DFA Ireland Implements new Digital Signature Policy: Embracing the Future of Authentication


Olga Shajaku

In a move to adapt to the digital era, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Ireland has recently announced significant updates to its policies concerning digital documents, certificates, and signatures.

According to the latest policy release from the DFA:

Electronic signatures in Ireland are now regulated by both the Electronic Commerce Act 2000 and the eIDAS Regulation (Regulation 910/2014), ensuring conformity with electronic identification and trust services for transactions within the internal market.

Under the Electronic Commerce Act 2000, an electronic signature is defined as electronic data used to verify the originator, encompassing advanced electronic signatures linked uniquely to the signatory and created under their sole control, ensuring any alterations are detectable.

The eIDAS Regulation further classifies electronic signatures into three categories: simple, advanced, and qualified electronic signatures (QES), each varying in security and verification requirements.

To authenticate electronic signatures, encryption technology is employed to manage digital certificates. However, once an electronic signature is printed, it loses its security features and becomes unverifiable as it no longer exists in electronic form.

Presently, the DFA exclusively accepts physical documents for Apostillisation and does not validate electronic signatures. To Apostille a printed document bearing an electronic signature or seal, it must be accompanied by a notarial certificate verifying the electronic signature, with the Notary Public equipped to receive and authenticate encrypted digital signatures, stating the verification method used in the certificate.

Emphasizing transparency and authentication, the DFA underscores the necessity for notarial certificates to clearly outline the steps taken to authenticate electronic signatures, ensuring compliance with the Apostille Convention requirements.

For more information, please visit the DFA’s official guidelines on (DFA Ireland)​.


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