Everything You Need To Know About EPREL E-Seal
A new European Commission Regulation required e-manufacturers to comply with stricter energy efficiency standards and be more transparent about detailed performance information in product datasheets and labels. These changes take into account the latest technological advances. The document obliges manufacturers to register their products, providing consumers with relevant product parameters.
But before you can register your products, you must register your company in a relevant database. Since February 2022, the EPREL has required providers (which are legal entities) to digitally verify their identities. This is where electronic seals come in handy.
If you need your electronic signature to be considered legally binding, it must meet certain criteria. The attempt to figure out digital signature tools means that companies are interested in their legal status. In this article, we will go over all the necessary elements you should know about EPREL e-seal for an eCommerce business.
What Is an Electronic Seal?
An e-seal is nothing more than electronic data (stored on a secure cryptography card) that serves to identify the company signing it. Each document that is signed with an e-seal has legal force. The Electronic Identification and Trust Services (eIDAS) regulation also makes it clear that only one type of e-seal has the same legal value as a wet seal. More on this is below.
- Legal Effectiveness. You will have recognized proof of origin and integrity of documents.
- Business Efficiency. You will forget about trading breaks in your eCommerce business.
- Legal Compliance. You will meet all standard compliant and legally compliant processes.
- Certified Cyber Security. You will have the highest level of data security.
- Flexibility. You will have all your account statements, invoices, notices, deeds, certificates, scanned documents, and much more under your protection.
What Type Of Electronic Seal Is Legally Binding?
Let’s get acquainted with the criteria when the electronic seal is legally binding. The legally bonded e-seal should meet four criteria set out in the European Regulation, namely:
- The signatory can be uniquely identified and linked to the seal;
- The signatory must have sole control of the seal creation data (typically a private key) that was used to create the electronic seal;
- The seal must be capable of identifying if its accompanying data has been tampered with after the message was signed;
- In the event that the accompanying data has been changed, the seal must be invalidated.
The document sent online must not be able to be changed during or after signing. Regarding the identification of the signer, you can use several methods that are provided to confirm that it is indeed that person.
For example, the signatory receives a code on their mobile phone that is linked to their personal telephone number. Until they enter the code, they cannot read the encrypted document. Identity can be also double-verified by sending another one-time code to their work email address.
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3 Seal Levels Accepted By The EIDAS Regulation
There are currently three types of e-seals with recognized legal value: simple, advanced, and qualified electronic seals. Let’s talk about them more precisely.
The simple e-seal
It is the best-known and most-used method on the market to date. It represents a basic level of security, with an e-seal and identity verification that are not mandatory to prove. It is considered to be weaker than handwritten signatures on paper. E.g., a name at the end of an email.
To give a concrete example: A digital seal for a delivery person is referred to as a simple signature. This process is more about ensuring the transfer traceability rather than personal identity. It is logical that a simple seal is not enough in all business areas.
The advanced e-seal
It is required immediately when it comes to major financial transactions or when there is a specific legal framework. It is based on cryptography, ensuring the integrity of the signed document and signature. There are four mandatory signature criteria in order to recognize the legally binding character of an e-seal that we have been talking about above. However, anyone can create their own personal certificate authority. Therefore, an advance electronic signature doesn’t provide any assurance on who signed the document.
The qualified e-seal
This is the seal with the highest security level, and also the one that has to meet 4 requirements. This qualified level introduces quality assurance, backed with supervised conformity checks and accreditation processes. So it provides a guarantee that the authenticity of the signatory (the person named in the signing certificate created the signature). Therefore it is not always ideal for every transaction or signing process. It is mostly used in very specific situations in which the requirements that a qualified seal meets are desired.
Registration Of eCommerce Company With The Electronic Seal
Before you can register your products in EPREL, you must register your company in order for it can be found in the EPREL database.
Since February 2022, the EPREL platform has required providers (which are legal entities) to digitally verify their identities. Before you can verify your company’s identity, you must upload your business registration number, business registration ID, and organization identifier to EPREL. To help you, the European Commission has published a set of guidelines on its website on how to do this.
It recommends suppliers acquire a qualified e-seal promptly so that their products remain fully visible and searchable in EPREL over the long term. After the end of a transition period, only “verified” suppliers will be able to register their products for EPREL. You can get the electronic seal by contacting the EU Trusted List of Trust Service Providers. The process of getting the EPREL seal occurs in several stages. First, you contact the provider, then fill out all the necessary forms, submit them for verification and receive your qualified seal.
The actual verification of your organization’s identity relies on e-seal technology. Electronic seals and electronic signatures are basically two different sides of the same coin. The main difference is that e-signatures are used for physical entities while electronic seals are used for legal ones. Therefore, it is not surprising that electronic seals and electronic signatures are regulated by the same instrument – the Electronic Identification and Trust Services Regulation.
The European Commission has chosen to require a qualified electronic seal to verify the identity of organizations using EPREL. The reason is that this type of e-seal is best suited to ensure the authenticity of the uploaded information.
Electronic verification is a fast verification method, where legal entity Suppliers receive a verification resolution in a matter of minutes from the moment the Verification PDF is uploaded. To pass the verification, suppliers need to provide an electronically sealed document (Verification File), stating their organization’s identity. Verification is a simple 3-step process.
Additional Opportunities Of Using Electronic Seal
Since the EPREL e-seal is recognized throughout the European Union, it also gives companies an additional tool to further digitize internal and external processes and thus reduce organizational throughput times. In accordance with Technical Guideline 03138 for replacement scanning, you can also use a digital seal for technically secure long-term archiving.
Moreover, the use of e-seals can prevent fraud. In this way, each recipient of an invoice or another business-relevant document with such a seal can verify for themself whether it is actually received from the specified legal entity and whether the data can be falsified afterward.
It is very pragmatic that the use of an e-seal is increasingly required by legislators or certain authorities. For example, in connection with the second Payment Services Directive (“PSD2”) specifications for technical regulatory standards, strong customer authentication, and for secure open standards of communication were made. In this area, the Delegated Regulation (EU) 2018/389 stipulates that the exchange between third-party providers (fintech companies) and banking institutions must be made more secure, among other things, by using qualified electronic seals, thus minimizing the risk of fraud.
Within the framework of procurement procedures according to Section 53 of Procurement Law, public clients can express interest, confirm interest, and send applications by using an advanced or qualified e-seal. It is important to understand that these demands are necessary for efficiently preventing potential dangers in digital data exchange.
The above application scenarios represent only a small part of the numerous uses of electronic seals. But even this list clearly shows that eCommerce companies can benefit from e-seals in many respects.
Implementation of the e-seal in the eCommerce sector is yet another example of the EU adoption of Qualified Trust Services with strong regulatory requirements or legal consequences. Similar requirements were implemented in 2019 for payment service providers (PSD2) and we expect to see more sectors adopting e-Seals and Qualified Web Authentication Certificates (QWACs) to authenticate digital identity in the future.
It’s possible that the U.S. and other countries may adopt a similar system, as Europe has been leading the way in digital identities. We recommend that eCommerce companies start planning now for a future built on verified digital identity and get qualified e-seal contacting Trusted Service Providers.
After you will get the EPREL electronic seal, let’s discuss the ways how we can help you to set-up an automated data input to EPREL via scheduling a 30-minutes call with our eCommerce expert.
EPREL Eseal FAQ
What is EPREL e-seal?
The e-seal is a digital signature tool that is recognized EU-wide for legal entities in accordance with the eIDAS regulation and reliably proves the authenticity and integrity of documents.
Since when is the electronic seal accepted?
The e-seal has had official legal status in Europe since 2014 with the adoption of the eIDAS regulation. So a company has the right to sign a contract or a cost estimate with a digital signature.
What is the difference between a digital seal and a digital signature?
The main difference is that electronic seals only guarantee the authenticity and integrity of the document. A document requiring a signature will still need to be e-signed using an electronic or digital signature. An e-seal can then be added for extra peace of mind for your business and your signers.
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