In the first place, in order to sign documents as a natural person (in order to seal documents as a legal person, you might be instead interested in electronic seals), a certificate for electronic signatures is needed. And, using this certificate, electronic signatures can be created. As part of the eIDAS Regulation, these certificates can be purchased from specific providers, named Trust Service Providers (TSP).
Obtain a digital certificate from a TSP
In the case of an ‘advanced electronic signature’, the certificate can be or not qualified. In the case of a ‘qualified electronic signature’, the certificate shall be qualified and the private key related to the certificate shall be stored on a ‘qualified electronic signature creation device’ (QSCD).
As laid down in eIDAS, a qualified electronic signature explicitly has the equivalent legal effect of a handwritten signature.
Providers of qualified certificates for electronic signatures, as an eIDAS legal obligation, are mandatorily listed in the corresponding national Trusted List. But providers of non-qualified certificates for electronic signatures could be but are not mandatorily listed in these Trusted Lists.
Trusted Lists, and therefore the providers listed in it, can be browsed in a user-friendly way using the Trusted List Browser. The actual content of these Trusted Lists is managed and published by each Member State and Trusted List Browser is “merely” browsing these Trusted Lists.
Choose your TSP using Trusted List Browser
Using Trusted List Browser, go to “Search by Type of service” (top left of the screen).
Select “Certificate for electronic signature” and/or “Qualified certificate for electronic signature” and click “Next”.
Then, select any country you may found appropriate and click “Search”.
Finally, click on any TSP you may found appropriate and, via the “Electronic address” multi-part field of the “Detailed information”, you will find a link to a website providing more information about this provider and the products it provides.
Sign your document
Once you have a certificate for electronic signature, you will be able to sign documents. TSPs might offer their own step-by-step process for signing digitally.