Singapore has recognized electronic signatures (or “eSignatures”) since 2010, with the passage of The Electronic Transactions Act, Cap 88 (ETA) and the Electronic Transactions (Certification Authority) Regulations 2010. eSignatures are commonly used for all types of transactions in Singapore.
Under Singapore law, a written signature is not required for a valid agreement or contract. Contracts are generally considered valid if legally competent parties reach an agreement, whether they agree verbally, electronically, or using a physical document.
The ETA specifically confirms that contracts cannot be denied enforceability just because they are created electronically. An electronic signature is considered valid if the following conditions are met:
- There must be reliable assurance about the integrity of information in the electronic record from the time it was created;
- The electronic record much be capable of being displayed to a person, when the electronic record is to be provided to that person; and
- The electronic record must comply with the requirements specified by government and public agencies relating to the provision or retention of such records.
Common eSignature use cases
Use cases where electronic signatures are considered appropriate in Singapore include:
- HR documents such as regular employment contracts, NDAs, employee invention agreements, privacy notices, benefit paperwork, and other new employee onboarding documents
- Commercial agreements between corporate entities including purchase orders, invoices, sales agreements, distribution agreements, service agreements, procurement contracts, and NDAs
- Consumer agreements including new retail account opening documents, sales terms, service terms, software licenses, purchase orders, order confirmations, invoices, and user manuals
- Software license agreements
- Intellectual property licenses, including patent copyright, and trademark
- Intangible property transfers, such as assignment of patent or copyright
Use cases where eSignature is not appropriate
Certain use cases are specifically barred from electronic processes or require formal notarization in Singapore, making them incompatible with electronic signature. These include:
- Negotiable instruments, documents of title, bills of exchange, promissory notes, consignment notes, or bills of lading
- Warehouse receipts or any transferable document or instrument that entitles the bearer or beneficiary to claim the delivery of goods or the payment of a sum of money
- The creation, performance, or enforcement of an indenture, declaration of trust, or power of attorney
- Any contract for the sale or other disposition of immovable property, or any interest in such property
- The conveyance of immovable property or the transfer of any interest in immovable property
Technology standards in Singapore
The requirements for electronic signature technology vary significantly between countries. Singapore follows a tiered eSignature model, which recognizes both electronic signatures and secure electronic signatures (the local equivalent of eIDAS’ Qualified Electronic Signature).
A secure electronic signature requires both digital signature technology and certification of the digital certificate provider by a licensed certification authority. There is currently one digital certification authority that is licensed by the government to issue the necessary certifications for secure electronic signatures.
Secure electronic signature is not required to ensure the validity of eSignature on any type of transaction.
The information on this site is for general education and informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide and should not be considered legal advice. Laws pertaining to electronic signatures may change quickly, so Conga cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information on this site. Consult with a licensed attorney for answers to any specific legal questions on this topic.
Last updated: 09/09/2021