The Australian Government is working to make it easier and more reliable to use electronic communications in business and personal transactions. This includes a commitment to provide government services online wherever possible.
The Electronic Transactions Act 1999 ensures that a transaction under a Commonwealth law will not be invalid simply because it was conducted through electronic communication.
If a Commonwealth law requires you to:
- give information in writing
- provide a handwritten signature
- produce a document in material form
- record or retain information
the Electronic Transactions Act means you can do these things electronically.
The Act applies to all laws of the Commonwealth unless they are specifically exempted by the Electronic Transactions Regulations 2020.
If a law is exempt you may still have to use paper forms or retain paper-based information. Most exemptions can be found in Schedule 1 of the Regulations.
Find out more about electronic transactions in the download below:
Australia is currently considering acceding to the United Nations Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts. You can find out more about the convention and the effect accession would have on Australia's laws on the United Nations Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts page.
Uniform electronic transactions in the states and territories
Each state and territory has its own Electronic Transactions Act, which generally mirrors the Commonwealth Electronic Transactions Act. If you need to know if you can do business electronically under a state or territory law, check the electronic transactions legislation in your relevant state or territory:
- Australian Capital Territory
- New South Wales
- Northern Territory
- South Australia
- Western Australia.