As a European Union (EU) Member State, Hungary is governed by Regulation No. 910/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market (eIDAS). For more information on eIDAS, please read the Electronic Signature Laws & Regulations in the EU.
In general, use of electronic signatures is not common in Hungary due to ambiguity regarding the legal definitions for “written form” and “private document with full probative force” in Hungarian law. Even so, acceptance and use of electronic signatures and certificate-based digital signatures is increasing in the Hungarian business community.
Next to the eIDAS Regulation, key laws that regulate the use of electronic signatures in Hungary include:
According to the Hungarian Civil Code, if a specific form for a legal statement is required law or by agreement of the parties, then the legal statement is only considered valid if made in that form. Additionally, if the written form is required, the contract is considered to be valid if:
The prevailing opinion in Hungary is that a qualified electronic signature (QES) or an advanced electronic signature (AdES) can be used to fulfill the requirement for the written form. However, there are court decisions that have accepted simple (or basic) electronic signatures as the written form. Thus, highlighting that the Hungarian courts will determine whether an electronic signature on a legal statement meets the requirement of the written form on a case by case basis.
The Code of Civil Procedure and other Hungarian laws require certain statements be made as a private document with full probative force which, unless proven otherwise, proves that the signatory has in fact made, accepted, or otherwise intends to be bound by the assertions in the legal statement. According to the Code of Civil Procedure, an electronic document will be considered a private document with full probative force if it is:
Examples of agreements and statements that require the written form include:
Examples of use cases that require a private document with full probative force include:
Unless otherwise required by law, it is important to note that in Hungary, a person can never be forced to contract electronically, thus the option for a handwritten signature should always be available. However, one exception is in court and authority proceedings which generally mandate use of the electronic form.
EU Member States have the obligation to establish, maintain and publish trusted lists of Qualified Trust Service Providers (QTSPs) and the qualified trust services provided by them. A QTSP certified in any EU Member State will be recognized as a QTSP by all other Member States. Accordingly, no EU Member State may question the qualified status once a QTSP has been added to the trusted list by the supervisory authority of another Member State. The list of Hungarian QTSP providers is available at: https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/tl-browser/#/tl/HU.
In general, there is no restriction in Hungary law that would prohibit the storage and processing of electronic signature data outside of Hungary. However, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is applicable in Hungary.
Transacting with public sector entities
When a private document with full probative force is required, the Hungarian authorities must accept an AdES based on a qualified certificate or a QES. However, where relevant legislation requires written communication, a legal statement made within the context of electronic communication shall be considered to meet that requirement if:
Use cases that generally require a traditional signature
In Hungary, there are specific statements (e.g. wills or marriage documents) that require a handwritten signature. There are also certain processes that cannot be replicated electronically such the preparation of Inheritance documents or European payment order procedures that must be completed in front of a notary. Furthermore, according to the General Rules for Trust Services and Electronic Transactions, electronic communications may not be used for:
Additionally, a witnessed document is only considered to be a private document with full probative force if it is signed by two witnesses verifying that the person named in the document produced the signature before them. And, unless otherwise provided by law, the name and residence address of each witnesses must be legibly indicated on the document.
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