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Deciphering the differences between Qualified Electronic Signature (QES) and Advanced Electronic Signature (AES)

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Trustcloud | Differences between Qualified Electronic Signature (QES) and Advanced Electronic Signature (AES)

The electronic signature provides a secure and legally binding way to authenticate documents and online transactions. With the increasing adoption of digital technologies, various countries have updated their regulations in this regard. In Europe, the eIDAS regulation categorizes electronic signatures into three types with unique characteristics: SES, AES, and QES.


he eIDAS regulation (Electronic Identification and Trust Services) is the legal framework of the European Union that sets out the requirements for electronic signatures and other related services. This regulation aims to establish a common framework for electronic identification and trust services throughout the EU. 

The eIDAS regulation sets the standards for qualified electronic signatures and ensures that they are legally binding in all EU member states. It also provides guidelines on how to verify the authenticity of an electronic signature and how to use it in different legal contexts. 

It is important to note that the eIDAS regulation applies to electronic signatures used in the EU. Outside the EU, electronic signatures may be subject to different regulations and legal requirements. 

Types of electronic signatures according to the eIDAS regulation  

  • Simple Electronic Signature (SES): At the fundamental level, we encounter the Simple Electronic Signature, a broad term encompassing any electronically associated data with a signer. Even a handwritten name at the end of an email can be considered a Simple Electronic Signature, representing the most basic form of digital authentication. This category also includes signatures made with a mouse or on a touchscreen. Naturally, it does not possess the same level of security and legality as advanced or qualified electronic signatures, making it suitable for low-risk situations.
  • Advanced Electronic Signature (AES): The AES not only functions as a signature but is uniquely linked and identifies the signer. It is created to allow the signer to retain control, ensuring a secure and reliable digital authentication process. Using technologies like Public Key Infrastructure (PKI), this type adds an extra layer of security by linking the signature to the document, enabling detection of any subsequent changes in the data.It is a suitable signature for moderate-risk scenarios such as sales and employment contracts, leases, etc., and may be optionally backed by a digital certificate. Trusted Service Providers can issue this type of signature, although they are not the only ones.
  • Qualified Electronic Signature (QES): A QES stands out for being created using a Qualified Signature Creation Device (QSCD). Additionally, it relies on a qualified certificate for electronic signatures, elevating its status as the most secure and legally binding form of electronic authentication. The QES not only complies with the rigorous requirements of the eIDAS Regulation but also sets a high standard for trust and reliability in digital transactions. 

Discover TrustCloud QES, our identity verification and digital certificate creation solution for qualified signing. 

Qualified Electronic Signature (QES): the safest and most adaptable signature 

Let’s delve into the characteristics of the Qualified or Recognized Electronic Signature. Its official definition states that it is an Advanced Electronic Signature (AES) that uses a Qualified Secure Signature Creation Device (QSCD) and is based on a qualified certificate. 

This category of electronic signature allows the signing of documents with high-security guarantees, being recognized and legally valid throughout the European Union, at the same level as a handwritten signature. 

However, the QES imposes specific requirements: 

  • Requires dedicated hardware, such as a card reader or mobile phone, that only the user can use. 
  • Requires the intervention of a Qualified Trust Service Provider (QTSP), such as TrustCloud, for the actual signing process. 
  • Adds a certificate-based digital identification, issued by the QTSP. 

Within the EU, there are certain differences in the application of electronic signatures. For example, in Belgium, QES is mandatory from a legal standpoint, while in other territories, advanced electronic signatures are accepted as legally binding. 

What are the main uses of Qualified Electronic Signatures? 

In sectors with a high risk of fraud or scams, from financial institutions to telecommunications, insurers, and military and government environments, having a secure signature system is essential. 

These industries aim to protect the identification and personal information of customers and users. As online transactions continue to expand and gain relevance, it is more important than ever to invest in a secure electronic signature solution. 

QES can be used in a variety of circumstances, strengthening complex processes such as the signing of contracts or loans with two or three parties involved from different locations. It is also applicable in other very common use cases such as employment contracts, corporate documents, tax declarations and requests, credit applications, and notarial procedures such as wills and inheritances. 

TrustCloud QES provides Qualified Electronic Signatures with maximum confidence and legal compliance 

TrustCloud QES offers a reliable and secure qualified electronic signature solution that complies with the legal requirements established in the eIDAS regulation. Our solution ensures that electronic signatures are secure and encrypted and validated through identity validation processes. This level of authentication is crucial for sensitive transactions, legal documents, and any situation where trust and integrity are paramount, as described above. 

TrustCloud QES plays a crucial role in fostering trust in digital transactions, ensuring legislative compliance, and paving the way for a seamless digital future. 

Request a free demo of TrustCloud QES now 

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