Electronic time stamp
An electronic time stamp is a service offered by a Qualified Trust Service Provider, which allows a legally valid and certain date and time to be associated to a digital document, enabling a temporal validation of the document that can be enforced against third parties.
eIDAS Regulation No 910/2014
Legal effects of electronic time stamps
1. An electronic time stamp shall not be denied legal effect and admissibility as evidence in legal proceedings solely on the grounds that it is in an electronic form or that it does not meet the requirements of the qualified electronic time stamp.
2. A qualified electronic time stamp shall enjoy the presumption of the accuracy of the date and the time it indicates and the integrity of the data to which the date and time are bound.
3. A qualified electronic time stamp issued in one Member State shall be recognised as a qualified electronic time stamp in all Member States.
Electronic time stamp, do I need it?
Signatories can use an electronic time stamp to bind a signed document to a particular date and time and prove in the future that the signed document existed at this particular date and time.
The timestamp service has full legal value, the date on the document assumes probative value.
The main advantages of electronic time stamping are:
- extending the validity of the document beyond that of the signature certificate (normally 10 years);
- proof of existence of a document at a given instant.
A digitally signed and time-stamped document has greater legal value than the corresponding paper document with a handwritten signature.
A qualified electronic time stamp meet the following requirements:
- it binds the date and time to data in such a manner as to reasonably preclude the possibility of the data being changed undetectably;
- it is based on an accurate time source linked to Coordinated Universal Time; and
- it is signed using an advanced electronic signature or sealed with an advanced electronic seal of the Qualified Trust Service Provider, or by some equivalent method.