Electronic Signature Laws & Regulations - Finland

Note:

As a European Union (EU) Member State, Finland 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.

Overview

In general, electronic signatures are frequently used in Finland and are generally accepted in the business community. Next to the eIDAS Regulation, the key laws in Finland that regulate the use of electronic signatures include:

  1. The Finnish Act on Strong Electronic Identification and Electronic Trust Services (617/2009) which is the most important legal instrument in the context of electronic signatures in Finland as it implements and supplements the eIDAS Regulation.
  2. The Finnish Act on Electronic Services and Communication in the Public Sector (13/2003) which regulates how the public sector can sign documents electronically.

The general rule in Finland is one of freedom of contracting, which means that the contents of contracts and signature requirements are generally not regulated. Thus, commercial contracts are not required to be in a specific format and contracts can be signed electronically if the parties so choose. Under Finnish law, unless  a contract is signed using a Qualified Electronic Signature (QES) as defined in the eIDAS Regulation, the holder of the electronic signature is responsible for proving that the electronic conclusion of the contract was sufficient and that the signatories had the actual or apparent authority to enter into the contract in question. Additionally, there is only an a posteriori control by courts on whether or not electronic signatures can be used. There are only a few cases in which the courts have considered whether electronic signatures are valid and, based on these decisions, the courts are generally familiar with the laws surrounding electronic signatures.

Note:

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 QTSP providers for Finland is available at: https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/tl-browser/#/tl/FI. Currently, the only QTSP in Finland is the Population Register Center of Finland.

In Finland, the Finnish Digital and Population Data Services Agency under the Act on the Population Information System and Authentication Services issues qualified certificates to organizations and citizens as  a form of electronic identification. The qualified certificates for citizens are issued to Finnish nationals or foreign nationals who are residents in a Finnish municipality and whose details are stored in the Population Information System and whose identity has been reliably established. Both types of qualified certificates may be used to create a QES.


Special Considerations

There are no restrictions in Finnish law that prohibit the storage or processing of electronic signature data outside Finland. However, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is applicable in Finland.

Transacting with public sector entities

The Act on Electronic Services and Communication in the Public Sector states that when contracting with government entities, all official decision documents must be signed with an advanced electronic signature (AdES) or by other similar means through which the authenticity and integrity of the document can be ensured. However, the Act also states that other equivalent means may be used as long as the authenticity and integrity of the document can be ensured. For example, the public authorities have instructed that sending a document by email counts as an electronic signature.

Use cases that generally require a traditional signature

In Finland, the following document and agreement types cannot be signed or executed electronically:

  1. Contracts that require notarization, including application of an apostille;
  2. Contracts that create or transfer right to real property, with the exception of rental agreements, unless explicitly allowed by the Code of Real Estate;
  3. Contracts governed by family law or inheritance law, such as testaments and prenuptial agreements, which require the signatures of witnesses in order to be valid; and
  4. Contracts that require witnesses or notarization.
Note:

Disclaimer: Information on this page is intended to help businesses understand the legal framework of electronic signatures. However, Adobe cannot provide legal advice. You should consult an attorney regarding your specific legal questions. Laws and regulations change frequently, and this information may not be current or accurate. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Adobe provides this material on an "as-is" basis. Adobe disclaims and makes no representation or warranty of any kind with respect to this material, express, implied or statutory, including representations, guarantees or warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or accuracy.

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