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Decree Law No. 12/2021

Publication: Republic Diary No. 27/2021, Series I of 2021-02-09
  • Issuer: Presidency of the Council of Ministers
  • Diploma Type: Decree Law
  • Number: 12/2021
  • Pages: 4 - 16

Summary in plain english

What is it?

The decree-law was approved which:

    • Applies the European standards on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market;
    • Regulates the validity, effectiveness and probatory value of electronic documents, the recognition and means of electronic identification of natural and legal persons;
    • Envisages the rules applicable to the State Electronic Certification System - Public Key Infrastructure (SCEE).
What is going to change?

This decree-law applies:

    • To electronic documents drawn up by private individuals and the Public Administration;
    • To the electronic identification systems notified by the Member States of the European Union.
Electronic documents

The legal requirement of written form is observed when the content of the electronic document can be represented as a written statement.

The qualified electronic signature is equivalent to the holder's own handwritten signature on documents written on paper and should refer to a single natural person or representative of a legal person.

It establishes the division of responsibilities between national bodies in the supervision and verification of compliance with the Regulation, designating the competent authorities.

The National Security Office (GNS) is the supervisory body, responsible for granting qualified trust service provider status.

The Agency for Administrative Modernisation (AMA) is the competent entity for the notification of the electronic identification systems to the European Commission.

The Portuguese Accreditation Institute (IPAC) is responsible for accrediting conformity assessment bodies.

Trusted services

Public or private natural or legal persons providing one or more qualified or non-qualified trust services are trust service providers.

A qualified trust service provider shall, for example:

    • Adopt measures to prevent falsification or alteration of the data in the certificates;
    • Provide the information requested by the supervisory body and allow access to its premises and on-site examination of documents and equipment;
    • Guarantee the exclusivity of the signature creation data used to sign qualified certificates.

The status of qualified trust service provider is attributed by the supervising entity.

State Electronic Certification System (SECS) - Public Key Infrastructure

The SECS Managing Board is the organ responsible for the management and administration of the SECS.

It is responsible for defining the certification policy to be observed by the Certifying Entities.

It is presided by the Prime Minister and is composed of representatives from various entities. Amongst them:

    • AMA;
    • Management Centre for the Government Computer Network (CEGER);
    • Instituto dos Registos e do Notariado (Institute for Registries and Notary);
    • National Communications Authority;
    • Instituto de Gestão Financeira e Equipamentos da Justiça (Institute for Financial Management and Justice Equipment);
    • One representative of each State Certifying Entity.

The representatives of these entities are designated by the competent members of the Government.

The State Electronic Certification Entity is the top certifying service of the SECS certification chain.

It is responsible for executing the certificate policies and guidelines approved by the SECS Managing Board.

This decree-law defines the applicable sanctioning framework in case of infraction.

The sanctions vary between 500€ and 44 890€ (depending on whether the offender is a natural or legal person and whether we are dealing with a serious or very serious administrative offence).

The proceeds from the fines are distributed as follows: 60% for the State and 40% for the supervisory body. What advantages does it bring?

This decree-law guarantees increased trust and security of online transactions in the European Union, promoting greater use of these services by citizens, economic operators and the Public Administration.

This decree-law consolidates the existing legislation on the validity, effectiveness and evidential value of electronic documents and on the operation of the State Electronic Certification System (SCEE) - Public Key Infrastructure.

When does it enter into force?

This decree-law enters into force on 11 March 2021.

Original Version


  • Legal translator is the translation of texts within the field of law


Legislative consolidation integrates the various amendments and rectifications made into an original legal diploma in order to make its consultation more accessible to the citizen.