What is electronic time stamping, and what is it for?

In the case of regular documents, when we want to confirm the time of their signing, their date or the visit to the notary is enough. However, in some situations, electronic documents also require confirmation, but here another e-solution is needed – time stamping.


Why do I need time stamping?
Time stamping can be useful in a situation in which we have to prove that a given document had existed and had been signed before a specific time. It helps to prevent manipulation in the documents content and signature time, so in some sense, it is the kind of protection against fraud.


How does electronic time stamping work?
Time stamping is permanently attached to the given document, which can reliably confirm the exact time of stamping. It is also an adjunct to the electronic signature (eSign) or electronic seal because it proves that the signature or seal had happened before a specific time, and the document has not been changed.


Digital signature timestamp
Timestamp can be used in the process of electronic signature. The Signing person, in the moment of signing, additionally timestamp the document. Applications that verify the signatures present the time of stamping as a moment of signing. Additionally, qualified timestamp placed correctly verifies the electronic signature, even after the electronic signature certificate has expired or has been canceled. If you want to know more about the possibilities of using time stamping in your company, we invite you to see our consulting offer.


eIDAS definition
The role and specification, as well as, detailed overview of the term, are in the eIDAS regulations, which is responsible for the security of electronic transactions in the Member States of the European Union.


“An electronic time stamp” is a piece of data in electronic form which binds other electronic data to a particular time establishing evidence that these data existed at that time.” (eIDAS art. 3)


Qualified time stamp
Only qualified trust service providers* can implement the service of a qualified time stamp. This kind of service enables the use of time stamp as credible evidence in legal proceedings and is also an unequivocal date. In the case of regular time stamping, using it as evidence cannot be questioned on the premise that it is not called qualified.


*Qualified trust service providers as suppliers are subject to specific requirements and audits, and their services have the same legal effect in all European countries.


The qualified time stamp is based on a universal time source in Poland coordinated by the Central Office of Measures. The time reliability is synchronised so that it will be interpreted correctly in different places around the world.


Date of publication: 9.09.2020