The Sweden eSignature Guide: Laws, Regulations, and Privacy

Janice Yau
August 13, 2020
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Taking your business international involves a number of challenges — but signing electronic “paperwork” shouldn’t be one of them.

Thanks to the convenience and security of modern eSignature tools, you can create secure agreements with international partners and clients anywhere in the world. The only tricky part is making sure your eSignatures meet international and local legal requirements.

That’s why we’re exploring electronic signature guidelines around the globe, including Sweden and other members of the European (Union EU).

In order to create secure business agreements that are legal and enforceable in Sweden, you’ll want to learn everything you can about eIDAS regulations and Swedish eSignature law. This guide explains how Sweden’s eSignature rules and regulations can impact your business.

Are Electronic Signatures Legal in Sweden?

Illustration of Sweden, a person and a signed document

The first question you’re probably asking yourself is “Are eSignatures legal in Sweden?” The answer is yes, electronic signatures are fully legal under Swedish law.

As long as both parties are in agreement, a contract cannot be deemed invalid for not having a hand-signed signature. In virtually every business use case, eSignatures are court-admissible and enforceable.

That said, in the case of a legal dispute, participating parties may be required to provide evidence of the agreement to the court. Using a secure eSignature tool like Dropbox Sign makes it easy to provide proof of a signed agreement.

The better you understand eSignature laws in the countries where you’re conducting business, the more confidently you can create and sign secure agreements. Let’s answer some of the questions you might have if you’re doing business in Sweden or with Swedish partners.

The History of Electronic Signature Laws in Sweden

Today, Sweden follows the guidelines set in place by the EU’s eIDAS regulation. However, electronic signature laws were first implemented in Sweden in 2000.

Not familiar with eIDAS or the evolution of Swedish eSignature laws? Here’s a quick history lesson.

The Electronic Signature Directive 1999/93/EC

In 1999, the European Parliament issued the Electronic Signature Directive 1999/93/EC. The goal was to regulate eSignatures across the EU by providing guidelines for usage for all member states. This directive introduced the concept of certificates for more advanced eSignatures, which were required in certain use cases.

The purpose of the 1999 directive was to streamline eSignature rules across the EU, but individual countries were responsible for creating their own laws in accordance with the guidelines. This resulted in disjointed eSignature laws between countries, which meant it was still challenging to conduct cross-border transactions.

Additionally, the regulations grew outdated in light of the rapid technological advancements that took place throughout the 2000s. Fifteen years after the directive was first introduced, the EU Parliament rolled out new regulatory guidelines for eSignatures: eIDAS.

Regulation No. 910/2014 on Electronic Identification and Trust Services for Electronic Transactions in the Internal Market

In 2014, the European Parliament introduced Regulation No. 910/2014 on Electronic Identification and Trust Services for Electronic Transactions in the Internal Market — or, eIDAS.

eIDAS was, and is, a new legal framework that replaced the Electronic Signature Directive 1999/93/EC and stimulated cross-border commerce between EU members and on an international level.

Today, Sweden’s eSignature laws (along with those of the rest of the EU’s 27 member states) follow eIDAS regulations.

What Does eIDAS Mean for Your Business?

Illustration of the letter "A", a scanner, and a checkbox

Among the benefits introduced by eIDAS, the guidelines standardized eSignature usage across the EU. Today, every EU member state adheres to the same regulations, which means an electronic signature that holds up in Sweden will also be legally recognized in other European countries. Put simply, eIDAS regulations have made it easier for businesses to sign electronic documents in Europe.

One of the most important aspects of eIDAS is that it supports the concept of technology neutrality. This ensures that eSignatures are nearly always considered equal to wet ink signatures, regardless of the technology used to create them, so long as they meet any verifying requirements outlined by the legislator.

Additionally, eIDAS defined three different types of eSignatures. Members of the EU now recognize Standard Electronic Signatures (SES), Advanced Electronic Signatures (AES), and Qualified Electronic Signatures (QES). Each type of eSignature is most appropriate for specific use cases and offers a different level of security. Let’s dive into what that means.

The Three Types of eSignatures Recognized in Sweden and the EU

The first form of eSignature under eIDAS is a Standard Electronic Signature (SES), which can be anything from a typed name on an electronic document to a scanned signature to a ticked box at the end of a consumer agreement.

Under eIDAS, an SES is defined as “electronic data which is associated with other data in electronic form … used by the signatory to sign.”

Since there is generally no additional layer of verification required for an SES, its greatest limitation is the difficulty of proving the signatory’s identity. That said, an SES cannot be rejected on the premise that it is electronic, making it appropriate for many common business agreements.

Use cases for Standard Electronic Signatures include standard business transactions and contracts that don’t require additional verification. For instance, employment agreements, non-disclosure agreements, sales contracts, invoices, short-term leases, and loans can all be completed with an SES.

Next is the Advanced Electronic Signature (AES), which must be linked to identifying data unique to the signatory. This helps to validate the signatory’s identity, which prevents forgery and adds validity to agreements signed via AES.

AES is ideal for legal documents that don’t require a Qualified Electronic Signature.

Speaking of, the Qualified Electronic Signature (QES) is the final type defined by the eIDAS.

A QES has stricter requirements than either an SES or an AES. It must meet the same baseline requirements set for an AES (identifying data linked to the signatory) as well as be verified with a certificate that can only be issued by a government-approved qualified Trust Service Provider.

These extra steps increase security and help validate the identity of the signatory, thereby enabling a QES to be considered the legal equivalent of a wet ink signature in almost all cases.

As to uses, a Qualified Electronic Signature is required for notarized documents, last will and testaments, and certain types of property transfers.

Use the Right eSignature Tool for the Job — No Matter Where

The convenience and reliability of eSignatures make it possible for your business to quickly create agreements with partners and customers all around the globe.

Whether you’re looking to expand your business to reach Sweden, the greater EU, or any other corner of the global market; it’s critical that your contracts and agreements adhere to both local and international eSignature laws. Dropbox Sign’s eSignature platform can help you quickly and securely create documents with international customers and partners.

Start your free trial of Dropbox Sign today to see how easy it is to create secure documents and business agreements from anywhere in the world.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this blog is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Since laws and regulations governing eSignatures may be frequently updated, Dropbox Sign does not guarantee all the information on its site is up-to-date or accurate. If you have legal questions about the content on this site, or about whether Dropbox Sign’s solutions fit your needs, please seek professional legal advice from a licensed attorney in your region.

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