The use of electronic signatures in Mexico is becoming more common, especially for business to business transactions and online sales. Mexico does not have a uniform law on electronic signatures or records. However, the key laws governing the use and enforceability of electronic signatures and electronic commerce are:
Mexican law distinguishes between electronic signatures and advanced electronic signatures. As a general principle, an electronic signature applied to a document between private parties is equally as enforceable as a handwritten signature.
In accordance with the applicable laws, an electronic signature is “any electronic data included within a data message, or attached to, or logically associated with the same through any technology, which is used to identify the signer with respect to the data message, and to indicate that the signer approves the information contained within the data message. The electronic signature produces the same legal effects as a handwritten signature, being admissible as evidence in trial.
For purposes of the previous definition a data message is “the information generated, sent, received or filed through optical or electronic means or through any other technology. In Mexico, the data message containing the electronic signature must meet the following requirements to be enforceable:
Mexican law recognizes an electronic signature as “advanced” if it is certified by a certification provider and complies with the following requirements:
Original electronic documentation can be validly signed using a standard electronic signature or an advanced electronic signature. The benefit of using an advanced electronic signature is to be able to digitize physical documents into data messages. This process involves applying an advanced electronic signature to a digitized document, even if that document already has a “wet ink” signature. Doing so ensures that the data message is given the same legal effect as the original.
While an advanced electronic signature does not have an additional presumption of validity over a standard electronic signature, in case of an eventual dispute, the fact that an advanced electronic signature is certified by a certification provider may provide stronger evidence of validity than a standard electronic signature. However, the foregoing does not mean that a standard electronic signature should be disregarded by a competent court.
Mexican courts have very little experience in the enforcement of documents signed through electronic signatures. Many of the courts lack sufficient technology to recognize and validate electronic signatures, especially if the consent is confirmed through email communications. Other e-signature systems (e.g. Adobe Sign) are more likely to be recognized by a Mexican court.
Transacting with public sector entities
Government filings and communications are not included within the scope of the Mexican Civil Code and Commerce Code. While some authorities allow online filing, the general rule is that these filings are done physically. The only regulations regarding electronic signature for governmental filings refer to a specific kind of advanced electronic signature (also known as FIEL), which is used to carry out certain tax filings.
Use cases that generally require a traditional signature
In accordance with the Mexican Commerce Code, when the applicable law requires a document to be formalized before a Notary Public, the Notary must state in the relevant public instrument the electronic means through which the parties have expressed their will. Likewise, the Notary shall keep the relevant data message in custody for further consultation.
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