In Israel, electronic signatures and certificate-based digital signatures are frequently used in business and by individuals for activities such as signing routine commercial agreements, legal proceedings, and transactions with government entities.
Laws covering the use of electronic signatures in Israel include:
In Israel, the Law stipulates three types of electronic signatures: (a) Electronic Signatures, (b) Secure Electronic Signatures and (c) Certified Electronic Signatures.
An Electronic Signature is defined as a signature (either an electronic signature or other electronic data intending to act as a signature) that is attached to or associated with an electronic message.
A Secure Electronic Signature is an electronic signature that meets all of the following requirements:
A Certified Electronic Signature is a Secure Electronic Signature backed by an electronic certificate from a recognized certification service provider or certificate authority (CA). Currently, two companies in Israel have been certified as having authority to issue Certified Electronic Signatures and recognized as the certification authorities: Comsign and PersonalID.
Each type of electronic signature has a different level of evidentiary weight. The evidentiary weight of a regular Electronic Signature will depend significantly on the circumstances. A Secure Electronic Signature is admissible in any legal proceedings as prima facie evidence that the document was not changed after signature, and that the document was signed by means of the applicable signing device. It is not, however, prima facie evidence of the signor's identity. Only a Certified Electronic Signature is prima facie evidence that the document was signed by the individual designated as the owner of the digital signature.
The Law does not address any workflows or processes that cannot be replicated electronically. Electronic signatures are commonly used in commerce, and businesses nowadays use electronic signatures to execute agreements quickly at the point of sale to provide electronic receipts. Additionally, Israeli courts allow and require most court documents to be signed using at least a Secure Electronic Signature.
Israel does not have data residency requirements. However, there may be restrictions on the export of personal data under the Protection of Privacy Regulations (Transfer of Information to Databases outside of the State's Boundaries) 2001 (“Data Transfer Regulations”).
Transacting with public sector entities
Multiple governmental entities allow businesses to submit documents which are signed by a Secure Electronic Signature, including the Registrar of Companies and the Israeli Tax Authority.
For any other laws requiring a signature on a document, including documents submitted or provided by governmental entities, the signature requirement can be fulfilled by either (i) a Certified Electronic Signature or (ii) any other electronic signature, provided that in the circumstances, the purposes of the signature requirement under the applicable legislation are met in a satisfactory manner. In accordance with Section 23 of the Law, the Minister of Justice may prescribe special conditions for the transmission of electronically signed messages to or from governmental entities, following the approval of the Law and Legislation Committee of the Knesset. No such conditions have yet been prescribed.
Use cases that generally require a traditional signature
In Israel, it is standard (and recommended) practice to execute agreements related to real estate by means of a handwritten signature, however there are no regulations or case law that prohibit the use of electronic signatures for this purpose.
A will and a memorandum of a will require a Certified Electronic signature. However, in accordance with the Inheritance Law, 1965, handwritten wills cannot be signed electronically. Additionally, Israeli courts do not accept affidavits which are signed by any means of electronic signature.
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