Understanding the validity of electronic signatures around the world

In today’s globalised world, most organisations have a presence or at least have business dealings with an organisation in another country. Together with the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating digitalization and the adoption of electronic signatures, many are asking the question if electronic signatures are accepted as legally binding in countries around the world.

The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), the core legal body of the United Nations system in the field of international trade law, established the Model Law on Electronic Commerce (MLEC) in 1996 and Model Law on Electronic Signatures (MLES) in 2001 with the aim to enable and facilitate a common framework for the legal acceptance of electronic signatures internationally.

Till date, the UNCITRAL MLES has been adopted in 36 States: UNCITRAL MLES.

Besides the 36 States, the table below provides a brief overview of the legal acceptance of electronic signatures in ASEAN and some notable countries around the world.

Country Electronic Signature Law / Regulation Year First Enacted Distinction for certificate-based digital signatures? Explicitly mentioned exclusions
United States Electronic Signatures In Global And National Commerce Act (ESIGN ACT)

Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA)

2000 No 1.      wills, codicils, or testamentary trusts

2.      adoption, divorce, or other matters of family law

3.      court orders or notices, or official court documents

4.      cancellation or termination notices relating to utility services, health insurance or life insurance benefits

5.      default, acceleration, repossession, foreclosure, or eviction, or the right to cure notices under a credit agreement or rental agreement of an individual

6.      notice of product recall that risks endangering health or safety

7.      documents required to accompany any transportation or handling of hazardous, toxic or dangerous materials

European Union eIDAS 2014 Yes – “advanced electronic signature”,  “qualified electronic signature” Refer to local law
Australia Electronic Transactions Act 1999 No Refer to local state/territorial law.
South Africa Electronic Communications Act 2002 Yes – “advanced electronic signature” 1.      wills, codicils

2.      contracts for the sale of, rights in, and long-term leases of immovable property

3.      bills of exchange

China Electronic Signature Law 2004 Yes – “reliable electronic signature” 1.      documents relating to such personal relations as marriage, adoption and succession

2.      documents relating to the transfer of the rights and interests residing in such real estate as land and houses

3.      documents relating to termination of such public utility services

Hong Kong Electronic Transactions Ordinance 2000 Yes – “digital signature” 1.      wills, codicils, trusts, power of attorney

2.      any instrument which is required to be stamped or endorsed under the Stamp Duty Ordinance (Cap. 117)

3.      government conditions of grant and Government leases

4.      any deed, conveyance or other document or instrument in writing, judgments, and lis pendens referred to in the Land Registration Ordinance (Cap. 128)

5.      any assignment, mortgage or legal charge within the meaning of the Conveyancing and Property Ordinance (Cap. 219) or any other contract relating to or effecting the disposition of immovable property or an interest in immovable property

6.      documents effecting a floating charge referred to in section 2A of the Land Registration Ordinance (Cap. 128)

7.      oaths and affidavits

8.      statutory declaration

9.      judgements or court orders

10.   warrants issued by a court or a magistrate

11.   negotiable instruments

India Information Technology Act 2000 Yes – “secure electronic signature” 1.      negotiable instrument (other than a cheque)

2.      wills, trusts, power of attorney

3.      contracts for the sale or conveyance of immovable property

Singapore Electronic Transactions Act 1998 Yes – “secure electronic signature” 1.      wills, indenture, trusts, power of attorney

2.      contracts regarding the sale or disposition of immovable property

3.      conveyance of or transfer of any interest in immovable property

Malaysia Electronic Commerce Act 2006 Yes – “digital signature” DSA 1997 1.      wills, codicils, trusts, power of attorney

2.      negotiable instruments

Cambodia Law on Electronic Commerce 2019 Yes – Sub-Decree No.246 on Digital Signatures 2017 1.      wills, codicils, power of attorney

2.      contracts regarding the sale, transfer or disposition of immovable property

Brunei Electronic Transactions Act 2008 Yes – “secure electronic signature” 1.      legal instruments

2.      wills, trusts, power of attorney

3.      negotiable instruments

4.      contracts regarding the sale, transfer or disposition and titles of immovable property

Indonesia Electronic Information and Transactions

Government Regulation 71 of 2019 on the Application of Electronic Systems and Transactions

2008 Yes – “’certified’ electronic signatures” 1.      certificates that under Laws must be made in writing form, such as tradeable securities or exchanges

2.      certificates together with their papers that under Laws must be made in notary deed or deed made by land conveyances

Laos Law on Electronic Transactions

Law on Electronic Signature



Yes – “basic digital signature”, “secure digital signature” 1.      wills, power of attorney

2.      birth, marriage, divorce and death certificates

3.      contracts regarding the sale, transfer or disposition and titles of immovable property

4.      petitions

5.      bills of exchange, bills of lading, warehouse receipts or any document that entitles the bearer or beneficiary to claim the delivery of goods

Myanmar Electronic Transactions Law 2004 No – electronic signature is defined as a digital signature 1.      wills, trust, power of attorney

2.      negotiable instruments

3.      title documents

4.      legal instruments

Philippines Electronic Commerce Act 2000 Yes – “digital signature” – REE 2001 No specified restrictions
Thailand Electronic Transactions Act 2001 Yes – “reliable electronic signature” 1.      Civil and commercial transactions, e.g. wills, marriage registration, child registration etc.
Vietnam Law on E-Transactions 2005 Yes – “digital signature” Decree 130/2018/ND-CP 1.      certificates of land use rights, house ownership right and immovable properties

2.      inheritance documents, marriage certificates, divorce decisions, birth certificates, death certificates

3.      bills of exchange and other valuable papers

Netrust is a Singapore accredited Certification Authority providing digital identity that meets the requirements for a “secure electronic signature” under Singapore’s Electronic Transactions Act. Netrust offers nSign, a digital signing solution suite, to cater to the different signing requirements. Contact us for a consultation.

Follow us on LinkedIn for the latest happenings/updates.

DISCLAIMER: The information on this page is solely for information purposes only and is not intended to serve as legal advice. It is recommended that you seek guidance from your legal counsel with regard to the law applying specifically to you. Netrust does not accept liability for the contents of these materials or for third parties materials.