Types of Legal Signatures Accepted by Jurisdiction

Types of Legal Signatures Accepted by Jurisdiction

For those of us who prepare and submit corporate business filings, such as incorporations, foreign registrations, dissolutions, withdrawals, mergers, etc., keeping track of signature requirements is no easy task. While, electronic signatures are widely accepted in the legal and real estate industries, corporate business filing signature requirements vary greatly. It is hard to believe that Arkansas, Maine and Wyoming still require original signatures on some, if not all, corporate business filings in 2020, but they do. Then there’s Massachusetts, which allows electronic and scanned signatures if fax filed, but in person filings still require original signatures. Yikes! The variances in each of the fifty states are dizzying and ever-changing.

Please note, for the purposes of this post, annual report filings are not considered “corporate business filings.”  Mainly, with the exception of perhaps Illinois, when changes to an annual report are required, annual reports can be filed online nationwide and signed by electronic signature.

For ease of filing, it is important to keep up-to-date with constantly changing state signature requirements.


Types of Legal Signatures

Electronic Signature: DocuSign, HelloSign, and Adobe Acrobat make it easy to obtain electronic signatures. In states where e-signatures are acceptable, business filings are easily completed. However, as of today, e-signatures are not acceptable in all states. So, the next best thing is the conformed signature.

Conformed Signature (aka the “s-signature”): A conformed signature indicates that an original executed copy of the document is maintained with the company records, which may be an electronic signature. It has long been used in court and federal agency filings, such as the USPTO. It’s a nice option for some state business filings – in particular: Delaware, Nevada, Nebraska, New York, Texas and Utah.

A conformed signature is a typewritten signature that is as follows:

/s/ John Doe
John Doe, [title]

Scanned Signature: When conformed and electronic signatures are not acceptable, scanning a copy of a signed business filing is the next best thing. Thankfully, the vast majority of states do accept high quality scanned copies, except of course, the few states where original signatures are still required.

Keeping Up-To-Date With Legal Signatures

Until technology catches up to all 50 states, how will you keep it all straight? You can start by downloading the Velawcity Business Filing Options Chart, and certainly feel free to contact Velawcity for the latest information or questions about any particular state.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered, or relied upon, as legal advice.

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