Centuries have passed since the first signatures formed the basis for legally binding agreements. Since then, those wet signatures have been used for everything from contracts to end wars to leases for the corner shop.
While useful and recognized worldwide, times change, and signatures have taken different forms. What used to be the gold standard is now one of the many options available to you for document signing.
In this guide, we’re going to look at what a wet signature is, compare it to a digital signature online, and give you an idea of when to use a wet signature.
What is a wet signature?
A wet signature is a signature or the affixing of a pen or other writing instrument (wax seal, fingerprint, etc.) to a hard copy of a document or other agreement.
One speaks of a wet signature because the signature leaves a damp impression that dries quickly. Often, if someone touches the print before it dries, it gets smeared, invalidating the signature.
While it is true that electronic signatures have become increasingly popular over the years, there are many cases where electronic signatures are not allowed. This will be discussed in more detail in the guide later on.
While it’s usually your name in italics, a wet signature can take many forms. It can be a symbol, a stamp, initials, a fingerprint, a unique letter, etc. As long as you can be identified as the signatory, this is considered acceptable.
According to the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC).
“A signature can be a written document by hand or by a device or machine and by the use of any name, including a trade name or alias, or by a word, character or symbol created by any person for the present purpose executed or accepted. “
The fact is that wet signatures have been used for centuries and are recognized as legally binding in almost all legal systems worldwide. As mentioned earlier, times are changing.
Wet signatures vs. digital signature online
Electronic signatures (also known as e-signatures, online signatures, and in some cases digital signatures, although this is not entirely correct) have been around since the 1990s. Still, initially, their prevalence was very limited.
Today, a large percentage of the documents to be signed is created with electronic signatures. This became even more common when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.
Under the ESIGN Act of 2000, the electronic signature act in the United States, electronic signatures are electronic signatures.
Electronic signatures are legally binding in all parts of the United States, the European Union, and dozens of other jurisdictions worldwide.
The advantage of the digital signature onlineover the handwritten signature is the convenience. To get a wet signature on a document, you have to
- Meeting someone in person
- Mail the document to them
Send them the document; the recipient will print it out, sign it and mail it to you.
You send an email with an electronic signature; the recipient opens it and then signs it from their computer or mobile device. It’s hassle-free and can increase the speed of document signing by up to 80%.
Depending on the type of electronic signature Online, these can be in different formats.
Pin (e.g., when using an ATM)
Checkboxes (used in certain circumstances)
The convenience coupled with the recent epidemic has made people aware of alternative methods of signing important documents. Even if we are forced to hide behind closed doors, business continues, thanks in part to electronic signature technology.
The pros and cons of wet signatures
Accepted almost everywhere. Wet signatures have a centuries-old tradition. They have spread worldwide and can be accepted without regard to anything other than legally binding agreements.
Very easy to understand. Even at a young age, people know what a physical signature is and what it means. We are taught not to sign anything that we do not understand because it is binding and has serious consequences.
Signatures take longer. A wet signature takes many steps. These steps are often time-consuming when you and your client or team are far apart. The main disadvantage of DocSignPros, which can be created using software such as Microsoft Word, is the lack of security and audit trails. When a document is challenged in court, it can be not easy to prove that you are the person who signed it or that the recipient signed it with a DocSignPro.
You can avoid this by using DocSignPro – A useful PDFs electronic signature tool. It creates an audit trail, ensures your identity, and even adds hashes for documents on your behalf. This ensures the validity of your document and prevents it from being challenged because it is a DocSignPro.
Even better, you can upload a wet signature and attach it to a document you’ve signed through DocSignPro. In both cases, the best online signature app helps you avoid one of the main disadvantages of using DocSignPros, or compliant signatures, on important documents. There are two reasons for this. The original document must be retained, which requires space and regular maintenance. In addition, there are the costs for scanning, retrieving, and sending the documents.
Material and immaterial costs. Ink and paper are the obvious costs, but costs are also associated with the lost time when contracts are moved from one place to another. That can be negligible if you’re in the same city, but what if they’re on the other end of the country or in a different country?
Advantages and disadvantages of electronic signatures
Increased security. There is a clear audit trail in the electronic signature process. In addition, you can implement measures like SMS verification and ID uploads before the signature is approved.
Signatures faster. Since emails alert new documents to be signed almost instantly, all that remains is opening and signing them. This only takes a few minutes.
Persecution. You can follow every step of the signing process and get information like the IP address, what action was taken, etc.
Reduce paper consumption. Paper is not used to create electronic documents to save trees and help protect the environment.
Lower costs. It takes up less storage space for documents, does not use paper, and uses fewer pens in your office. Plus, you don’t have to move or move your documents to get them signed. All of these factors save money.
There are many more benefits, but this should give you an idea of the benefits of electronic signatures.
When is a wet signature preferable to an electronic signature?
While electronic signatures are becoming more popular and technology is getting better, they cannot be used in all situations. This is due in some cases to government regulations, in others to their acceptance.
Here are some situations when you shouldn’t use electronic signatures in most jurisdictions. Please note that there may be additional restrictions depending on where you live or that of the recipient.
- Adoption documents
- Official court documents
- Last will
- Divorce proceedings
- Product recalls
- Insurance payments
As mentioned earlier, this is not an exhaustive list of what to do with a wet signature. If in doubt, you should do your own research to ensure that you comply with the legal requirements.
Wet signatures are not a thing of the past, but electronic and digital signatures are slowly replacing them. All types of signatures have their place, and it is up to you to decide which is ideal for your current situation.
Ideally, you have a digital signature online solution that you can use in normal business operations, but that is still flexible enough to provide a wet signature when needed.
If you’re looking for a robust electronic signature platform that does more than send links, you should check out DocSignPro – our suite for E-signature app and workflow automation.