The electronic signature is a technical procedure for guaranteeing the authenticity of a document, a message or other electronic data and ensuring the identity of the signatory. It is based on an infrastructure managed by certification services providers. In order to encourage the development of e-commerce, the legislator allows certification service providers to become a recognised provider on an optional basis. In this way, they are able to demonstrate that the quality, reliability and security of the services they provide comply with the applicable standards. Under certain conditions, the law also treats electronic signatures as equivalent to handwritten signatures.
Information for users
To determine what type of signature should be generated in a specific context, it is advisable to consult a legal adviser specialising in the matter in question. Sometimes the recipient of the signature can also provide information on the type of electronic signature required. It is outside of OFCOM’s competence to provide this information. OFCOM defines the technical and operational regulations for providers of electronic signature certification services in cooperation with the Federal Office of Justice FOJ, which is responsible for the Federal Act on Electronic Signatures (SCSE). It therefore regulates the provision of certification services for generating electronic signatures, but not the framework for their use.
To date, no agreement on the mutual recognition of electronic signatures has been concluded between Switzerland and another third country (or the European Union). Where no such agreement exists, a qualified electronic signature based on a qualified certificate under foreign law is not recognised as being equivalent to a qualified electronic signature under Swiss law. Similarly, a Swiss qualified electronic signature is not recognised as being equivalent to a qualified electronic signature abroad. Some certification service providers recognised in Switzerland are able to provide solutions that are legally recognised in third countries.
Recognised certification services providers
The directory of recognised providers includes all certification service providers that comply with the requirements of the Federal Act on Electronic Signatures.
A service provider not included in this directory may, however, use certificates from a recognised certification service provider to provide its own services. To determine whether such a form of collaboration exists, contact the provider directly.
Any Swiss or foreign certification service provider can be recognised by the recognition bodies accredited by the Swiss Accreditation Service (SAS). The Federal Act on Electronic Signatures provides for a simplified recognition procedure for a provider recognised abroad in accordance with requirements equivalent to the Swiss regulations. KPMG AG is currently the only accredited recognition body. Such recognition does not apply to users of the services.
Regulations for the provision of certification services
The following technical and operational regulations are intended for certification service providers with regard to granting and maintaining recognition in accordance with the requirements of the Federal Act on Electronic Signatures. They do not cover the scope of application of electronic signatures and are therefore not directly intended for users.
Documents available in german, french or italian only.
SCSE Federal Act of 18 March 2016 on certification services in the area of the electronic signature and other digital certificate applications (RS 943.03)
OSCSE Ordinance of 23 November 2016 on certification services in the area of the electronic signature and other digital certificate applications (RS 943.032)
OFCOM Ordinance of 23 November 2016 on certification services in the area of the electronic signature and other digital certificate applications (RS 943.032.1)
LETC Federal Act of 6 October 1995 on technical barriers to trade (RS 946.51) [Available in German, French and Italian only]
OAccD Ordinance of 17 June 1996 on the accreditation system and the designation of testing laboratories and conformity assessment registration and homologation bodies (RS 946.512)
- RS 943.032.1 Technical and administrative regulations concerning certification services in the area of the electronic signature and other digital certificate applications
(document available in german, french or italian only).
- Explanatory statement, February 2022 (document available in german or french only).
Regulated certificates issued to authorities
Document available in german only.
Validation of electronic signatures
The Federal Office of Information Technology, Systems and Telecommunication (FOITT) has made available a web application for validating electronically signed documents.
Last modification 27.04.2022