Wet Signature vs Electronic Signature

Explore the differences between wet signatures and electronic signatures in our comprehensive blog. Learn about the advantages, legal implications, and the evolution of signatures in the digital era


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In the realm of agreements and transactions, signatures serve as the bedrock of trust and consent. Traditionally, this has meant putting pen to paper, a method known as a wet signature. However, in our digital age, electronic signatures have emerged as a compelling alternative, blending convenience with legality. This blog delves into the nuances of wet and electronic signatures, unravelling their advantages, disadvantages, and the legal tapestry that governs their use.

Wet Signature: A wet signature is created when a person physically marks a document with their signature using a pen or similar implement. This method is as old as written agreements themselves, serving as a personal seal of approval and identity verification.

Electronic Signature: An electronic signature, on the other hand, involves the use of digital tools to create a signature on electronic documents. It can range from a digitized image of a handwritten signature to a typed name, depending on the platform and legal requirements.

Historically, wet signatures were unrivalled in their legal acceptance and trustworthiness. However, the advent of the internet and digital transactions necessitated the evolution of signatures, leading to the widespread adoption and legal recognition of electronic signatures in the early 21st century.

What is a wet signature?

A wet signature, also known as a traditional handwritten signature, is a person's signature written by hand with ink or a similar substance on a physical document. The term "wet" refers to the fact that the ink is still wet when applied to the paper. Wet signatures are typically used to signify agreement, authorization, or consent on various types of documents, such as contracts, agreements, forms, letters, or legal documents.

Wet signatures have been a standard method of signing documents for centuries and are often considered legally binding evidence of a person's intent to be bound by the contents of the document. They provide tangible evidence of consent and are often required in situations where authentication and verification of identity are crucial, such as legal agreements or official documents.

When is a wet signature still necessary?

 A wet signature should still be used in specific situations where it is legally required or preferred. Despite the prevalence of electronic signatures, there are instances where a wet signature is necessary to make a document legally binding. Some scenarios that may necessitate a wet signature include:

  • Documents pertaining to wills, trusts, adoptions, divorce proceedings, court orders, evictions, and insurance benefits.
  • Transactions involving the transfer of property ownership.
  • Tax-related documents in certain countries like the UK.
  • Legal documents such as promissory notes, deeds of trust, notarized documents, and mortgage papers.

In these cases, a wet signature is essential to ensure the validity and enforceability of the document. It is crucial to adhere to the specific requirements of each jurisdiction and the nature of the document to determine when a wet signature is still necessary for legal compliance and authenticity

Can you use BoloForms for a wet signature?

BoloForms Signature is primarily designed to manage electronic and digital signatures in the cloud. However, it also offers functionality to facilitate the collection and organization of wet signatures.

Imagine you're collaborating with someone who prefers signing agreements on paper. With BoloForms Signature, you can still efficiently send the agreement electronically, minimizing the risk of document loss during transit, whether through email or SMS delivery(via link).

Upon receipt, your recipient can fill in any required information electronically before printing the agreement for signature. After endorsing the document with their wet signature, they can simply scan it and upload it to the BoloForms Signature platform.

Saving scanned PDFs inside folders

Even when a wet signature is necessary, BoloForms Signature streamlines the document handling process, expediting initial delivery and enabling seamless management of documents for future reference.

Is a wet signature more secure than e-signatures?

Traditionally, wet signatures have been perceived as more secure than e-signatures due to their tangible nature and the historical process of verifying signatures through comparison and witness testimony. However, this perception is evolving as electronic signature technology advances.

In reality, e-signatures offer several security advantages over wet signatures. Contracts signed with BoloForms Signature ensure:

How is a Digital Signature more secure?
  1. Authentication Measures: E-signature platforms like BoloForms Signature employ robust authentication methods, including multi-factor authentication, to ensure the identity of signers. This helps prevent unauthorized access and signature forgery.
  2. Audit Trails: Electronic signature platforms generate detailed audit trails that record the signer's identity, timestamp, IP address, and actions taken during the signing process. These audit trails provide a comprehensive record of the signing event, making it easier to verify the authenticity of the signature if needed.
  3. Encryption: E-signature solutions use encryption to protect the integrity and confidentiality of signed documents during transmission and storage. This safeguards documents from unauthorized access or tampering.
  4. Document Integrity: E-signature platforms often employ mechanisms such as cryptographic hashing to ensure the integrity and security of signed documents. Any alteration to the document after signing will invalidate the signature, alerting parties to potential tampering.
  5. Legal Framework: Many jurisdictions have enacted laws and regulations, such as the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN) in the United States and the eIDAS Regulation in the European Union, that recognize the legal validity and enforceability of electronic signatures. These laws provide a framework for the use of e-signatures in various transactions, enhancing their security and acceptance.

While wet signatures may still be required or preferred in certain situations, such as those involving specific legal or regulatory requirements, e-signatures offer a secure and efficient alternative for many everyday transactions. As technology continues to evolve, e-signatures are becoming increasingly recognized as a secure and reliable method for signing documents.

What are the disadvantages of collecting a wet signature?

Collecting wet signatures, while a traditional and widely accepted practice, comes with several downsides:

  1. Time and Efficiency: Collecting wet signatures can be time-consuming, especially if multiple parties are involved or if the signatories are located in different geographical locations. Coordinating the signing process, mailing documents, and waiting for them to be returned can significantly delay the completion of transactions.
  2. Physical Storage and Handling: Wet-signed documents require physical storage space and careful handling to prevent damage, loss, or unauthorized access. Managing and organizing paper documents can be cumbersome, particularly for organizations dealing with large volumes of paperwork.
  3. Risk of Errors and Inconsistencies: Handwritten signatures are susceptible to variations and inconsistencies, making it challenging to ensure uniformity and clarity across all signed documents. Errors in the signing process, such as missing signatures or incomplete information, can lead to delays and disputes.
  4. Security Risks: Wet-signed documents face various security risks, including the potential for forgery, alteration, or unauthorized access during transit or storage. Despite efforts to safeguard physical documents, they remain vulnerable to theft, loss, or damage.
  5. Environmental Impact: The paper-based signing process contributes to environmental degradation through the consumption of paper, ink, and other resources. Additionally, the transportation and storage of paper documents generate carbon emissions and waste.
  6. Legal Recognition and Compliance: While wet signatures have long been accepted as a legally binding form of agreement, there may be situations where electronic signatures are preferred or required due to legal or regulatory considerations. Adhering to evolving compliance requirements and ensuring consistency with industry standards can pose challenges when relying solely on wet signatures.

Overall, while wet signatures have their place in certain contexts, organizations are increasingly turning to electronic signature solutions like BoloForms Signature to streamline the signing process, improve efficiency, enhance security, and reduce environmental impact.

Key Differences

The key differences between electronic signatures and wet signatures are as follows:

Form: Wet signatures are handwritten signatures made with ink on physical documents, while electronic signatures are digital representations of a person's signature created using electronic means, such as a stylus or mouse, on a digital document.

Process: Wet signatures require signatories to physically sign a document, which is then typically scanned or mailed to the recipient. Electronic signatures, on the other hand, are applied directly to digital documents using electronic signature software or platforms.

Authentication: Wet signatures rely on visual inspection and comparison to verify authenticity, whereas electronic signatures employ various authentication methods, such as passwords, biometrics, or cryptographic techniques, to ensure the identity of the signer.

Security: Wet signatures can be susceptible to forgery, alteration, or loss during transit or storage. Electronic signatures offer enhanced security features, including encryption, audit trails, and tamper-evident mechanisms, to safeguard the integrity and confidentiality of signed documents.

Efficiency: Collecting wet signatures can be time-consuming and resource-intensive, requiring physical delivery, printing, signing, and scanning of documents. Electronic signatures streamline the signing process, enabling faster turnaround times, reduced administrative burden, and improved efficiency in document management.

Legal Recognition: While wet signatures have long been recognized as legally binding in many jurisdictions, electronic signatures are also legally valid in numerous countries, thanks to legislation such as the ESIGN Act in the United States and the eIDAS Regulation in the European Union.

Environmental Impact: Wet signatures contribute to paper consumption, waste generation, and carbon emissions associated with document transportation. Electronic signatures offer a more sustainable alternative, reducing paper usage and promoting environmentally friendly practices.

Overall, electronic signatures offer numerous advantages over traditional wet signatures, including enhanced security, efficiency, and environmental sustainability, making them an increasingly preferred choice for businesses and individuals alike.

Key Differences


In conclusion, while wet signatures have been a longstanding method for validating agreements, their reliance on physical documents and manual processes presents several challenges in today's digital age. From inefficiencies in time and resource management to security risks and environmental concerns, the downsides of collecting wet signatures are becoming increasingly apparent.

As technology continues to evolve, electronic signature solutions like BoloForms Signature offer a compelling alternative, providing efficiency, security, and compliance advantages over traditional wet signatures. By leveraging electronic signatures, organizations can streamline their document workflows, enhance security measures, and reduce their environmental footprint while maintaining legal validity and authenticity.

In the face of these benefits, it's clear that electronic signatures represent the future of document management and signing processes, offering a more efficient, secure, and sustainable solution for businesses and individuals alike.


Paresh Deshmukh

Co-Founder, BoloForms

4 Jun, 2024

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