Electronic signature in El Salvador

By: Millie Miranda and Ana Cristina Flores

Given the growing adoption of technology and the increasing use of technological instruments in the day to day, both for individuals and companies, we have known a new way of interacting in the digital world. Among these instruments, we find the use of electronic signatures, which has proven to be a tool of great benefit for international relations in the business world. However, this benefit, in turn, has awakened the need for a legal framework that allows the use of electronic signatures as a legitimate way to sign documents, just as if they were signed on paper, and with the same effects.

As a result of this need, the Electronic Signature Law was born in El Salvador, approved in 2015, whose purpose was to advance in the digitalization of the country and strengthen legal certainty in electronic transactions carried out in the territory, adapting to the dynamism of globalization and new digital trends. Since its approval, the law has undergone several updates and improvements, the most recent being Legislative Decree No. 100, issued on July 20, 2021, by means of which a regulation of the electronic seal, electronic certificate, time stamp, certification services, authentication of websites, among others, was included.

The most significant update of the law occurred during 2018, with the approval of the Regulation of the Electronic Signature Law. This regulation established the procedures for the issuance and use of digital certificates, and defined the responsibilities of certification service providers, which are the entities authorized to issue digital certificates, which in the Salvadoran case is a responsibility mainly entrusted to the Ministry of Economy.

In 2021, Legislative Decree No. 100 was issued, which established the mandatory use of electronic signatures for certain procedures and documents in the public and private sectors. These include the incorporation of companies, the filing of tax returns and the issuance of electronic invoices. This will further boost the digitalization of the Salvadoran economy and improve efficiency in administrative processes.

Legislative Decree No. 100 also establishes the need for public and private entities to implement electronic signature systems for the completion of procedures and issuance of documents, which will implement the reliability, integrity and authenticity of digital certificates, achieving, at the same time, that the procedures for issuance, revocation and renewal of these are secure and reliable.

In this sense, the Electronic Signature Law establishes a legal framework for its use and recognizes its legal validity. This means that electronically signed documents have the same validity as those signed physically on paper. The law also establishes the need for a digital certificate to sign electronically, which provides a high level of security and authenticity in electronic transactions.

In conclusion, the Electronic Signature Law and its reforms represent a significant advance towards the digitalization of the country and the strengthening of legal security in electronic transactions, which, in turn, encourages local companies to trade with foreign countries. The mandatory use of electronic signatures in certain procedures and documents, both in the public and private sectors, will further boost efficiency and security in administrative processes, which is of great benefit to the economy and the public in general.