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The use of digital signatures is becoming more commonplace both in the workplace and for personal use.  Digital signing allows organizations to streamline signing and approval processes, eliminate paper and establish an audit trail.

Electronic Signing vs. Digital Signing

Electronic Signing
Digital Signing

The difference between electronic signing and digital signing is not widely understood.

Electronic signing is a functional term.  Electronic signatures are created through multiple options including typed names, scanned images or a “click-wrap” agreement on a web site.  These signatures are not technically bound to a specific individual; therefore, electronic signatures are not easily audited and can be repudiated.  

True digital signing requires that the signer use a credential (such as a digital certificate) that is bound to their identity.  Binding the identity of the signer to the credential that is used for signing creates assurance that the individual who is signing a document really is who they say they are.  When an identity-based credential is used, the signature is considered non-repudiable and is legally binding.

Learn more about the differences between electronic signing and digital signing, where you can also find a white paper, Electronic vs Digital Signing.

IdenTrust Provides Identity-Based Certificates

Obtaining an identity-based credential is similar to the process of applying for a driver’s license or passport.  Registration information is provided via a secure website hosted by IdenTrust.  Paperwork to prove your business affiliation may also be required.  Once your identity has been validated by IdenTrust, you are provided with activation information to download your certificate via a secure online website, also hosted by IdenTrust.

Digital certificates can be stored in the certificate store of your browser for use on a single PC or in a hardware device (i.e., smart card or USB token) providing portability (i.e., the ability to use the certificate from multiple PCs) and security.

Digital Signing Offers Multiple Benefits

The use of identity-based certificates for digital signing offers multiple benefits including:

  • Non-Repudiation – Digital certificates that are bound to a trusted identity are used to digitally sign electronic documents, creating a binding and non-repudiable digital signature.
  • Inherent Applicability – Digital certificate protocol is embedded in Adobe® and Microsoft® products and the Bluebeam document management system, facilitating a turn-key implementation for digital signing.
  • Improved Processes – Digital signing allows an organization to streamline signature and approval processes, eliminate paper and establish an audit trail.
  • Multiple Uses – Electronic documents can be incorporated onto online applications, standalone processes and attached to email. 

Digitally Sign and Seal Professional Plans

Digitally Sign & Seal Professional Plans

In addition to digitally signing standard documents, IdenTrust digital certificates can be used to digitally sign and seal professional plans and other documentation. IdenTrust certificates are used by engineers, architects, surveyors and others to incorporate a digital seal into a digital signature that is produced when signing with an identity-based digital certificate. Many federal, state and local agencies now require the use of digital signing and sealing when accepting plans submissions. These same agencies are also moving to the use of digital signing and sealing for documents produced by the agency.

Choosing a Digital Certificate

IdenTrust offers a variety of identity-based certificates that support digital signing.  Your application will help to determine the best certificate option for you.

  • If working with a federal, state or local agency with a requirement to digitally sign and seal professional plans, the IdenTrust IGC certificate is the best option. 
  • If working with the Department of Defense (DoD) and need to digitally sign documents, the DoD ECA certificate is the best option.
  • If you are an individual or you are affiliated with a business and require public trust, an IdenTrust TrustID certificate is the best option.
  • If you are an individual or you are affiliated with a business and require government trust, an IdenTrust IGC certificate is the best option.

Deployment Options

IdenTrust offers a self-service model that allows you to purchase certificates via our secure website.  Alternately, IdenTrust offers various products and services to support an enterprise-wide certificate-based security solution. 

To learn more about IdenTrust digital signing solutions, please contact us at
[email protected] or call us at 1 (866) 763-3346.