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Time Stamping : what it is and how it works

Time stamping is the process of generating and affixing a time stamp on a document, either digital or electronic. The time stamping process consists in the generation, by a trusted third party, of a “digital signature of the document” which is associated with the information relating to a certain date and time.

The affixing of the time stamp makes it possible to establish the existence of an IT document starting from a certain instant and to guarantee its validity over time.


How does digital marking work?

When the user with his software starts the process of affixing the time stamp on the digital document, a request containing a series of information is automatically sent to the Accredited Certifying Body which simultaneously verifies the correctness of the information request, generates the timestamp and returns it to the user. This automatic and immediate process guarantees the safety and validity of the marking process.


Time stamp validation: regulatory references

The Digital Administration Code defines time stamping as "the result of the IT procedure with which a date and time that can be opposed to third parties is attributed to one or more IT documents." (Article 1, Paragraph 1, Letter bb CAD - Legislative Decree 7 March 2005, n. 82).

Still in the CAD, art. 20, paragraph 3 defines the legal value of the time stamp and in fact establishes that "the date and time of formation of the IT document are opposable to third parties if affixed in accordance with the technical rules on time validation."

The technical rules for the implementation of the CAD on time validation are defined by the Prime Ministerial Decree of 22 February 2013 (GU General Series n.117 of 21-5-2013) and in particular:

  • Article 41 defines the cases in which time references are opposable to third parties:

  • Articles 47-54 define the rules for time stamping.


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What information is contained in the timestamp?

A timestamp contains the following information:

  • time stamp serial number;

  • identification of the issuer;

  • time stamp subscription algorithm;

  • identification of the certificate relating to the verification key of the time stamp;

  • time reference of the generation of the time stamp;

  • identifier of the hash function used to generate the imprint of the computer evidence subjected to time validation;

  • footprint value of computerized evidence.


When to time stamp an electronic document

The affixing of a time stamp on an electronic document makes it possible to give a “certain date” to the document with probative value, that is to associate a legally certain date and time to an electronic document that can be opposed to third parties.

For this reason, the cases in which the use of time stamps is indicated are those in which it is necessary to have a certain and legally valid date, for example:

  • credit issuance requests

  • medium / long-term loans for businesses

  • requests for advance on supplies / exports

  • risk assessment document

  • contracts with customers and suppliers

The benefits of using time stamping in documents

The digitized procedures to certify a time validation are simple, safe, effective and efficient procedures. They allow to generate significant savings both tangible and intangible (reduction of costs and processing times of paper, cancellation of stamp and stamp costs, process optimization, reduction of errors, significant contribution to the green economy, greater security, transparency and legal value compared to paper scope).



Access to the service

The JoinSign service also offers a storage of signed documents and a verification of the status of each document sent for signature.

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