FAQ About E-Signatures in Canada

Data privacy, signer identity, and legalities for Canadians

We never get tired of answering questions from people interested in digitizing their agreements, so please, keep them coming. Folks always ask us about the legality of e-signatures, how multiple signers are handled, data privacy in Canada, and validating signer identity.

Here are the most frequently asked questions that come our way.  


Are electronic signatures legal in Canada?

Yes! An electronic signature in Canada has the same legal status as a handwritten one. 

E-signature in Canada is regulated federally by PIPEDA, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. At the provincial level, UECA, the Uniform Electronic Commerce Act, makes them valid in all provinces except Quebec where the law (CQLR c C1.1) recognizes e-signatures as “having the same legal weight as their paper equivalent”. 

Every Docusign eSignature is securely encrypted to prevent tampering – and each comes with a complete audit record of the transaction that is admissible in court, should the need arise. 

E-signatures are legal and accepted in all U.S states and in more than 180 countries, making it easy to do business across the border and across the world. 

Want to know more? Check the global E-signature Legality Guide.


How can different people sign the same document?

It’s common to require more than one signature on an agreement. First, you must designate all signers, then set the order of signatures according to your specific workflow.

As the document moves between signers, signatures are recorded and securely encrypted to prevent tampering or editing of any kind. Documents are automatically routed from one signer to the next according to your designated signing order.

When all signatures are finalized, a Certificate of Completion is attached to the document which includes a full information audit of each signer. All signers in the workflow receive a link to the completed agreement with the Certificate of Completion. You can also notify others whose signatures were not required when the paperwork is finalized. 

Want to know more? See what’s included in a Certificate of Completion.


How does Docusign verify an individual’s identification?

There are a number of authentication methods to verify signer identity. Docusign Identify is a suite of ID verification and authentication methods integrated with Docusign eSignature that lets you connect any identification mechanism to your agreement workflow. Trusted identification confirmations include:

  • Docusign ID Verification automatically verifies a signer’s Canadian or U.S. government-issued ID or European eID on any device. A trusted third-party software confirms the validity of the ID (eg: ID Check for AES, ID Check In Person for QES, ID Check Remote for QES)
  • Signer Attachments require the signer to upload a piece of official ID for verification before signing, usually a driver’s license or passport
  • One-time SMS (text), access code, or phone authentication
  • Knowledge-based authentication
  • Docusign Open API allows for custom ID verification integration

Want to know more? Watch a 2-minute video on ID Verification (click the passport).  


Do I need a Docusign account to sign a document?

No. Anyone can sign an agreement without any special software, without a Docusign account, or the app. All you need is the signer’s valid email address. If their signature is required, add their name to the document and they’ll receive an email notification with a link to the document.

Anyone can sign anytime, on virtually any device – from a PC, tablet, or cell phone. You can even sign if you’re offline and Docusign will sync actions once connectivity is restored. Your signers can adopt a signature style from the available list, use their fingertip on a signing pad, or upload a digitized signature file. All are valid and legal.

Docusign is always free for signers. 

Want to know more? Discover other benefits.


How does Docusign comply with Canada’s data residency requirements?

In Canada, Docusign uses Microsoft Azure for our Cloud-based data servers and we run two data centres, one in Ontario and one in Quebec. Docusign is fully compliant with all data residency requirements and data privacy legislation governed federally under PIPEDA

Data residency rules can vary by province depending on the type of data being stored. Ontario’s Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA) requiring provincial health care data to stay on shore is a good example of this. British Columbia and Nova Scotia prohibit government institutions and their service providers from moving personal data outside Canada.

As a custodian of data for Canada’s citizens and business transactions, Docusign takes great care to ensure legal compliance for the secure collection, transfer, and disposal of electronic records. 

Want to know more? Read the press release on Canada’s data centre.


How long does Docusign retain signing information in the Cloud?

Signed documents are stored in the Cloud until the client deletes them. Clients can designate a retention period for their documents from “no retention” to “never delete”. 

Because Docusign offers unlimited storage as part of our basic eSignature package, many clients don’t delete signed agreements at all and use the Docusign Agreement Cloud for their own document management. 

Note that Docusign does not retain any ID information or credit card payment details.

Want to know more? Explore how to choose a contract management solution.  


How does Docusign handle witnessed signatures?

If a witness signature is required on a document, use Docusign’s eWitness feature within the eSignature product. The signer designates the person who will act as witness and the document is automatically routed to the witness after the signer(s) sign. 

Signers can identify up to two witnesses to sign an agreement. eWitness captures the witness information for traceability and audit which is included in the Certificate of Completion to support any legal disputes. 

Want to know more? We’ve expanded eNotary capabilities (not yet available in Canada)  


Does Docusign work with MS Word, an Excel spreadsheet or Google doc?

Yes to all three. You can improve productivity no matter your document of choice. Regardless of document type, use the same easy drag and drop features to tag where recipients need to sign. Anyone can sign from any device. 

Read more about Docusign for Word and Docusign for Google Docs.  


Can I use Docusign to capture one-click consent to standard terms?

Yes. This type of agreement is known as a “clickwrap”. It wraps up consent for your standard privacy policies, terms and conditions, and disclosures in a single click. Consent is given when your user clicks "I agree". Docusign Click let’s you record and manage these consents simply – reducing customer friction, minimizing legal risk, and cutting time and expense on back-and-forth agreements.

Want to know more? Integrate custom clickwrap agreements with Docusign’s Click REST API


Hey, can we get a copy of these slides?

The truth is, this is our most commonly asked question. In every webinar, every demo, every presentation we do, we get asked if we’ll distribute the slide deck. Of course we’ll share. 

All you have to do is ask.

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