Qualified electronic signature - a must have if you want to participate in public procurement in the EU


Do you have to submit a public tender in an EU country? Do you need to enter into agreements in an EU country with authorities, government agencies or EU bodies? You’ve probably noticed that they require a so-called qualified signature when digitally submitting your documents.


What is a qualified electronic signature?


Qualified electronic signatures were regulated in EU member state law by the EU's eIDAS regulation. Simply put, a qualified signature is an electronic signature that has a very high level of reliability in two respects: 1) that the signatory is the actual person esigning and 2) that the public can be sure that the actual document signed was the one seen by the signatory.


In more technical lingo a qualified electronic signature is an advanced electronic signature that is created using a qualified device for the creation of signatures and which is based on a qualified certificate for electronic signatures.


How do I get a qualified signature?


Only qualified trusted service providers are allowed to issue qualified esignatures (and the special electronic certificates required to create the esignatures). The suppliers you can turn to in the EU are notified by national authorities (e.g. Swedish PTS or German BnetZA) to the EU Trusted List. 


Many suppliers use older technology where you need to physically present yourself for identity proofing and to receive special smart cards and hardware to generate qualified signatures. A few suppliers offer video conferencing identification for every signing event.


With the help of the latest in data processing and mobile technology, ZealiD can offer both identity proofing and qualified signature creation remotely through a simple mobile app called ZealiD App in less than 10 minutes.


How do I sign my documents with a qualified signature?


It depends on which supplier you have chosen. With ZealiD you use ZealiD app - take a picture of a QR code on e.g. Docusign and sign with Touch or Face ID. ZealiD collaborates with the most important signature platforms and is ready to use in Docusign, AdobeSign, Teamviewer, Evidos and many more.


How long does it take to get a qualified signature?


Some suppliers, such as the German Bundesdruckerei, need about two weeks from order to delivery. And in addition, special signature software must be obtained. 


Video conferencing providers such as ID Now need about a day or two to set you up as a customer and then 20 minutes for a video conference and signature in Docusign.


ZealiD offers a process from identification to signing in less than 15 minutes. You can activate ZealiD in Docusign in less than 24 hours.


How much a qualified electronic signature costs?

Prices on the market vary widely. From the high end €30 per signed document (including identification) to around €1 per document for signature only.