What is an Advanced Electronic Signature, and How Does It Work?

Digital signatures have become widely acceptable and legally binding in many industries. Today, you can sign PDF documents using a scanned signature or by electronically attaching a signature.

What is an Advanced Electronic Signature, and How Does It Work?

To avoid the indiscriminate use of paper, businesses resorted to electronic signatures as a tool for confirming the signatory’s identity. An electronic signature generator does all the heavy lifting when signing contracts and orders in PDF formats.

Depending on the level of security needed, you can apply simple, advanced, or qualified electronic signatures to your online documents. This article will consider the various ways to use advanced electronic signatures to sign a PDF online.

What is an Electronic Signature?

An electronic signature is a signature in electronic format. It’s a fast, secure way of authorizing documents or giving someone permission without physically signing a piece of paper.

By using e-signatures, you can assert compliance with the terms and conditions placed in electronic documents. You can also request signatures virtually from anywhere in the world.

In 2000, Congress, through the U.S. Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, pronounced electronic signatures legally binding and enforceable.

According to the ESIGN Act, an electronic signature is “an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.”

Since algorithms, certificate authorities, and trusted service providers are deployed to authenticate the integrity of these signatures, electronic signing may even be more secure than handwritten ones (which can be forged).

To improve trust in electronic transactions in the EU, eIDAS created three assurance levels of signatures in electronic forms. Depending on your confidence needs, these signatures offer a level of secure electronic interactions between cross-border businesses.

They include:

  • Simple electronic signature (SES)
  • Advanced electronic signature (AES)
  • Qualified electronic signature (QES)

What is an Advanced Electronic Signature?

An advanced electronic signature (AES) enforces the authenticity and integrity of a signed document. Unlike a simple electronic signature, AES guarantees validity through added security protocols.

As dictated by eIDAS, an advanced electronic signature must be linked explicitly to the individual and capable of identifying the signer. A typical example is the one-time passwords sent via text or email for account login verification.

They’re also required to digitally sign PDF employment contracts, rental agreements, and sales contracts. Whatever form of AES is used must be linked to the signature data to ensure that changes are easily discoverable.

Simple vs. Qualified vs. Advanced electronic signature: Differences and Similarities

Companies may use simple, advanced, or qualified agreements to authenticate files. To select the digital signature your business needs, you must factor in the industry’s compliance requirements and the level of security needed.

A simple electronic signature is the most basic level of e-signature used to electronically sign PDF files. Common examples include scanned signatures and tick-boxes on webpages for accepting the terms of a contract.

The best part of using SES is that it’s just a click. It’s easy to collect but doesn’t endorse the authenticity of the signed document, nor is it applicable for high-risk transactions.

While advanced signatures are used for moderate-risk situations with high-volume demands, qualified signatures offer the highest level of security for elaborate financial transactions in Europe.

It’s possible to sign email attachments and data files electronically. However, an AES requires face-to-face verification as a prerequisite, while a QES often requires video verification of the signer before granting QES signatory capability.

Trust service providers (TSPs) can issue an AES, while only trust service providers who are certification authorities, such as Signicat, can issue QES.

Since AES and QES are legally binding, they can be disputed in court. In an AES dispute, the disputed party must prove the signature’s validity, while the disputing party must be the one to prove the signature’s validity on a QES.

In terms of similarities, all three forms of electronic signatures are eIDAS-approved. They legally permit documents to be authenticated or accepted electronically.

Benefits of Advanced Electronic Signatures

Advanced electronic signatures offer a modern way of confirming a signatory’s identity. Understanding how to electronically sign a PDF via e-signature software can save your business a lot of time and hassle.

Other benefits of using advanced signatures include:

Tighter Security and Privacy

Countries are enforcing tighter legislation regarding electronic signatures.

Using an advanced electronic signature not only enforces an extra layer of security but also ensures your business is compliant with the ESIGN Act in the United States or the EU’s eIDAS.

An e-signing platform lets you maintain a digital trail of document handling. You can coordinate document access and restrictions using an eSign tool. It also allows you to access recipient authentication, data backups, and electronic signing certificates.

Paperless Workflows

As electronic signatures are accepted digitally, there is less need for paper. After using an eSign tool to digitally sign PDF documents, you can store those files on the cloud.

Furthermore, electronic signatures help prevent the risk associated with paper being destroyed or stolen. Opting for paperless workflows can help save your business in cases of unforeseen contingencies while saving the environment.

Better Customer Experience

The ease of adding virtual signatures from any device contributes to a positive customer experience, which is excellent for business.

Rather than signing, scanning, and mailing paper, e-signature software like Lumin Sign lets businesses speed up the process of closing deals.

AES is legally binding across borders, which is helpful when dealing with clients in other countries. This guarantees the integrity of the documents and enforces your company’s commitment to transparency in business agreements.

Improved Workflow Efficiency

E-signatures improve internal office processes by eliminating human errors and increasing cost savings. Sending a document to the recipient takes a few moments, and it can be saved in a location only accessible to authorized persons.

Learning how to sign a PDF file goes a long way in saving time spent in handling a document. Office processes are more efficient when encryption protocols are in place, and you don’t have to worry about the validity of the signature.


Electronic signatures are the perfect substitutes for pen-and-ink signatures because they make transactions safer, faster, and more convenient. They’re another way to ensure your business is compliant.

Depending on assurance requirements, your office can adopt simple, advanced, or qualified electronic signatures. After all, electronic signatures will aid your transition to a paperless workflow while offering some level of security.

Investing in an e-signature tool that enables document security and collaboration can save you a lot of money on document handling.

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