Time stamps and time stamping authorities

SwissSign is a recognised provider of certification services according to the Swiss Signature Act ZertES and corresponds with the international standard ETSI TS 102.023. SwissSign can therefore provide its customers with qualified digital time stamps. SwissSign time stamps and the time stamping authorities also correspond with the standard RFC 3161 Time-Stamp Protocol.


What are digital time stamps used for?
Digital time stamps are mainly used for archiving documents at a precise time or stamping business documents such as contracts. This means that it can be proven easily and transparently at any time that the corresponding data set has not been changed since the exact time of the stamp.


The SwissSign time stamps can be used as part of workflow and archiving solutions. SwissSign time stamps can be integrated everywhere where confirmed times need to be allocated to specific events as part of solutions for the implementation of compliance rules such as SOX, Basel II or sector-specific quality frameworks like GMP by independent, trusted third parties.


With a SwissSign time stamp the integrity of a data set – whether in the form of a document in any, machine-readable format or as an identifiable transaction – is authenticated by SwissSign from the time of the stamp process via a corresponding hash value. This means that it can be proven easily and transparently at any time that the corresponding data set has not been changed since the exact time of the stamp. This is guaranteed by SwissSign.


Implementation and technology
SwissSign time stamps can – depending on the requirement of the specific application – be requested and generated in different ways:


  • Do you have to provide many transactions or documents frequently or permanently with time stamps in a short space of time as part of mass processes? Here SwissSign offers a time stamping authority which, as well as an annual basic charge, is invoiced based on transactions. This means you pay for the actually required time stamps. Here the document is not sent to us but rather only a fingerprint (so-called «hash») of this document. This means the confidential data remains with you but the legal requirements of a time stamp are still fulfilled. Are you interested in the time stamping authority for mass processes? If so, please contact us: Contact.


  • For the occasional acquisition of up to 10 time stamps per day, where high output, performance and scalability of the service play a secondary role, you can also obtain the SwissSign time stamping authority light via the internet directly from the SwissSign server. The minimum requirement for customers here is just a browser. If you are already a SwissSign customer, you can use our time stamping authority light free of charge.


Time stamping authority light: How it works
Time stamps are used in advance in connection with PDF documents. To use the SwissSign time stamping authority you need a digital certificate. With this you can then sign a PDF document and provide it with the SwissSign time stamp. But also without a certificate you can stamp your PDF with a time stamp only. You just use our TSA service according to RFC3616: tsa.swisssign.net. You can find an example of a time stamped document here: TimestampExample.pdf

You will find instructions on how to sign a PDF document and instructions on the configuration of Adobe Acrobat for the SwissSign time stamping authority at www.swisspost.ch/suisseid.
SwissSign TimeStamping


After the signature you can check the time stamp in the document by clicking on the signature and selecting «Signature Properties» and «Date/Time» (see picture on the left).