records and signatures can be replaced with electronic equivalents provided all the parties agree to it.
In a nutshell, both pieces of legislation solidify the legal status of electronic signatures and records in commerce. However, it should be noted that in many countries there are certain categories of documents that are not subject to eSignature legislation. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to make sure the document you want to eSign doesn’t fall within the category of excluded types of documents.
eSignature vs. ink-and-paper signature: which one to choose?
How to sign a PDF document
- Open the email you received inviting you to eSign.
- Read the whole document through attentively before making the decision to sign it.
- Click on the Signature field.
- Choose how you want to execute the document. There are several options: type your first and last name (adjust the font as you like), import an image of your signature or draw it right on the screen using a cursor, stylus or finger.
- Add the Signature field.
- Double-check the document to make sure you have filled out all the required fields.
- Complete the process by pressing Done.