Have you heard of the electronic ID card (eID)? We firmly believe that you also own one. Everyone who has acquired an ID card since 2021 has also acquired the possibility of an electronic signature. At the same time, anyone who owns an eID can activate access to an electronic mailbox on the www.slovensko.sk portal, where you can handle communication with the state from the comfort of your home. For individuals, it is possible to sign documents using their e-signature, which cannot be forged. For sole traders (self-employed persons) it is still optional to activate the electronic mailbox , but they are obliged to communicate with the tax administration electronically (e.g. filing a tax return) and they are also not obliged to use an electronic signature, a physical one is sufficient. The obligation for legal entities and companies to have an e-mailbox is in full force and effect. Inherently associated with legal entities is the electronic seal, used to authenticate and verify the origin of electronic documents.
This is all that today’s modern, electronic age offers us. It is regulated by law under the European Union’s Trust Services Act.
What does eIDAS mean?
eIDAS is a European Regulation on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market and about repealing Directive 1999/93/ES. The aim of eIDAS is to harmonise the requirements for the mutual recognition of electronic identification across EU Member States.
The main objectives of eIDAS are:
- To facilitate the transfer of electronic trust services between EU Member States.
- To strengthen trust in electronic transactions and communication.
- To ensure equal use of electronic identifications across the EU.
- To promote electronic identification and authentication to simplify processes and transactions in the digital environment.
Thanks to eIDAS, it is possible to use electronic means of identification (e.g. electronic ID cards or signature certificates) from one EU country in other member states. In this way, eIDAS supports the European Digital Single Market and facilitates electronic interaction between citizens, businesses and public authorities across the EU.
How will I use eID in practice?
The gateway to the electronic world for the citizens of the Slovak Republic is the website www.slovensko.sk. This site serves as the central portal of public administration. eID can be used everywhere since 2013, for example, when dealing with:
- Change of permanent residence – thanks to the eID, you do not have to visit the Police Department in your district town to get a new ID card, but you do have to pick it up in person.
- Social assistance – from the comfort of your home you can arrange a change of place of payment of social benefits, a parking card for a disabled person, parental allowance, material need allowance, personal assistance, etc.
- Access to the electronic mailbox and other electronic services on the central portal of public administration can be found here.
What do BOK and electronic communication have in common?
For the electronic communication you need to have active eID. You also need a smart card reader, adequate software, a currently valid certificate and a personal security code (BOK). This confirms the identity of the eID holder in e-communications with public authorities and also with legal entities or even individuals. The BOK is simply the code or password to your ID card . It protects the ID card and its discrete data. You can enter an incorrect code up to 5 times, once this limit is exceeded, only the local police branch can unblock your access.
Electronic signature options
Nowadays, you can replace physical signing of documents with the option of a single, electronic signature using an eID. In short, an electronic signature, also known as an e-signature, is a modern encryption technique that is used to verify the authenticity, integrity and irrevocability of signatures on electronic documents. This electronic record serves to ensure that the document has not been altered since it was signed and that it comes directly from the author. The electronic signature is unique for each document and ensures its immutability. It is governed by the EU eIDAS Regulation and their applicable standards for electronic signatures. There are four levels of signatures, one of which is obsolete and no longer in use.
- Simple electronic signature (SES): is based on the electronic data associated with a document and used to verify the identity of the person who signed the document. Although it is really simple, it has legal effects. A simple electronic signature applies to natural persons, to Ltd or to others. A simple electronic signature is for everyone.
- Advanced electronic signature (AES): provides a higher level of security compared to a simple signature. It uses special certificates that provide stronger authentication of the signer and guarantee the irrevocability of the signature.
- Qualified Electronic Signature (QES): is the highest level of electronic signature under eIDAS. Qualified certificates issued by trusted e-signature service providers are used for its creation. A qualified signature has the same legal meaning and value as a notarised signature.
- Guaranteed electronic signature: is no longer used in electronic communication and has been replaced by the QES. Guaranteed electronic signature served as the equivalent of a traditional paper signature that you would otherwise use at a notary public, registry office, or when dealing with a clerk at an office.
How to make an electronic signature?
There is a handy guide at www.slovensko.sk on how you can make an electronic signature and how to use it correctly when signing documents, for example PDFs. The exact procedure and instructions on how to make an electronic signature can be found at the link here. For more information on e-signing, please visit www.nfqes.com.
Electronic mailbox options
The mailbox provided by the State is a qualified electronic mailbox. Such electronic mailbox is a secure and private mailbox for receiving, sending and storing electronic messages and documents. It is an online tool that serves to simplify, speed up and secure communication. In many countries, including the Slovak Republic, the electronic mailbox is a tool for communication with public institutions and authorities. Each person, company or organisation is assigned its own unique identification data for accessing its electronic mailbox. For natural persons as well as for small tradesmen, there is no obligation to have an electronic mailbox, although it is recommended. For legal entities, the e-mailbox is mandatory. A qualified electronic mailbox is used for communication with the State.
Electronic mailbox for directors Ltd
For legal entities, the obligation of an electronic mailbox arises due to electronic communication with public administration authorities. The obligation arises in the following points:
- Tax office and its portal – communication with the tax office,
- Social Insurance Office and its portal – communication with the Social Insurance Office,
- Signing documents – using electronic signature thanks to eID.
In this case, it is possible to authorise another person or company to handle and manage your electronic mailbox. On the slovensko.sk portal, the process is very long and complicated, so you should use your own eID to set up the electronic mailbox and dispose with it.
Electronic seal options
An electronic seal, also known as an e-seal, is a digital identification tool that verifies the authenticity and origin of signatures on electronic documents and messages. Like an electronic signature, an e-seal serves to ensure the integrity of the signature of documents and their irrevocability. The main difference between an electronic signature and an electronic seal is in who uses them. An electronic signature is individual and linked to the person signing the document, which allows the identity of the person signing to be verified. An electronic seal, on the other hand, is collective and associated with a legal person, organisation or institution. An electronic seal is used by organisations to officially validate and authenticate documents, thus giving the documents a legal basis while guaranteeing their integrity and authenticity. Like electronic signatures, electronic seals are regulated within the EU by the eIDAS Regulation, which sets out specifics for their use and recognition in a cross-border context. This ensures the trust and legal validity of electronic documents within the EU.
What do they have in common and what are the differences between an electronic signature, a seal and a mailbox?
In the article we have discussed in detail, what the concept of electronic signature, seal and mailbox means. They are all cryptographic tools that can be used by a natural person, a sole trader, a company director or a legal entity.
The electronic signature is at the level of a paper signature and may be used by natural persons and entrepreneurs. What does it have in common with an electronic seal? An electronic seal for legal entities must be purchased. Some institutions use an electronic seal automatically. The Civil Code for the territory of the Slovak Republic makes no distinction between documents that bear an electronic signature or an electronic seal. In the eyes of civil law, they have the same effect. The submission of a document that is signed with an e-seal can be confirmed, in accordance with the eIDAS Regulation, that the electronic document has not been altered or modified in any way after the e-seal has been affixed and that it originates from the person who authorised the document. For e-seals, it is clear that a natural person cannot dispose of it. However, the rules of correct use and, in particular, being prudent also apply to legal entities. Seals have a specific purpose, just like signatures, so it is not advisable to confuse them and it is recommended to use them exactly for the purpose for which they are intended.
Additional questions and answers
For additional information on electronic seal and signature, please visit the Electronic Signature and Electronic Seal sections on portal www.nfqes.sk. In addition to basic information, you will learn about the different enterprise solutions, what the additional benefits are and what services we can provide if you are unsure or want to put yourself in the hands of top experts. In addition, you can find interesting articles about information technology and cybersecurity on the portal. If you have any other questions, there is a contact form on this link where you can let us know and we will get back to you as soon as possible.