Guidelines for Accepting Digital or Electronic Signatures

In general, North Carolina law recognizes the validity of electronic or digital signatures for contracts or other legally binding documents (N.C. Gen. Stat. ยง 66-58.1, et seq.).  However, for a public agency like UNC Charlotte to accept electronic or digital signatures, several criteria must be met. 

Please adhere to the following guidelines when contracting with another entity or receiving any forms or documentation requiring a signature.  If you have questions about the acceptability of any signature, contact the Office of Legal Affairs (x7-5732).

General Rule:

When negotiating a contract, both parties must agree that utilizing digital or electronic signatures is acceptable for the particular agreement.  Therefore, if any University unit head or supervisor does not want to accept a digital or electronic signature from the other party, he/she may make that decision for the unit and require hardcopy documents with original handwritten ink signatures.

Acceptable digital/electronic signatures:

  • A handwritten signature on a document is valid, including when the entire document is scanned or faxed to the university.
  • A graphic image of a signature placed on a document using secure software that verifies the identity of the user on the other end (e.g. DocuSign) is valid.
  • For student or employee signatures, marks, initials, or checkboxes are valid only if:
    • The student or employee is required to log in to the signature form utilizing their NinerNet credentials; AND
    • The electronic signature is captured in a secure audit trail that provides clear, easily producible evidence that the student or employee logged in with their NinerNet credentials and indicated their assent.

Unacceptable digital/electronic signatures:

  • A graphic image of a signature placed on a document and not verified by secure software is not valid.
  • A typewritten name, regardless of font, that has not been verified by secure software or through NinerNet authentication is not valid.

 

September 2016