Electronic and certificate-based digital signatures are common in Vietnam with the majority of Vietnamese enterprises using digital signatures within their organizations. Vietnamese law recognizes both electronic signatures and digital signatures as having the same level of enforceability and admissibility as a “wet signature”, provided they meet certain requirements. Generally, the level of enforceability/admissibility of digital signatures is higher than other types of electronic signatures.
The main legislation covering electronic signatures is the Law on E-transactions 2005. At a lower level, the use of electronic signatures is governed by some specialized Decrees and Circulars, referring to the Law on E-Transactions. The requirements for a valid electronic signature vary depending on whether the electronic signature is being used to replace a traditional “wet” signature or the seal of an organization.
When an electronic signature is being used to replace a “wet” signature; it must satisfy the following conditions:
When an electronic signature is being used to replace the seal of an organization, it must satisfy the following conditions:
Digital Signatures are governed by the Decree No. 130/2018/ND-CP, as well as other Decrees and Circulars. Digital signatures are defined as a subset of electronic signatures created by the transformation of a data message using asymmetric cryptography.
Since digital signatures have been certified by certification authorities, the requirements for a valid digital signature only focus on the following security conditions:
Digital signatures must be certified by a digital certificate granted by one of the following authorities: (i) VietNam National Root Certification Authority; (ii) Specialized certification authorities of the Government; (iii) Public certification authorities (listed on the website of Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) in Vietnamese only); (iv) Specialized certification authorities of agencies and organizations issued with certificates of eligibility for special-use digital signature security.
Although there have been no publicly announced judgements on civil disputes or criminal offenses relating to E-signatures or digital signatures, Vietnamese courts and judges are quite familiar with the laws around electronic and digital signatures.
Transacting with public sector entities
There are no specific provisions on obligations and responsibilities for using digital signatures or electronic signatures with government entities.
Use cases that generally require a traditional signature
In Vietnam, there are several use cases that require a traditional signature and there are instances that require additional consideration for e-signatures’ legal compliance, such as when transacting with certain public sector entities. Additionally, notarization and certification of signatures and contracts in Vietnam cannot be replicated electronically. Thus, documents that must be notarized, or signatures or contracts that must be certified, cannot be signed or executed electronically. These are typically:
There are also specific processes or workflows that cannot be replicated electronically, typically as follows:
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