All-new Adobe PDF Electronic Seal API scales PDF authenticity across the enterprise

Image of a medical professional holding phone with certified screen on the phone.

With an estimated 3 trillion PDFs worldwide, the file format continues to be ubiquitous in any organization today. The most critical business data such as financial statements, sales contracts, invoices, etc. is often in PDF documents. Last year, more than 400 billion PDFs were opened in Adobe products.

And yet, a vast majority of public-facing PDFs are editable. With the rise of digital transformation, there has also been an increase in cyber fraud and fraudulent documents. In 2022, 52 percent of the surveyed large enterprises had experienced fraud in the last two years. And consumers lost $660 million in the same year due to business imposters. Forgery techniques have been getting more sophisticated as well. The most frequently manipulated documents include tax forms, business filings, and bank statements.

Unauthentic documents with inaccurate information can lead to financial losses and fraudulent business transactions. They can also impact the brand reputation of an organization negatively and erode customer trust. In such an environment, ensuring the authenticity of documents is becoming increasingly critical. This is where electronic sealing can help.

When an electronic seal is applied to a document, it provides authenticity and a sense of trust for critical documents such as statements, bills, invoices, verification letters, etc. Government regulations like eIDAS in the EU have also underlined the value for enterprises to apply seals with legal recognition to its documents. The new Adobe PDF Electronic Seal API is a cloud-based, end-to-end solution for applying electronic seals on PDFs at scale, demonstrating the integrity and authenticity of PDFs.

What is an Electronic Seal?

Electronic seals, also known as e-seals, are akin to an organization’s rubber stamp, but instead of physical stamp, organizations can apply its seal to a document electronically. When a document has an electronic seal, it virtually demonstrates authenticity and integrity of the content of the document as well as verifies the identity of the origin of the document. Once the electronic seal is applied to the document, the contents of the document become tamper evident.

The main difference between an e-seal and an e-signature is that an e-signature is meant for individuals (natural persons), whereas an e-seal is used by a legal entity (business or organization). Another difference is that an e-signature is an agreement from the signatory to the content of the document whereas an e-seal demonstrates the authenticity and identity of the organization originating the document, as mentioned above.

Electronically seal documents at scale

The Adobe PDF Electronic Seal API applies an e-seal to PDF documents using a third-party digital certificate to:

The digital certificate can be obtained from certain TSPs (Trust Service Providers) on the AATL (Adobe Approved Trust List) that support OAuth authentication.

The PDF Electronic Seal API is the only API offered by a PDF solution provider that enables end-to-end automated workflow without the need for any hardware-based modules. Organizations can apply an e-seal to documents, such as invoices, statements, etc. at scale by adding the API to document workflows.

Example of an invoice sealed by Townsend.

With this API, you can upload a PDF document, provide a customized e-seal image, specify third-party digital certificate credentials, and even provide the coordinates for a visual e-seal to be applied to the document.

Compliance with eIDAS

The use of electronic seals that are compliant with eIDAS, are becoming more prevalent in the EU. According to the eIDAS regulation, electronic seals should serve as evidence that an electronic document was issued by a legal person, ensuring certainty of the document’s origin and integrity. The PDF Electronic Seal API can be used to apply “Simple" Electronic Seals, Advanced Electronic Seals (AdES), and Qualified Electronic Seals (QES) compliant with elDAS.

E-seal Verification

When an e-sealed PDF is opened in Adobe Acrobat, users can verify the e-seal and view the tamper-evident credentials. In case the document has been tampered with after the e-sealing, the blue bar at the top will reflect that the certification is invalid.

Example of document that has been e-sealed.

Some common use cases for e-sealing include bills, invoices, employee verification documents, technical reports, etc., but many business documents across different teams can benefit from being electronically sealed. Enterprises can reduce some of the risks associated with fraudulent documents by making critical documents tamper evident with the help of an e-seal.

Try the PDF Electronic Seal API today

Check out the Adobe PDF Electronic Seal API demo or sign up for the free tier that offers 500 transactions per month. For more details, refer to the documentation. A Microsoft Power Automate connector for e-sealing is also available in beta right now.

This API is a part of the Adobe PDF Services API, which includes additional APIs for document authentication , such as the Secure PDF API to set a password or certain restrictions on a PDF.