Are e-signatures legal, admissible, and enforceable in Colombia?
(i) Law 527/1999, as amended (Law 527), which defines and regulates the access and use of data message, electronic commerce, and digital signatures.
(ii) Decree 2364/2012 (compiled under Decree 1074/2015, Article 188.8.131.52.1. et seq.), secondary legislation to Law 527.
(iii) Decree 1413/2017 and Decree 620/2020 (compiled under Decree 1078/2015), which set forth rules on digital IDs
(iv) Decree 333/2014, which sets forth the secondary legislation for the recognition of certification entities
Types of signatures:
Applicable law defines the notion of both "electronic" and "digital" signatures, as follows:
(i) Electronic signatures: any method allowing identification of a person with respect to a data message (e.g., codes, passwords, biometric data, or private cryptographic keywords), provided such message is trustworthy and appropriate with respect to the purpose of signature in consideration will all circumstances and/or as agreed by the parties.
(ii) Digital signatures: any numeric value adhered to a data message, allowing determination of whether such value has been obtained exclusively from the initiator and confirmation that the initial message has not been modified at any point, by relying on a known mathematical procedure associated to the initiator of the message.
Validity of signatures:
(i) Electronic signatures are deemed valid if, in the light of all circumstances, the signature is trustworthy and appropriate for purposes for which the data message was made or communicated. The law presumes the "trustworthiness" of the signature if: (a) the signature creation data corresponds exclusively to the signer (under the applicable contexts), and (b) it is possible to detect any non-authorized alteration of the data message after signing.
(ii) Digital signatures are deemed valid if such signature: (a) belongs to a single individual, (b) may be verified, (c) is under the exclusive control of its user, (d) is associated to information or a message in such manner that if these are modified the signature will be invalidated, and (e) complies with any other conditions set forth under the government's secondary legislation.
The law recognizes valid "electronic" or "digital" signatures to have the same binding effect as regular, "wet" signatures.
Are there certain documents that cannot be e-signed in Colombia?
In general, under applicable law, all kinds of documents may be signed in electronic form, unless the law expressly excludes this possibility. Examples of excluded documents are the following:
(i) Obligations contracted by the Colombian government under international conventions or treaties;
(ii) Written warnings which the law requires to be printed on certain types of products in consideration of the risk involved in their marketing, use, or consumption;
(iii) Certain negotiable instruments, such as bank checks, which require physical signature.
Does local regulation govern the use of digital IDs and/or certificates for e-signatures in Colombia?
(i) Every person 18 or older may obtain a citizenship card (cédula de ciudadanía, "Citizenship ID"), which is necessary for proving identity and exercising political rights.
(ii) Under applicable law in the near future Colombian citizens will be able to obtain digital Citizenship IDs, which will be deemed equivalent to the physical version. Full implementation depends on the final adoption of the secondary legislation issued Registraduría Nacional del Estado Civil and is expected to start during November/December 2020.
Certificates for e-signatures:
(i) Under applicable law, local and foreign entities may file with the Colombian crediting authority (Organismo Nacional de Acreditación, "ONAC") for recognition as certifying entities, provided compliance with the requirements set forth under the law.
(ii) Duly recognized certifying entities are authorized to issue electronic / digital signature certificates, among other services.
Does local law provide certification bodies / trust services that users of e-signatures should be aware of in Colombia?
Certifying entities seeking to operate in Colombia must obtain recognition from the ONAC.
*DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this guide is for information purposes only, provided as is as of the date of publication and should not be relied upon as legal advice or to determine how the law applies to your business or organization. It is recommended that you seek guidance from your legal counsel with regard to law applying specifically to your business or organization and how to ensure compliance. OneSpan does not accept liability for the contents of these materials or for third parties materials.
Last updated: November 2020