Filing documents with electronic signatures

When and how your signature is applied

The Companies Office accepts electronic signatures on documents that currently require a conventional signature. Before submitting your documents, make sure you've read and understood our standards for using electronic signatures.

Laws governing electronic signatures

Documents traditionally signed by hand can be filed using an electronic signature. An electronic signature is defined under Section 209 of the Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017.

When you can use an electronic signature

You can only file documents and information with us using an electronic signature if you're the signatory, or have authority to act on behalf of the signatory, and are:

  • using one of our online services, and
  • using software that complies with our standards, in particular keeping records of transactions where an electronic signature has been used.

Controlling when and how your signature is used

Once a document with your electronic signature has been filed with us, we consider the information:

  • has been provided with your full knowledge and agreement
  • is authentic and accurate
  • wasn't amended after your electronic signature was added to the document, unless a change has been clearly marked on the document.

You're responsible for:

  • safeguarding how and when your electronic signature and credentials are used on documents and information
  • managing who has authority to use your electronic signature on your behalf, for example, a chartered accountant.

If your electronic signature on a document or information is filed with us, you won't be able to dispute having signed and approved the document or information.

If we question the authenticity of an electronic signature or online transaction, you must be able to demonstrate on request the validity of the software used to apply your electronic signature to the document.

Keeping records

You must use electronic signature software that captures authentication, time and source details for any online transaction where a document with your electronic signature has been filed.

These details must be held within the software itself, in the form of a file that:

  • is maintained in its original form with no amendments, and
  • can be provided to us, if requested, within a specified time.

The file must be treated as a record, as defined by the Companies Act 1993, and a business record as defined by the Evidence Act 2006.

All help topics

Before you start a company 5 guides

Get an overview of how companies are structured, find out about the company records you need to keep, and what's involved when you incorporate with and report to the Companies Office.

Shares and shareholders 7 guides

When you incorporate, you must provide details of all company shares and shareholders. As changes occur, you must update this information on your own share register and in your company's annual return.

Company directors 7 guides

Directors have responsibilities to their company and shareholders, and under the Companies Act 1993. You must register all your directors with the Companies Office and they must sign a consent form.​

Filing annual returns 7 guides

Find out about filing an annual return — the information you need to update, how to change your filing month or request a time extension — and what happens if you don't file your annual return by the due date.

Complying with the law 11 guides

Financial reporting 7 guides

Restoring a company to the register 4 guides

Only some companies can be reinstated to the Companies Register once they've been removed. Find out who can apply, what evidence to provide and if you should apply to the Registrar or the High Court.

Getting support to use the Companies Register 6 guides