What is a PAdES file?

PAdES is a technical standard for PDF documents and refers specifically to a set of restrictions and extensions for electronic signatures in the format. Essential to the workflow of corporate documents, it allows you to put a unique, secure digital stamp on your work.

In an age where manually signing physical documents is not flexible or efficient enough for many, it’s a big reason why digital PDFs have become the trusted option for numerous individuals and companies around the world.

What does PAdES stand for?

PAdES is an acronym - and stands for PDF Advanced Electronic Signatures. The ‘advanced’ part of the name points to the upgraded security and validation methods it provides for electronic signatures on documents.

History of the PAdES file.

The concept of electronic signatures forms a key part of the history of PDFs, and was first introduced with PDF version 1.3 in 1999. This marked a big leap forward, but there were some issues with interoperability, particularly across borders between countries who may have different standards.

After the Electronic Identification, Authentication and Trust Service (eIDAS) directive was passed to standardise electronic signatures in the European Union and European Single Market, PAdES introduced a number of key features to meet this directive and reduce the risk of interpretational problems.

PAdES signatures are legally binding in the EU and frequently play an important role in sharing and verifying electronic signatures in both a business-to-consumer and business-to-business context.

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What are PAdES files used for?

Identity verification.

One of the key purposes of PAdES files is identification. With PAdES, you can provide a unique electronic signature. This is in turn associated with a digital signing certificate, which shows that the signature is authentic and has not been tampered with.

Document workflow.

In professional settings, PAdES files can be used to maintain a digital paper trail between authors, editors and those who might have overall sign-off or oversight of the document.

Fraud prevention.

As a result of its advanced identification features, PAdES helps prevent fraudsters from creating forged documents. For one thing, the end-user can verify who has created and signed the document. But the files also provide security measures to stop non-authorised users from viewing editing the document in the first place.

It’s worth noting that PAdES signatures can only be used for PDF files. This means that if you work with other documents like DOCX, XLSX or HTML, you’ll need to find an alternative signature format. Of course, you can also easily convert files to the PDF format online, which will then allow you to implement PAdES.

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Advantages of PAdES files.

  • Security. Along with the unique signature, the signing certificate provided with PAdES files adds an extra layer of security for users of the document.
  • Longevity. PAdES files feature Long Term Validation (LTV), which allow signatures to remain accessible even on outdated software. This means that the PDF can be verified at any point in the future, even if the underlying algorithm of the document fails.
  • Accessibility. As you can read PAdES using the simple PDF reader Adobe Acrobat, anyone can use them without the need to purchase additional software.
  • Legally binding. PAdES signatures are legally binding in the EU and USA.

How to open a PAdES file.

The easiest way to open a PAdES file is using Adobe Acrobat. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Open your PDF using Adobe Acrobat
  2. Click the signature panel
  3. Then, view signature information to check the PAdES signature data.

How to create and edit a PAdES file.

To create a PAdES electronic signature, you’ll need to create a digital certificate first. You can do this using Adobe Sign. When you’re ready, follow these simple steps:

  1. Open your PDF in Adobe Acrobat
  2. Click Tools>Forms and Certificates and select Open
  3. Select Digitally Sign from the options menu
  4. Choose your electronic signature and click continue. (If you haven’t got an electronic signature yet, you can select Configure New Digital ID here)
  5. Select Sign.

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How do I create a PAdES signature?

You can create a PAdES signature using Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Sign. You’ll need to upload key details, create a signature and authenticate it before you can apply it to PDF documents.

What’s the difference between PAdES and CAdES?

CAdES is a similar format to PAdES, which can be used to sign non-PDF documents. However, you’ll need specific software and applications to use it routinely. PDF’s versatility and widespread compatibility - not to mention high levels of security - make it a strong option.

What is a PAdES PDF?

A PAdES PDF is a PDF file containing a PAdES electronic signature. This allows users to verify the owners and signatories of certain documents, trace them and make them more secure. It adheres to the Electronic Identification, Authentication and Trust Service (eIDAS) standard.

What is a PAdES certificate?

A PAdES certificate is a signing document used to authenticate a PDF signature. It’s tied uniquely to a given digital identification, which provides an extra layer of security for digital documents.

What’s the difference between PAdES and XAdES?

XAdES is a similar format to PAdES and XAdES. However, instead of using PDFs of binary documents, XAdES operates on XML files.