What is a Wet Signature? – When Should You Use One

A wet signature is a hand-written signature that has been transferred to paper by the use of an inkwell or by using water. The downside of collecting wet signatures is that they are more likely to smudge than digitally signed documents which can be printed out and then mailed or faxed. Wet signatures are also not as secure as digital ones, meaning if someone wanted to forge your agreement, all they would need are your wet signature on a piece of paper and their own pen!

What does wet signature mean?

A wet signature is a traditional method of signing a paper document where you actually sign your name in ink. It’s called “wet” because as you’re signing, the pen is still damp with ink and it transfers to the page below. Wet signatures are used heavily for legal documents such as contracts or property deeds.

Wet signatures are extremely difficult to forge, which is why they’re still in use for important legal documents. Forgery of a document with a wet signature can be punishable by law. A good practice when signing any paper document is to always have it notarized or signed in front of witnesses so that there’s no doubt about the authenticity of your signature.

How Do Wet Ink and Electronic Signatures Differ?

A wet signature is a traditional handwritten one that requires the author to use an ink pen.

In contrast, an electronic signature only involves entering information into a computer system or app and then signing it with your mouse or finger. For example, if you’re asked for your John Hancock on a bank document online, all you have to do is click “sign” using your mouse and enter in some personal info such as your name and birth date. That’s considered an electronic signature because there was no physical input other than touching the screen.

To be clear though: just because something has been digitally signed doesn’t mean it can’t also have a wet signature too! You could give someone access to certain files by emailing them digital copies but also signing an official letter of agreement with them.

So… when should you use a wet signature? Sometimes the only way to ensure legal validity is through physical signatures, so anytime that’s required it will be necessary for you to sign something in person! For example:

  • Applying for colleges/universities (can also submit online)
  • Government documents and forms
  • Employment contracts
  • Leases or rental agreements

When should you NOT use a wet signature? Electronic signatures are usually fine but sometimes they can’t be used instead. The reason why depends on what exactly your document contains; if anyone thing falls beyond the scope of electronic acceptance then all bets are off! Here are some examples of things where using an electronic signature wouldn’t be a good idea:

  • Insurance
  • Loans/mortgages

In most cases, you won’t have to deal with wet signatures. However, when one is required it’s important that you understand the process and what exactly your document entails! And if not, make sure to ask someone who does before signing anything! Even for simple contracts like renting an apartment or applying for colleges. Not understanding how something works could potentially cost you more money in the long run!

What are the bad things about collecting a wet signature?

There are two main reasons why a wet signature is bad. First, if the receiver of the document tries to change it after getting your original copy back, then they can’t because of how difficult it would be for them to remove all marks from their pen on the paper. Second, if you try and file a lawsuit against someone based on this contract or agreement that was signed with a wet signature but they deny signing it, there will not be any physical proof of who actually did sign in order to win your case. This makes collecting evidence harder than when using dry signatures which leave behind no trace at all.

Companies have had a lot of problems collecting wet signatures. It’s hard to get people’s wet signature when they’re wet.

  • Electronic signatures make the process take nine days less. Documents can be received, reviewed, and signed on a device all the time. When people sign wet signatures, it takes a long time because of delivery services and other things that happen.
  • There is not only the cost of the ink, paper, and overnight delivery service. You also need to think about lost revenue when it takes over a week to receive a signed contract. If your contracts arrive late, there could be time for a potential client to explore other options from your competitors.
  • When you send a document, will the person read it and sign it? They will be happy if they can do this without a lot of work. It is easier to sign a document online than print and mail it from home or office.
  • If you sign documents with a wet signature, take a picture of the paper and store it on your computer. If you need to find it again in the future, it will be easier.

What Led to the Shift Away From Wet Signatures?

Wet signatures are when people sign documents. This used to mean that people would put their pen on paper and sign it. This is not the only way, though. People can also put a seal-like they did in the Magna Carta which was signed by King John.

People started using the telegraph to send messages in Morse code during the Civil War. That was different from before when people signed wet signatures. But in 1869, the State of New Hampshire said that any agreement made this way is legally binding.

The arrival of the fax machine was really important. It meant people could sign a document and send it to someone else without needing to be there at the same time. This made it possible for people to have a legal agreement even if they are not in the same place.

When should you use a wet signature?

The United Nations passed a law about electronic signatures. Then the U.S. passed its own law, called the E-Sign Act, in 2000. The U.S.’s law is for all of America and other countries too, and it validates electronic contracts in commerce in these places.

Passing that law meant that wet and electronic signatures would have the same legal weight. But some organizations want to use a wet signature on certain types of things, like when they give out loans or buy stuff.

There are a few occasions when you need to get wet signatures. If someone is verifying someone’s identity, then they need the signature to be wet. It also needs to be done in America.

Signatures are needed for certain forms. They are used for wills, trusts, adoption papers, divorce papers, court orders, evictions and for insurance benefits.

If someone insists on a wet signature, then you should let them. This is the only way that some people will formally endorse a document.

When can wet signatures be replaced with electronic signatures?

Normally, you need wet signatures for certain things. But electronic signatures can replace them in many cases.

In the U.S. and other countries, electronic signatures can be as good as handwritten signatures. This is because of an act called ESIGN and UETA in the U.S., eIDAS in Europe, or similar laws everywhere else around the world.

But, just like everything in life, there are some exceptions to these laws.