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What is a wet signature and why am I being asked for one?

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What is a wet signature and why am I being asked for one? - Contract Sent

A wet signature is a traditional method of signing a document by hand, using a pen or other writing instrument, and physically putting your signature onto a piece of paper. It is called a wet signature because, as you can image, the ink is wet when it comes out of the pen and will give you a nice old smudge or smear if it is not allowed to dry properly, or simply if you’re left handed.

In legal and business contexts, wet signatures are sometimes preferred or required over electronic signatures because they have been, in the past, and still are in some countries, considered more secure and reliable. A wet signature provides a tangible record of the signer’s intent to be bound by the terms of the document, and it can be used to verify the identity of the signer if necessary.

However, wet signatures also have a lot of drawbacks. They are more time-consuming and expensive than electronic signatures, as they require the physical exchange of documents, think couriering documents back and forth across the world. Wet signatures can also be forged or altered, and there is always the risk of the document being lost or damaged during transit or simply taking its merry old time.

Despite these limitations, using wet signatures still remains an important part of the legal and business world, particularly in areas such as starting bank accounts for your startup, employment agreements, and loan documents. In some cases, wet signatures may be required by law or regulation, or they may be preferred by certain parties as a matter of personal preference or cultural tradition. There are even places where a company stamp will be required.

In recent years, electronic signatures have become the norm for most signers and they have become a much easier alternative to wet signatures, allowing individuals and organizations to sign documents quickly and securely using digital tools with timestamps and automated sending off of executed documents. However, as the legal and technological landscape continues to evolve, it is likely that both wet signatures and electronic signatures will continue to coexist, especially in countries that are slow to adopt new technology, each with its own advantages and limitations, and each serving different needs and purposes.

What is a wet signature

Where are wet signatures still required?

The use of wet signatures for commercial contracts is a longstanding tradition in many countries around the world. A wet signature is a physical signature that is signed with ink on paper, as opposed to an electronic signature that is signed digitally. Despite the rise of electronic signatures, many countries still require wet signatures for commercial contracts.

The requirement for wet signatures in commercial contracts can be very different from country to country. Some countries have laws and regulations that specifically require wet signatures or even company stamps to be used, while others may leave it up to the discretion of the parties involved. When you’re expanding globally it’s important to keep this in mind. Here are some of the countries that may require wet signatures for commercial contracts, keeping in mind that it will depend on the type of commercial contract that your making with your customer:

  • United States: In the United States, wet signatures are required for a variety of commercial contracts, including real estate contracts, employment agreements, and financial documents. While electronic signatures are permitted under certain circumstances, wet signatures are generally preferred.

  • Canada: Canada also requires wet signatures for many types of commercial contracts, including real estate transactions and employment agreements. However, electronic signatures are becoming more common, and many Canadian provinces have legislation in place to regulate their use.

  • United Kingdom: In the United Kingdom, wet signatures are generally preferred for commercial contracts, although electronic signatures are becoming more accepted. However, some types of contracts, such as property transactions, may require a wet signature by law.

  • France: France requires wet signatures for many types of contracts, including commercial leases, employment agreements, and real estate transactions. While electronic signatures are permitted, they are subject to strict requirements and may not be accepted in all cases.

  • Germany: In Germany, wet signatures are generally required for all types of commercial contracts, although electronic signatures are becoming more accepted. However, some types of contracts, such as real estate transactions, may require a wet signature by law.

  • Japan: In Japan, wet signatures are still the norm for most commercial contracts, although electronic signatures are becoming more accepted. However, certain types of contracts, such as property transactions, may require a wet signature by law.

  • Australia: Australia generally allows for the use of electronic signatures in commercial contracts, although wet signatures may still be required in some cases. For example, property transactions often require a wet signature, and certain industries may have specific requirements for the use of wet signatures.

  • China: In China, wet signatures are generally required for most commercial contracts. While electronic signatures are permitted, they are subject to strict requirements and may not be accepted in all cases.

  • India: In India, wet signatures are still the norm for most commercial contracts, although electronic signatures are becoming more accepted. However, certain types of contracts, such as property transactions, may require a wet signature by law.

When push comes to shove you’ll need to get contracts in place that are valid for both you and your customer. There are a few circumstances where customers will ask you for the use of wet signatures for commercial contracts and this varies from country to country. While many countries still require wet signatures for certain types of contracts, the use of electronic signatures is becoming the norm as technology continues to advance. They just easier when you are scaling contracting processes. As a result, it is important for businesses and individuals to be aware of the requirements for wet signatures in the countries where they are expanding and starting to sell, and to stay up to date with any changes in regulations regarding the use of electronic signatures. One of the core things to keep in mind when it comes to wet signatures is that it will slow your SaaS contract process down significantly. You’ll need to courier documents around to each party, so just keep this in mind when you’re looking at your potential deal close dates.


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A contract management system built for startups to manage, negotiate and report on their SaaS contracts.

Contract Sent is not a law firm, this post and subsequent pages on this website do not constitute or contain legal advice. To understand whether or not the ideas and guidance on the Contract Sent website is applicable to your business, you should consult with a licensed attorney. The use and accessing of any resources contained within the Contract Sent site do not create an attorney-client relationship between the user and Contract Sent.

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