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Electronic signatures, documents and transactions

Understanding the Electronic Transactions Act 1999

The Electronic Transactions Act 1999 (or the ETA) is a law that confirms that many paper document processes (like signing or sending documents) are just as legally valid when completed or communicated electronically. 

The ETA only applies to Commonwealth laws and can be exempted. States and territories have their own Electronic Transactions Acts which may apply to their laws. See Exemptions to the ETA to find out more about exemptions and state and territory ETAs.

Note: These pages contain guidance information and summary materials only. These pages do not constitute legal advice, and do not comprehensively cover all sections of the ETA. If you require more detailed information, or if these matters are important to you, you should review the ETA using the links below or seek legal advice.

In this section…

The ETA confirms the default rule that signatures can be made electronically as well as in ‘wet ink’. 

The ETA confirms the default rule that documents and written information can be sent and recorded electronically as well as in paper form.

Understand how choice and consent apply to electronic processes.

Check situations where the ETA does not apply, including exempted legislation and state and territory processes.

Resources for Australian Government agencies

Australian Government agencies can rely on the ETA to validate electronic processes under legislation, and can also disapply the ETA in some circumstances. Our ETA Guide for Policy and Legislation Designers offers suggestions for Commonwealth policy designers on how to apply the ETA in a consistent and transparent way [coming soon].