Electronic document authentication in practice: the AVDH service

Electronic documents can be authenticated with ease and for free of charge with the Identification Based Document Authentication (AVDH) service, with no need to print the documents, sign them by hand, and have no need for two witnesses. This article shows the operation of the service through practical examples.

 

What does an authenticated document mean?

The signature on a document indicates that the document is authentic, genuine, the signer made the statement, the document comes from the signer who agrees with and accepts its contents. Paper-based documents are authenticated with a signature, which also protects against future changes. In an electronic document, the electronic signature or the authentication with the AVDH service serves the same.

 

What does the „identification based” mean?

An electronic signature certificate is usually required to sign an electronic document, but only a few people have that. The AVDH service provides a possibility for them to authenticate documents. To use the service, the person making the declaration needs nothing but electronic identification for which, only the username and password of the Client Gate is required. The user is identified by providing the Client Gate login details, after which AVDH authenticates the document.

 

Is it legally accepted?

Documents authenticated with AVDH are considered a private deed of full probative value, meaning that in case of a dispute, the court accepts it as evidence that can be considered genuine. The advantage of authentication with AVDH is that there is no need for two witnesses for the statement.

The usability (legal effect) of a document authenticated with AVDH is the same as, for example, paper-based documents signed by two witnesses. However, it is more convenient and simpler to use as there is no need to look for witnesses, printing, mailing or handling a case in person.

(By legal effect, we mean that the statement is made to create, terminate, or change rights or obligations.)

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, it is crucial to reduce personal contact. If possible, please use electronic administration services, electronic signature or the AVDH service instead of personal administration or signing and mailing paper-based documents.

 

How can the service be used?

The authentication can be initiated on the https://magyarorszag.hu/szuf_avdh_feltoltes page by uploading the file to be authenticated.

 

Authentic PDF files can be created from PDF documents up to a size limit of 20 megabytes. PDF documents with larger file size and all other file types must be authenticated by clicking on the ASIC format, where the size limit is 200 megabytes. The ASIC option should also be selected if the document is already authenticated electronically with an electronic signature, stamp, or AVDH (for example, by another person/organisation).

After uploading the file, the user’s authentication is required by logging in with the Client Gate username and password.

 

 

At the end of the authentication process, the authenticated file can be downloaded, or it can be requested to send an URL via e-mail from where the authenticated document can be downloaded. The system then sends an e-mail with a link to download the authenticated file within 24 hours.

If you want to send the document to a service provider, you can also enter the service provider’s e-mail address. However, the link is only available for 24 hours, so if the service provider does not open it during this time, it cannot download the file later. Before sending the authenticated file, please consult with the recipient about the sending process.

 

For more information about the usage of the authentication, please consult the “User’s Guide”.

 

How does the service work?

After logging in, the AVDH service puts the identified person’s details in a certificate attached to the original document. This certificate, which contains personal data, certifies who the person making the statement is. (For PDF documents, the certificate can be viewed by clicking on the paper clip icon in Adobe Reader.)

 

 

The service provides the original document together with the certificate with an electronic stamp and a timestamp. The valid AVDH stamp certifies, on the one hand, that the document has been authenticated with AVDH and, on the other hand, that the content of the document/declaration and the certificate have not changed since the authentication, meaning it has not been falsified. The timestamp confirms the exact date of the authentication.

The content, validity and date of the AVDH stamp can be verified with electronic signature verification or verification supporting applications (for example, at the https://keaesz.gov.hu site).

The service also places a visible, graphic (so-called visual) element on PDF documents. This item is for informational purposes only and is not the same as the stamp:

 

 

However, by clicking on the visual element, essential information about the AVDH stamp can be viewed:

 

Attention! With the Client Gate username and password, it is possible to create an authenticated document, for instance, to establish a contract. Therefore, it is crucial NOT to give the Client Gate login details to anyone, as they may misuse it and make statements on behalf of the Client Gate’s owner. If you think that your password has been revealed, change it immediately at the https://ugyfelkapu.gov.hu website.

 

In what cases can the AVDH service be used?

The AVDH service can be used in most cases where a natural person has to make a declaration electronically, e.g. when a private deed of full probative value must be presented.

Here are some examples of that:

Public administration

In public administration, it is usually possible to manage cases fully electronically. Only a few cases cannot be handled electronically, and the number is decreasing. Public administration offices are required by law to provide the possibility of electronic administration.

Most administration services already have built-in AVDH authentication, such as the forms available on the magyarorszag.hu website, the letters sent through the epapir.gov.hu service, or the forms of the E-government portal providing local government administration.

Thus, it is unnecessary to authenticate the documents you want to attach to the forms in advance when using these services. AVDH authentication can be done automatically during the upload and dispatch.

 

Public service providers and other service providers

Many service providers already have an option of electronic administration, thus replacing personal appearances and paper-based statements. In these cases,  service providers also accept documents authenticated with AVDH.

For example:

Service providers, such as banks, insurance companies, telephone companies, often ask for our statements, like extending the loyalty period or accepting a more favourable offer. In this case, it is unnecessary to print, sign and mail the document; AVDH authentication may be sufficient.

 

Important! In the case of market service providers, electronic administration may be different; therefore, for accurate information on the acceptance of electronic signatures and AVDH authentication, please contact the service provider.

In contrast to the previous practice, some service providers accept electronically (e.g. with AVDH) authenticated documents due to the pandemic situation from which they inform their customers by e-mail or on their website.

 

Statements between individuals

As an individual, we may need to include something in a private deed of full probative value several times. For example, we authorise a colleague to take over an employment certificate issued by our employer. It is difficult to give the authorisation during a vacation abroad; however, the AVDH signature can still be used. AVDH is also useful if we lend a small amount to an acquaintance. It may not be possible to find two witnesses in this case, but a sample contract can be found on the Internet with ease, and after the completion, only an electronic signature or an AVDH authentication is required to have an authentic document.

However, there are cases where the law precludes using only electronic signatures or AVDH authentication or using documents authenticated with these, such are family law and inheritance law statements (e.g., marriage, adoption, will).

The AVDH service provides the opportunity to make electronic declarations primarily as a natural person.

The AVDH service in itself cannot be used to authenticate a declaration made on behalf of an economic organisation, so in this case, the acting entity must check the legal or transactional representation of the natural person declaring on behalf of the economic organisation in the public register (company register) or the Disposition Register. Or if the procedural capacity cannot be verified based on these registers, by requesting a supporting document. One reason for this is that the certificate does not state the organisation the natural person makes/can make a statement on behalf of the user’s role in the given organisation.

In the case of electronic signatures, the law regulates what qualifies as the proper signature of the person authorised to sign on behalf of the company, but in the case of AVDH authentication, it does not.

However, for the state of danger, Government Decree 102/2020 (10 April) made it possible for legal persons and members of legal persons to use the AVDH service for their declarations.

Besides, the AVDH service is provided by the service provider primarily for electronic administration purposes. It is recommended to use own certified electronic signature certificate service instead of the AVDH  (e.g. eID signature for private purposes up to a limit of HUF 50 million) to sign larger commitments. In the case of certified electronic signature certificates, the trust service providers are liable for damages for the errors caused, regulated by law.