How to get a French electronic signature?
To participate in some public calls for tender in France, Swiss companies need to have a French electronic signature. Here is how it works...
In France, some public calls for tender require the use of a French electronic signature. This should comply with the French standard, the RGS (general security reference system). Swiss companies that do not have subsidiaries in France can order this signature from accredited French suppliers, such as: Certigreffe - le certificat électronique des Greffes des Tribunaux de Commerce (only in French), Dhimyotis - Signature électronique, authentification, horodatage et chiffrement (only in French).
Even when an electronic signature is not mandatory, private companies are entitled to send a digital offer, since the French State may not refuse an electronic quotation.
Procedure to be followed to acquire an electronic signature
- Application: The company applies to the French supplier for an electronic signature. At this stage, it provides documents proving that it is registered with the Trade Register in Switzerland.
- PIN: A PIN, necessary to activate the electronic signature, is sent by post by the third-party body called CertEurope. This PIN is sent anonymously to the company's registered office, for example, in an envelope without any logo.
- Getting the IT pack: The company manager or the person representing them must go to France to get an IT pack comprising an installation CD and a USB flash drive. The supplier sends this to the point of collection, usually a commercial court.
- Installation: The company installs the electronic signature on one of its computers and activates it using the PIN. This computer will be the only computer able to send electronic bids. More than one pack will therefore be required to use the electronic signature from different devices.
Cost of procedure: approximately €300 for three years, and can be renewed. The French RGS electronic signature has been recognized throughout the European Union since 2013.