How do you sign an online contract? What signatures are valid?

How to Sign a Contract Online

It’s the year of virtual and socially distanced everything. From drive-by birthday parades and curbside pickup to business transactions that happen in a completely electronic fashion, 2020 is the year of e-commerce, Zoom, and online living. 

The way in which we conduct business has changed dramatically, and we’d argue, for the better. Even though the use of electronic signatures and virtual meetings were in use prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, their popularity and frequency of use grew exponentially in 2020 as more businesses have moved online. 

Still, conducting business face-to-face is the standard most of us are familiar with, leaving many of us to wonder how to do it properly in a digital environment. For instance, what’s the proper way to settle an agreement quickly without meeting face to face? 

What about contractual agreements? Don’t contracts have to be signed in-person in blue ink to be valid? 

The short answer is no. Contracts signed electronically are still considered legal and valid. If you need help navigating the tricky waters of digital business (like how to sign a contract online), Revv can help. 

Revv is your intelligent business partner that helps you create, manage, and finalize documents for your business. Agreements, contracts, NDAs, and hundreds of other commonly used forms are at your fingertips when you partner with Revv, and we support you from start to finish. 

Let’s look at how you can sign a contract online without ever putting pen to paper. We’ll discuss what a contract is and what it must contain to be legally binding. We’ll also cover what electronic signatures are, how they are enforceable, and how you can sign a contract online. 

What is a contract?

A contract is an agreement between two parties or entities. A contract will outline the specific duties of each party that must be carried through and completed. Contracts are enforceable by law, so they are never entered into lightly. 

For a contract to be legally binding, it must have four major elements.

  1. Offer. Both parties agree to do something or to not do something in the future. When two entities decide they want to enter into a business agreement, a contract will be formed.
  1. Consideration. This is what each party will offer. For instance, one party may offer a service for payment by the other party. The exchange of goods, services, and money are all outlined in the contract. 
  1. Acceptance. Both parties must agree to the contract’s terms. There is usually a time frame within which both parties must agree to and “accept” the terms of the contract.
  1. Mutuality. Both parties to the contract must understand the terms of the contract fully and have agreed to them.

When a contract has been established, it can then be signed. However, the contract does not have to be signed in pen and ink. A contract signed electronically, for instance, one that is received and “signed” via email is still legally binding and enforceable. 

Here’s how you can sign a contract online.

Is it legal to sign a contract online?

The E-Sign Act of July 30, 2000, made electronic signatures legal and valid. This means that contracts that you receive and sign online are enforceable by law, just the same as a contract that you sign in person, with pen and paper. 

The E-Sign Act does contain certain provisions for protecting the integrity of electronic signatures. For an electronic signature to be acceptable and valid on an online contract, the following terms must be met:

1. Consent. The person signing the contract electronically must consent to doing so. They must be given notice from the requesting party that the contract will be signed online electronically, and a paper copy will not be provided. 

They must also know the scope of their consent. If their consent covers any other documents and/or agreements, they must be made aware of the additional consents. 

The signer must also know the correct procedure for withdrawing their consent should they choose to do so, and also the deadline to withdraw. 

Finally, if the signer wants to receive a paper copy of the electronically signed online contract, they must be told how to obtain one and be advised of any fee for copy costs. 

2. Hardware and software requirements. The person signing the online contract must first be made aware of the hardware and software requirements needed to access the online contract and sign it electronically. 

The person signing must be able to access the necessary hardware and software in order to effectively review and sign the contract online. They must be able to ensure their proper access prior to giving their consent to sign electronically.

Additionally, if the hardware and/or software requirements change, the signer must be made aware of the changes prior to signing the contract online.

3. Record retention. The party that is requesting the signature must agree to retain appropriate records of the online contract for a period of time as specified by law. 

If these conditions are met, a contract can be signed online and be legally enforceable, just as a pen and paper contract is. 

However, it’s still important to remember that there are specific state and local rules concerning the use of electronic signatures, and they must be complied with for the contract to be enforceable. 

Great, you can sign a contract online. But exactly how do you do it? You’ve got questions; we’ve got answers. 

Revv uses eSign technology to assist individuals and businesses who need to use electronic signatures to sign online contracts. Here’s how. 

How do I use an Electronic Signature To Sign A Contract Online?

If you’ve consented to signing a contract electronically, it means you’ve made sure that you have access to a computer or other device that is equipped with the necessary software to sign. Usually, a simple browser suffices for you to sign on any device. If you’re afraid you won’t be able to figure it out, rest assured it is almost always very user friendly. 

When you receive a contract, it will usually have a step-by-step instruction process by which you can very easily click on signature boxes to “sign” the contract. 

Sometimes these boxes will allow you to choose an electronic version of your signature, such as a specific font or print. Other times, you will sign the document simply by clicking the box, or you may need to digitally draw your signature. 

When you’ve completed the prompts, the document will self-save and prompt the sender that you’ve completed signing. 

Signing electronically is a very simple process that saves time, money, and obviously, paper. If you want to send a contract to be signed online, you’ll need to use software that can help you format the contract for electronic signatures. Revv has you covered.

How To Format An Online Contract For Electronic Signatures

Formatting a contract for online delivery and signature is easy when you join forces with Revv. We offer a massive document database with forms that can help you create virtually any type of contract or business agreement you need, and we give you the tools you need to make electronic signing easy.

If you’ve already gotten your contract drafted and are ready to add electronic signature blocks, the process is really simple.

1. Log into your Revv account.

*If you haven’t yet signed up with Revv, you can do it easily. It’s free to sign up, and there is no credit card required.

2. Pull up the contract you’d like to format for electronic signature.

*Don’t have a contract yet? That’s okay. Browse our database of business document templates to find the perfect one that best fits your needs. Formatting the document to include the specific details of your agreement is easy, fast, and creates a professional document that both you and your clients will love.

3. Add signature blocks to the document. 

4. Enter signer information in the signature block panel. Enter the signer’s name, title, and any other information tags you’d like to include. Signature blocks are customizable, so you can include as much or as little information as you want. 

5. Click on the “eSign” button to send it to the recipient for their review and electronic signature. 

That’s it. You’ve just emailed your online contract to your client for their electronic signature, with a unique email link that’s just as secure as the document itself. It’s such a simple, time-saving process compared to traditional, round-table style contract review and signing. 

The great thing about Revv is that you’ll also get email alerts once you send your online contract for signature. When your signer signs your online contract, you’ll be notified immediately via email, so there’s literally zero downtime. 

Online Contracts: The Takeaway

Online contracts are a great way to save time, money, manpower, and keep socially distanced during the pandemic. Revv is your smart choice business partner who can help you manage your online documents and get them executed electronically with ease. 

Sources:

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/contract

http://jec.unm.edu/education/online-training/contract-law-tutorial/contract-fundamentals-part-2

http://americanbar.org/groups/litigation/committees/commercial-business/practice/2019/electronic-signatures-contracts-agreements/

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Reet

Reet

Reet is a product consultant at Revv. She loves listening to stories, exciting experiences and observing people around. She is a gen Z astrophile, whose escape is retro tunes and some stand-up comedy.

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