In the late 90s and early 2000s, several Acts were adopted pertaining to electronic signatures and their legality – one of these being the UETA. The UETA helped pave the way for broader acceptance of electronic signatures in everyday use and ensured that businesses throughout the U.S. could confidently send and receive important digital documents.
What Is the UETA?
The UETA outlines requirements that digital documents must meet to be accepted as legally binding. These requirements are:
Clear Consent to Conduct Business Electronically:
The document must feature an agreement by involved parties to sign electronically. This agreement can be obtained in one of three ways, generally – by UETA Consumer Consent Disclosure, by signer giving consent to utilizing electronic transactions, or by signer not withdrawing stated electronic consent.
Displayed Intent to Sign:
A clear intent to sign must be present on the digital document, such as a signature line or checkbox.
An electronic signature audit must be established that shows how, when, and by whom the signature was made.
Available Record Retention:
Once the document is signed, the record of signing must be available and accessible to all parties involved.
State UETA Acceptance
States choose on an individual basis whether they want to adopt the UETA or not. Currently, 48 U.S. states have adopted the UETA, leaving two states who have chosen to define their own electronic signature laws:
The Electronic Signatures and Records Act governs electronic signatures’ legality in this northern state.
In Illinois, the Electronic Commerce Security Act was designed to outline and manage legally binding electronic signatures.
The state of Washington followed its own locally established Electronic Authentication Act until June of 2020, when it formally adopted the UETA.
What Can and Cannot Be Electronically Signed
While most digital documents can be signed electronically between parties and be considered legally binding, there are several key documents outlined by the UETA that require traditional pen-and-ink signatures:
- Recall notices
- Wills, trusts, and codicils
- Utility cancelation notices
- Family law paperwork, including divorce and adoption
- Court orders, briefs, and documents for official courtroom use
- Rental and primary residence notices
- Hazardous materials documentation
- Health and life insurance cancelation notices
But not to worry, most document types can be signed electronically within legally binding requirements, such as:
- Many legal documents and services
- Government forms
- Loan applications and other financial transactions
- Employment agreements
- Business contracts
- Sales receipts
- Service contracts
- Prescriptions and healthcare documents
- Other binding agreements
What’s the Difference Between UETA and ESIGN?
The UETA and ESIGN Act are frequently confused. While the two Acts go hand-in-hand, they have several fundamental differences. Primarily, the difference between the UETA and ESIGN Act comes down to governance; the UETA is adopted locally by states, whereas the ESIGN Act is federal and applies to all 50 U.S. states.
While ESIGN is a federal law, the UETA would take precedence should the two Acts ever conflict.
How Foxit eSign Helps with UETA Compliance
Foxit eSign helps its customers maintain UETA compliance at all times with the documents they send and receive. We do this by:
Providing an easy-to-use interface that allows you to create documents with clear intent to sign.
Add signature and initial lines, checkboxes, and written explanation and instruction throughout your documents where you see fit.
Giving you electronic certificates with every signed document.
This establishes an easy and traceable method for recording signed digital documents.
Having readily available training and support.
Our customer success team is available when you need us to help with questions and guidance on your documents. Give us a call, schedule a training session, or attend one of our daily webinars.