Electronic Signature Laws & Regulations - Australia


Electronic signatures, also known as e-signatures, are popular in Australia. They are used regularly for business transactions. The Australian law regarding electronic transactions is based on the principle that electronic signatures can be just as easily enforceable as traditional "wet signatures" and are equally admissible, provided they comply with three conditions. They must meet the following conditions:

  • Identify the signatory, and indicate that they intend to sign the transaction or document.
  • You must be as reliable as possible for the transaction or document that is to be signed. Or, prove in fact by using other evidence or your own to identify the signatory.
  • Ensure that the signer consents to the signing method.

The federal nature of Australia's government makes electronic transactions difficult in Australia. The Commonwealth (i.e. national) level, the key legislation is the Electronic Transactions (ET) Act 1999. At the Commonwealth (i.e. national) level, the main legislation is the Electronic Transactions Act 1999. This applies to transactions governed under Commonwealth laws. The Electronic Transactions Regulations2000 then set out which transactions are exempted from the Act and Commonwealth laws. They also require a traditional signature. Each State and Territory of Australia has its own electronic transaction legislation. These regulations are broadly similar to the Commonwealth ET Act, but have some exceptions that only apply to transactions that are governed by the laws in the relevant State or Territory.

Multiple Australian courts have confirmed the validity of electronic documents. The threshold for "reliability" is however fairly low. The courts have upheld the use a stylus, finger or finger on a trackpad to create a signature that is similar to one sent via fax. When doing business in other jurisdictions where free e signature validity might be evaluated differently or for compliance requirements specific, it is important to consider using certificate-based digital signatures such as cloud signatures as part of your workflow risk management strategy.

What an E-signature?

E-signatures or electronic signatures are a collection of various methods to attach identity to documents. Electronic signatures can be as simple as a photo of a handwritten signature or as complex as a digital signature certificate made via PKI. E-signing has enjoyed a huge rise in popularity over the past few years. We may live in a paperless world. Documents must be signed. E-signing is a modern, efficient, and convenient way to do this.

Many businesses, consumers, and government agencies have adopted electronic signatures. Depending on the purpose, different types of electronic signatures can be used. Each type provides a different level of authentication for the identity attached. In many jurisdictions, electronic signatures are equivalent to handwritten signature documents.

Although "electronic signatures" and "digital signatures" are often used interchangeably in casual usage, they are different. A digital signature is a secure electronic signature that uses a cryptographic algorithm to authenticate a document.

What is the Difference Between an Electronic Signature (eSignature) and a Digital Certificate (DCE)?

Digital certificates authenticate the requestor's identity using PKI certificates issued by a trusted certificate authority like eSignly. This authentication method is the best for protecting electronic documents. This authentication method directly links the identity to the document and guarantees its legitimacy.

Digital signatures comply with the strictest regulatory requirements. These include the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act of the United States (UETA), the United States Electronic Signatures in Global Commerce Act (ESIGN Act), and other applicable international laws like eIDAS.

Alternative methods of electronic signatures are less secure. These can include email addresses, phone numbers, or other contact information. Many electronic signature laws are in use all over the world. There are also different requirements for verifying the identity of signers.

Electronic Signatures

There are three main types of electronic signatures. These differences are explained in the 2016 electronic Identification, Authentication, and Trust Services regulation (eIDAS) adopted by the European Union. These regulations also apply to the United States.

This regulation provides the legal framework for electronic identification and signature processes, seals, documents, and other matters throughout the EU. These signatures are a common part of the internet user experience and are often integrated into business processes.

Simple Electronic Signs

These are the simplest, most general types of electronic signatures. eIDAS defines them as "data in an electronic format attached or logically connected with other data in an electronic form and which the signatory uses for signature." They do not require identity verification. The person signing the document must trust them.

In certain cases, electronic signatures can be legally binding. You will, however, need higher qualifications to sign many documents.

Advanced Electronic Signatures

These signatures cannot be compared to electronic signatures. These signatures require identity verification. These signatures are made using certificates that uniquely identify the signer. These signatures are typically transmitted via a specific delivery service that can provide audit trails or other evidence regarding the data transmitted. These signatures are typically certified by a Certificate Authority.

Qualified Electronic Signatures (QES)

These electronic signatures can be used the same way as advanced ones. Still, they must meet additional requirements set forth by the eIDAS regulations. Qualified Electronic Signatures (QES) must be based upon valid technological means that have been issued public keys. A certificate authority, an audited entity, must be able to identify the signatory before signing. Face-to-face identification can be done via video chat or in person.

Australia Changes Law During COVID

In March 2020, a temporary version of the ETA law was passed. This law allowed corporate legal documents to be electronically filed and witnessed remotely. Signers weren't required to sign the same document. For certain transactions, video witnessing capabilities were also available. The number of exemptions for e-signature was decreased from 147 to just 93. This allows government transactions like child support and passports. The Australian government is also making efforts to make many government services online, and to reduce exemptions.

Transition Period

The temporary ETA law was repealed in March 2021. The government was encouraged by business groups to reinstate the law and make the permanent ETA law permanent. However, the measure was blocked in Congress. It was a slow, inefficient, and wasteful process to sign contracts legally. Several digital agreements that were valid for five months under an expired ETA law could have been invalidated due to local laws. In August 2021, another temporary measure was passed to restore the status quo 2021 ETA of electronic signatures. However, it did not make the law permanent.

Keeping up with Digital Demand

It was a sudden electronic shift from the pandemic era to Zoom conferencing and working on the cloud. Even five years ago, the network functionality and capacity would have been much less robust, efficient, and more error-prone than Windows 95. The adaptation went smoothly and almost 40% of Australian workers could work remotely by April 2022. Internet usage soared in quiet areas where once-thriving business parks were abandoned. The adoption of digital-solutions took off.

The global e-signature market has seen a $3B increase in growth by 2021 and is expected to grow to $35B by 2029. The market has now stabilized and caught up to current demand after such rapid growth. In the next three-years, the market is expected to triple.

Although eSignature laws are improving, there is still a hurdle to widespread adoption of digital contracting. This is because many people don't know about the capabilities and potential applications of eSignature in their everyday lives. It's difficult to understand and is not easy for many people to grasp because of the complexity and variations in federal and local laws. Most digital activity is done by businesses. Digital agreements are not something most consumers do. Instead, they are introduced to e-signatures by companies to facilitate a transaction such as when they buy a house.

Electronic Signatures Validity in Australia

Although electronic signatures are subject to different laws and regulations in each country, they are legal and enforceable in Australia. There are still some myths about electronic signatures. Some people don't know that they can be used to prove one's intention to be bound by an enforceable agreement.

E-signatures are governed by Australian laws. The Electronic Transactions Act 2000 (Cth), (ETA) applies to transactions governed under Commonwealth laws. The Electronic Transactions Regulations 2000 also lists which transactions and Commonwealth laws are exempted from the ETA in part or whole.

The Australian states and territories are responsible for the execution of the governing laws. However, some categories are exempt. Some exemptions are the execution of wills, deeds, powers and legal proceedings.

Related Regulations & Legal Requirements

In order to protect consumers and businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted legislative and regulatory changes. In May 2020, for example, the Australian government allowed corporate contracts to be executed via e-signatures through the Corporations Coronavirus Economic Response (No.3) 2020 (Cth).

The country also attempted to amend the 2001 Corporations Act, as well as other relevant regulations and laws to allow electronic signatures to be used when executing legal documents. It also enabled witnessing via videoconferencing or another secure technology means.

In response to COVID-19, temporary laws were also enacted. These laws alter the legal status of electronic signatures on specific documents and electronic communications. Queensland, for example, has passed the Justice Legislation COVID-19 Emergency Response-Documents and Oaths Regulation 2020 (Qld), allowing electronic witnessing and deed signing.

Important Considerations when using E-Signature Technology

Many software tools allow Australian companies to comply with the most current digital signature regulations. Businesses of all sizes can offer a positive experience online to customers using e-signature technology. Loan Market, an important player in Australia's mortgage lending and real estate markets, has integrated electronic signatures with its CRM platform to digitally transform its offerings. Loan Market, a Sydney-based broker, offers clients a paperless experience. This saves both time and money. It was difficult to obtain documents signed using a wet signature before e-signature. This was especially true for those who lived far from their broker.

Here are some tips to help you choose the right digital signature provider for your business if you're thinking about e-signature technology.

  • Identity assurance: The vendor should provide a variety of identity verification and authentication options to verify the identity of the signatory - regardless of whether they are known to the company.
  • Document security and Tamper-proofing: The document must be signed digitally. To confirm the integrity and validity of the eSigned document, look for vendors that offer one-click signatures and document verification.
  • Audit trails: You will be able to view an audit trail that covers the entire agreement process. This includes all e-signature actions, such as who signed what, when and where, as well as identity verification and authentication events.
  • Data Residency: Make sure that the vendor is able to protect your data, and comply with data protection and local laws.

eSignly free esign solutions ensure that your business is compliant with Australian digital signature laws. All of our solutions comply with all major e-signature regulations worldwide, including the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act, (UETA), and Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act, (ESIGN). It will allow you to complete business transactions digitally while still providing a great customer experience.

Why Businesses are Moving to Electronic Signatures?

You can save time by using an electronic signature. An electronic signature is a modern way to confirm the identity of signatory and makes daily life easier.

Electronic signatures can be used in PDF documents such as orders or contracts. You can also sign other types documents, such as e-mails and data files electronically.


eSignly offers tools that enable electronic signatures to be created. They can be trusted. They assure the authenticity, integrity, and indisputableness of the signed information.

An electronic signature that is sophisticated and secure provides security for both parties.

  • The signatory of the document
  • After signing the information, no one has altered it.
  • The signatory cannot deny they signed the document or claim any modifications were made after signing it.

Independent of Location and Time

Electronic signatures are available from anywhere and at any time. Remote work is becoming more popular. Remote signing is becoming more common.

It is essential to maintain location independence when signing the same document. Signatories do not have to meet at the same place. Signatories can sign the document anywhere they are.

Speedy and Economical

Electronic signatures are almost as quick as paper signing, but it saves time in handling the document.

It is easier to manage affairs when documents are not printed or scanned and sent by post.

You can save the document in a place where it is easily accessible by the appropriate people.

Sending an electronic document to the recipient takes only a few seconds. You must ensure data security when you send the signed document by email to the recipient. If necessary, use encrypted email.

Less Paper

Electronically signed documents can also be processed electronically. It doesn't need to printed so it is not necessary to store it in a physical location. There are many electronic workspace options that can be used to store the document safely for a long time. Reduced paper consumption is an eco-friendly option.

Text is Machine-Readable

The document can be read by machine because it doesn't need to be scanned in between signatures. This can be useful when documents are archived and processed so that searches can be targeted at the contents of the documents.

Sign Across Borders

When documents need to be shared across borders, electronic signatures can also be fast and efficient. This is especially true when it comes to tendering or contracts. The EU's eIDAS Regulation governs electronic signatures.

Qualified electronic signatures, or QES, are valid throughout the European Union. It is legally binding and does not require additional evidence.

Many Applications

Common uses include electronic signatures for PDF documents, such as contracts and decisions. Electronic signatures can be used in many situations, including email messages and data files (e.g., Packages for installation and updates to applications, security of online traffic, or blockchain.

How Electronic Signatures Optimize Operational Workflows?

We know that HR departments spend hours on onboarding and recruiting, property managers manage rental agreements and maintenance requests, while healthcare staff are busy filling out patient intake forms and licensing physician licenses - just to give a few examples.

It's vital to streamline your document processes to allow you to collaborate with others, give great customer experiences, and remain productive, whether you prefer working in-person, remotely or in a hybrid environment.

Many organizations have begun to incorporate eSignature solutions in their business workflows. This allows them to digitally transform their processes, increase efficiency, and satisfy customer needs wherever they are.

eSignature solutions enable organizations and teams improve the effectiveness of business processes. This includes legal teams creating NDAs, banks automating new accounts applications, and nonprofits streamlining volunteer forms.

eSignature workflows can reduce document lifecycles, speed document completion, eliminate manual errors, and automate repetitive tasks. Are you ready for greater productivity and digital workflow improvements?

How to Optimize your eSignature Document Workflows Using eSignly?

  1. Create and automate document workflows: Sign roles and orders make data collection and signature easy. Send signed documents automatically to the specified recipients. You can also store completed documents in a cloud.
  2. Track documents: Increase visibility with automated email notifications and an audit trail that is court-admissible.
  3. Update records automatically with data-binding: eSignly can be integrated with your CRM to update customer records using eSignly push-pull technology.
  4. Make a reusable template: Work with others to create templates from the most commonly used documents. To save time, add fillable fields to your documents and send them individually or in bulk.
  5. Protect your documents: eSignly has industry-leading security standards and features such as encryption, two-factor authentication and password protection.

Top Usecases for Digital Signatures

Managers and owners of small and medium-sized businesses often have multiple responsibilities, such as sales, marketing, finance, legal and procurement.

There are many documents that must be signed to keep your business running. Most likely, you deal with customer forms and sales contracts, vendor and supplier agreements and non-disclosure forms.

It adds up, takes too much time, and can slow down the business.

The electronic signature technology allows you to remotely obtain authorizations for signatures. When capturing electronic signatures on business agreements, you can reduce risks, save money, and provide a better customer experience.

You can find a great place to start your business or additional uses to improve efficiency. Here are some of the powerful ways small businesses use eSignly.

Sales Contracts

Sales contracts are often the most important documents for a company. ESignly eSignature users are able to execute sales agreements online. This allows them to close deals quicker, in hours and minutes rather than weeks and days.

Complete visibility is maintained into the sales agreement signing process. This allows for many sales processes to automate and integrate with CRM systems like Salesforce.

Purchase Orders

A purchase order is a form of agreement that can be short and simple or long. It lists the pricing terms, scope, shipping costs, intellectual property, and any other binding aspects. Practically, the seller and buyer want to be able to execute the contract quickly. This is possible with ESignly eSignature. The process is protected by multiple levels encryption security, just like all eSignature documents.

Vendor/Supplier Agreements

Grown businesses depend on strong relationships with vendors and suppliers. They often spend a lot of time managing these relationships and coordination of procurement activities. Small business owners are switching from paper-driven workflows to digital ones in order to improve their procurement. This allows for faster procure-to pay and reduces errors as well as the associated costs. Compliance with company purchasing policies is easy.


Change is constant for project-based businesses such as architecture, construction, and web design. Clients can make small changes to what was agreed upon or suddenly change their mind. A signed change order must be obtained in order to receive compensation for any additional hours.

ESignly eSignature simplifies the process and allows a company to quickly send the change order after the request has been made. The electronic signature allows the firm to avoid project delays and maintain a paper trail that can be accessed from anywhere, at any time, in the cloud.

New Customer Forms

Electronic signatures are a time- and cost-saving tool for customers who need to complete forms or other paperwork in order to do business with your company. Multiple versions of paper-based consent forms, liability waivers, and policy updates require multiple copies. It is expensive to print customer forms and takes time to process, track, file, and read them. This can lead to a poor customer experience.

ESignly eSignature allows electronic forms to be created and shared electronically. This will help solve the problems and provide a better customer experience. Small businesses can either create an easy-to share online link that customers can review and then agree to, or they can sign on-site at ESignly with their own devices.

Businesses that provide custom-made goods such as a printing shop or furniture maker, eSignature is of particular importance. Final-approval documents are crucial for these businesses. Free signature app allows you to quickly capture approvals and file them.

Real Estate Contracts

Many states and federal regulatory agencies have changed their real estate rules to allow electronic signings for real estate contracts. This is a trend that has been accelerating as the pandemic has intensified.

ESignly eSignature is legally binding and has been used in tens of thousands of real estate transactions. Companies that use ESignly eSignature for real estate transactions and other contracts are more likely to close, have lower revenue, and achieve greater sales efficiency.

Intellectual Property Licensing & Other Legal Agreements

Electronic signatures can be legally binding and have a court-admissible audit trail. This makes them ideal for legal documents such as partnerships, intellectual property licensing, and other agreements. Electronic signatures and records are now able to have the same legal weight and legal effect that handwritten signatures or paper documents due to changes in U.S. regulations and others.

Non-Disclosure Agreements

Non-disclosure agreements are a security measure that allows you to do business with third parties more easily in a competitive market. Traditional pen and paper signature agreements can be inconvenient. They are also unfriendly for customers. ESignly eSignature agreements can be signed by your partners on a laptop or mobile device. This makes them a secure and easy way to protect your private information. You can also work with trusted third parties.

Employee Onboarding

When you hire a new employee, there is a lot of paperwork involved: contact forms, benefits enrollments, automatic deposits for paychecks, and many more. All of these documents can easily be managed securely with ESignly eSignature - documents are electronically signed and filled out. Then, employees can receive their contracts and HR policy information quickly and automatically. The online dashboard allows HR staff to track the status of each HR document and saves them time.

Parental Consent & Age Verification

Entertainment companies, photographers, and gaming companies often target under-18s. This requires parental authorization. ESignly eSignature allows for parental signature from a variety of electronic devices. It can also be integrated with a variety of ID verification software solutions. ESignly allows you to create your own templates and then re-use legacy data from authorization to authorization. Your ESignly templates can be branded to match your company's visual identity.

The Key Takeaway

The Electronic Transactions Act 1999 governs electronic signature laws and regulations in Australia. It provides a legal framework that allows for electronic signatures to be used in commercial transactions. This Act ensures that electronic signatures are valid and can be enforced and encourages electronic commerce to grow in Australia. Businesses must understand and adhere to these laws in order to protect the validity and enforceability their electronic transactions. To keep up with technological advances and changes in business, the Australian government continually updates and modernizes the laws surrounding electronic signatures.

The Australian government has also implemented stringent security measures to ensure the authenticity and reliability electronic signatures. These include the use of trusted third-party certification and the adoption of robust digital signature technology. These measures ensure that electronic signings are reliable and efficient in Australia. The esignature Australia laws and regulations of Australia are a solid foundation that allows for electronic signatures to be used in Australia. Both individuals and businesses can feel confident in their use.