Public authorities can make use of an electronic signature (Amtssignatur) or “seal” as official signature to sign contracts digitally.
The official signature is affixed to documents in order to identify them as official documents issued by the public authority. The public authority can be identified by means of the official signature. The signature also ensures the verifiability of the document.
The official signature must possess certain attributes in order for the signature to be verified and to confirm the validity of the document even when a copy is made and printed on paper. The Austrian E-Government Act states in §19 that, in addition to the logo and the signature verification information, an indicator must be included in order to ensure that the document was officially signed by the authority. Preferably, this indicator has a standardized design so that citizens, businesses or public authorities can easily recognize the official signature.
In addition to the sovereign administration, the public administration may now also use the official signature within the framework of the private sector administration pursuant to §19, Par. 2 of the E-Government Act (E-GovG). In this case, however, the information that the printout of the officially signed document also has the validity of a public certificate needs to be omitted in the field “Note”.
Central IT service providers also offer the official signature as a shared service.
The official signature of electronic documents is illustrated by a figurative mark, with is online for the Federal Ministry Republic of Austria Digital and Economic Affairs under official signature.