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Question

What is a certificate for electronic seals?

Answer

When sealing a document, a pair of keys might be needed (i.e. when the seal relies on the use of public-key infrastructure), namely a ‘public key’ and a ‘private key’. The public key can be publicly shared while the private key shall be securely stored. Especially, the private key is used by the creator of the seal to seal a document while the public key is used by anyone verifying that it is actually the private key of the creator of the seal that has been used to seal the document.

A certificate for electronic seals, issued by a Certificate Authority (CA), is an electronic attestation that links electronic seal validation data to a legal person and confirms the name of that person. This way, the certificate, usually linked to the sealed document, can be used to verify the identity of the creator of the seal and whether the document has been sealed using the corresponding private key.

Like qualified certificates for electronic signatures, qualified certificates for electronic seals, by following stricter requirements laid down in the eIDAS Regulation, provide, for instance, higher guarantees regarding the identity of the creator of the seal and therefore higher legal certainty regarding the created electronic seals. Especially, qualified certificates are provided by qualified trust service providers (QTSP) which have been audited as such and granted a qualified status by a national competent authority, as reflected in the national Trusted List. Those lists, and therefore QTSPs listed in it, can be browsed in a user-friendly way using the Trusted List Browser (the actual content of these Trusted Lists is managed and published by each Member State and ‘Trusted List Browser’ is “merely” browsing these Trusted Lists).

Usually, providers of qualified certificates for electronic seals deliver the corresponding private key on a qualified seal creation device (QSCD).


For more info, visit our eSignature dedicated FAQ page: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-building-blocks/wikis/x/j4BrBg