E-signature Legality in United States
Electronic signatures are valid in the United States, under the federal Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (“ESIGN”). State law versions of the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (“UETA”) govern e-signatures as they apply to the different states. U.S. territories also have their own e-signature laws. The same applies to Puerto Rico. Local laws may also apply.
The ESIGN act sets forth a general rule of validity for electronic records and signatures for transactions in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce. It allows for the use of electronic records to satisfy any statute, regulation, or rule of law requiring that such information be provided in writing, if the consumer has affirmatively consented to such use and has not withdrawn such consent.
The text of the UETA defines a “transaction” as an action or set of actions occurring between two or more persons relating to the conduct of business, commercial, or governmental affairs. For these purposes, a “person” includes not just people but companies and other entities.
Virtually any type of document that can be signed by hand may also be signed electronically in the U.S. and its territories, but there are exceptions, including but not limited to documents that must be signed before a notary public. Consult your attorney before reaching any conclusions about whether the document you want to sign may be signed electronically.