What is the difference between the UETA and the E-Sign Act?

A woman uses her tablet to look up the differences between UETA vs the E-Sign Act.

There are two acts designed to validate electronic signatures: the E-Sign Act and UETA. While there are many similarities, there are also a few key differences. Learn more about e-signature laws and the similarities and differences between the UETA and the E-Sign Act.

What is the UETA and E-Sign Act in a nutshell?

The two primary electronic signature acts in the United States are the E-Sign Act and the Uniform Electronic Transaction Act (UETA). Both UETA and the E-Sign Act play crucial roles in setting the rules for electronic signatures in the United States, making things secure and consistent for businesses and individuals. Let’s go over the specifics and differences between UETA and E-sign to show how they work together.

What is UETA (Uniform Electronic Transactions Act)?

So, what is the UETA (Uniform Electronic Transactions Act)? The Uniform Electronic Transaction Act (UETA) is a U.S. law that was drafted to establish a framework for the use of electronic signatures and records in commerce across state borders. Enacted in 1999, UETA has been adopted by most states, promoting consistency and legal certainty in electronic transactions.

UETA’s primary purpose is to ensure that electronic signatures and records are granted the same legal status as their traditional, paper-based counterparts. Under UETA, electronic signatures are recognized as valid as long as certain criteria are met. These criteria include the intent to sign, consent to conduct business electronically, association of the signature with the record, and proper record retention.

UETA, along with the E-Sign Act, contributes to the legal foundation supporting the use of electronic signatures in a variety of transactions, from contracts to government documents.

What is the E-Sign Act?

The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (E-Sign Act) is a federal law enacted in 2000. Its objective is to facilitate the use of electronic signatures in interstate and foreign commerce.

The E-Sign Act complements UETA by providing a federal standard for the validity and legal effect of electronic signatures and records. Its goal is to remove barriers to electronic commerce by allowing electronic signatures to be treated with the same legal significance as traditional signatures.

Similar to UETA, the E-Sign Act sets essential requirements for the validity of electronic signatures. These include the intent to sign, consent to conduct business electronically, association of the signature with the record, and proper record retention. The E-Sign Act applies to a wide variety of transactions and promotes the acceptance of electronic signatures on a national level.

Similarities between E-Sign and UETA.

They’re both designed to recognize e-signatures as valid and enforceable under U.S. law on any forms, contracts, and government documents.

Both acts outline four requirements for an e-signature to be valid:

  1. Intent to sign. E-signatures are only valid if both parties intend to sign.
  2. Consent to do business electronically. Both parties acknowledge that they agree to do business electronically, either explicitly or implicitly.
  3. Association of signature with the record. E-signatures must leave a mark (either graphical or textual) on the document that can be associated with the record.
  4. Record retention. Both parties must be able to access and save the signed document.

Difference between UETA and E-Sign Act.

The main difference between the E-Sign Act and UETA is the scope. Congress passed the UETA in 1999. It implies that circumstances and context define the legal validity of an e-signature. States could adopt the UETA as they saw fit. So far, 47 states have adopted UETA, while the remaining three passed their own e-signature laws.

The E-Sign Act was passed in 2000 as a federal regulation to resolve disputes between different state laws. It says that each state may accept or reject guidelines in the UETA, but it must have some laws that validate electronic signatures. In other words, no state can outright deny the authenticity of e-signatures, but they don’t necessarily have to use the UETA in its entirety.

If you need to apply e-signatures that fall under both the E-Sign Act and UETA, try verified software like Adobe Acrobat. Discover what more you can do with Acrobat to easily add legal signatures to documents with just the click of a button.