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Romania: Electronic signature and the Romanian authorities

13 April 2020 – As part of its response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Romania, the Romanian government has taken additional measures to reduce in-person interaction with public authorities.

New obligations for Romanian public authorities

Under the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 38/2020 (“GEO 38/2020”), all Romanian public authorities are required to take necessary measures for accepting electronically signed documents from the public and issuing to that end electronically signed official documents.

GEO 38/2020 is the first piece of national legislation expressly setting forth such obligations for the public authorities and is intended to unify the practice of the Romanian public authorities. Certain public authorities (e.g., the Commercial Registry, Romanian Electronic System for Public Procurements) have been accepting documents with qualified electronic signatures attached thereto prior to the enactment of GEO 38/2020. However, some authorities were still reluctant to accept documents signed using electronic signatures (e.g., territorial labour inspectorates).

STS - qualified trust services provider

In order to facilitate obtaining qualified electronic signatures for use by public authorities and institutions, through Government Emergency Ordinance no. 39/2020, the Romanian government has appointed the Romanian Special Telecommunications Service (in Romanian: Serviciul de Telecomunicații Speciale (STS)) as a qualified trust services provider for public authorities and institutions.

What is an electronic signature?

Under EU Regulation no. 910/2014 (the “eIDAS Regulation”), an electronic signature is a collection of data “in electronic form which is attached to or logically associated with other data in electronic form and which is used by the signatory to sign”. Based on the level of security, electronic signatures are classified as: simple electronic signatures, advanced electronic signatures and qualified electronic signatures.

As a novelty, GEO 38/2020 also recognises advanced electronic signatures the same legal effects as wet ink signatures. Prior to the enactment of GEO 38/2020, only qualified electronic signatures were recognised as having the same legal effect as wet ink signatures.

What documents can I sign using a qualified or advanced electronic signature?

Generally, all documents that do not need to be signed before a public notary may be signed using a qualified or advanced electronic signature. A more comprehensive overview is available here.

However, we recommend to seek legal advice for each type of document that you intend to sign by using a qualified or advanced electronic signature.

Who are the services providers that can issue qualified or advanced electronic signatures?

Only authorised trust services providers may issue qualified or advanced electronic signatures. A list of the trust services providers currently authorised in Romania is available here; a list of the trust services providers authorised at EU level is available here.

How can I obtain a qualified electronic signature?

Each trust services provider has its own procedure for the issuance of qualified electronic signatures. However, although the enactment of the above-mentioned government emergency ordinances is a good step forward towards digitalisation, we are still missing national implementation rules for specific matters regulated by the eIDAS Regulation only as general principals. Without such national implementation norms, to our knowledge none of the trust services providers authorised in Romania are issuing qualified/advanced electronic signatures in a complete digital manner. At this stage, the current legislation still requires the personal presence of the signatory upon the issuance of qualified/advanced electronic signature or a notarial deed for the identification of the person to whom the qualified electronic signature is issued.

For more information on the topic, please contact Zsuzsa Csiki, Counsel, at

e-mail

, and Mihai Coadă, Senior Associate, at .