Using electronic signatures significantly reduces the costs and delays associated with having to print, sign and post documents… and then wait for them to be returned.

Using electronic signatures for as many documents as you can is really simple. Once you start, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner. 

In Australia, the law recognises the electronic signature of a person as effective if three conditions are met. First, the person must use a method to show their identity and their intention to sign. Second, the method of identification must be reliable. Third, the person must provide their consent to signing the document electronically. 

An electronic signature may be a mark made by a person, such as typing their name or inserting a digitised form of a handwritten signature. It may also be a digital signature which is when electronic signature software adds a secure, encrypted and authenticated ‘digital stamp’ when a person electronically signs a document. Using digital signatures offers greater security and for this reason, is the preferred method of signing documents electronically. 

Get started 

Here are our tips to get started. 

Use cloud-based software from a reputable provider. A reputable provider will explain exactly what a person is required to do to meet the legal requirements and will also include a tracking report to show exactly who signed and when. The cloud-based software will allow a person to sign on any device, from any location. 

We’ve looked into their processes and recommend the DocuSign or Adobe Sign cloud-based software for managing the electronic signing process for documents. Both products allow you to upload a document, manage the signing process from any device and assist in having a legally valid, signed document very quickly. They also comply with Australian legal requirements for electronic signatures. 

If you or your client would like to subscribe to DocuSign, please let us know and we can assist with the arrangements. 

There are plenty of other providers and you may like the benefits of their software. However, just check the signing process for yourself to be sure it meets the Australian legal requirements for electronic signatures. 

Follow our guidance or check whether a document can be signed electronically by law. 

The description for each of our automated documents explains how to use the document for it to be legally effective. Some documents can be legally effective without signatures. If signatures are required, we’ll specify whether the document can be signed electronically or whether it needs to be printed and signed with a pen. 

What Can Be Signed Electronically 

In Australia, the law allows most common business agreements to be signed with an electronic signature. These electronically signed documents will have the same legal effect as if the business agreement was printed and signed with a pen. Business agreements that can be signed electronically include: 

  • Letters – Quotes, proposals or estimates of fees or procurement documents 

  • Terms for negotiation or offers – Confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements 

  • Contracts for the sale of goods or services – Consulting agreements 

  • Licence agreements – Employment contracts 

  • Other business agreements that aren’t specifically excluded. 

What Can’t Be Signed Electronically 

There are however some documents that are still required by Australian law to be printed and signed with a pen. These include: 

  • Statutory declarations – Powers of attorney – Deeds 

  • Wills and other estate documents – Certain financial or insurance-related documents 

  • Certain property transaction documents, including for intellectual property 

  • Documents that are required to be registered – Some official government-issued documents 

  • Documents relating to the Corporations Act – Documents that require witnessing 

  • Other documents that are specifically required to be printed and signed with a pen. 

 For more information, see the Australian legal considerations for DocuSign and Adobe Sign

Follow the prompts in the software to upload your document, nominate the signatories and add a message. Then send and watch the progress as the document is signed quickly. 

Using electronic signatures whenever possible is such a simple way to improve the document signing process.  Start now, no excuses.  Simple.