Secure electronic signature - what is it and how to use it?

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An electronic signature is a tool that enables the identification of entities sending documents electronically. This method is so safe that it is used by both tax offices and the Social Insurance Institution. Check how to use the electronic signature correctly!

Electronic signature - legal conditions

Electronic data, which, together with other data with which they have been combined, form a whole that allows for unequivocal identification of the person who submitted it.

A secure electronic signature is a signature that:

  • is assigned to one person only,

  • is made on the basis of secure devices that are subject only to the person who signs,

  • it is linked to the data which any change is recognized.

Safe electronic signature and electronic signature

There are two types of signatures:

  • secure electronic signature,

  • simple electronic signature.

An ordinary electronic signature does not have a qualified certificate and is used mainly for the exchange of e-mails. It is not a secure enough system to be used for the transmission of higher importance documents, such as writings or tax returns.

A secure electronic signature is confirmed with a qualified certificate. It is much safer - offices use it to send documents. The certification authority for the secure electronic signature infrastructure is the National Certification Center.

Electronic signature and legal force

Documents, including declarations and invoices, bearing a secure electronic signature have the same power as documents signed by hand,

Where is the electronic signature used?

The electronic signature is used in particular for:

  • submitting ZUS e-declarations,

  • submitting e-tax returns,

  • signing contracts,

  • signing electronic invoices,

  • submitting bids at tenders,

  • submitting documents to offices, i.e. GIODO, CEIDG, KRS, public administration offices or patent offices.

Ways of acquiring a secure electronic signature

An ordinary electronic signature can be purchased even for free, while a secure electronic signature is issued after an appropriate payment. A secure electronic signature can be purchased at:

  • Krajowa Izba Rozliczeniowa (Szafir),

  • Polish Security Printing Works (Sigillum),

  • Unizeto Technologies (CERTUM),

  • Enigma S.O.I. (PEM-HEART),

  • EuroCert.

Electronic signature in practice

After signing the contract and obtaining the certificate, the secure electronic signature must be collected in person to confirm the correctness of the data. The buyer will additionally receive tools for creating a signature, i.e .:

  • a cryptographic card (with a private key written on it) with a reader or token,

  • software that enables the card to cooperate with a computer through a reader or a token.

The signature is used by instructing the computer to submit an electronic signature. In practice, this leads to the calculation of the so-called the abbreviation of the signed document, which is strictly defined for a specific type of document. The next step is to use the received software that encrypts it with a private signature key, and then the document with a secure electronic signature is sent to the addressee.

Is an electronic signature necessary?

Submitting electronic forms to offices is gaining popularity among entrepreneurs. This saves time. It is not necessary to have an electronic signature when submitting annual tax returns electronically. In such a situation, the security is provided by the income shown in the tax return for the previous year.

Electronic sending of forms without an electronic signature is also possible when submitting the declaration to ZUS. In this case, however, it is necessary to set up a trusted profile on the ePUAP platform and a one-time visit to the facility to confirm the identity of the person whose trusted profile has been granted.

The costs associated with the purchase of a secure electronic signature may be relatively high for micro-entrepreneurs, therefore, before making a decision to buy it, you should consider whether it is really necessary.