RelaNet Sign User ManualTable of Contents

Overview of Concepts

In this section we introduce some basic concepts that will help you understand what RelaNet Sign does, and how it is used. We believe that understanding these concepts is a necessary foundation for being able to use RelaNet Sign effectively in your organization.

Electronic Signatures

Everyone is familiar with the concept of a signature. It is how people have indicated their agreement, acceptance, and authorization of documents for centuries. Your signature on a paper document is legally binding because you are demonstrating your intent to agree with the document, and because your signature can be authenticated by comparing the signature on the document to known samples of your signature.

In recent years electronic documents have become more common. Since it is impossible to pick up a pen and physically sign an electronic document, the law has adjusted to allow electronic signatures. The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (or "ESIGN Act") and the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (or "UETA") make electronic signatures just as legally binding in the United States as a physical signature. Many other international jurisdictions have similar laws.

RelaNet Sign is a tool for requesting and managing electronic signatures from your clients and staff. Electronic signatures in RelaNet are comprised of several parts that together demonstrate both that the signer intended to sign the document, and that the signature is authentic.

Visible Signature

When a document is signed in RelaNet Sign, a visible representation of the signer's signature is applied to the document. That visible signature might be the signer's typed out name, it might be a digital photograph of the signer's physical signature that was uploaded to RelaNet Sign, or it might be a mark that the signer made with a mouse or with a fingertip on a smartphone. What the mark looks like is not as important as what it represents. By making his or her mark on the document, the signer is indicating his or her intent to agree with the document, just as the signer might by applying his or her physical signature to a paper document.

Cryptographic Signature

In this age of digitally manipulated photos, how can we be sure that a digital signature is authentic? How can we be sure that a signature wasn't added by someone else? These valid concerns are addressed by the cryptographic signature.

Whenever a document is signed in RelaNet Sign, a cryptographic signature is applied in addition to the visible signature. The cryptographic signature is a record attached to the document that records who signed the document, when it was signed, and other information about the signer that together identifies who applied the signature.

As the name suggests, the cryptographic signature is secured by public key encryption in such a way that only RelaNet could have created it. As an uninterested third party to the signed agreement, RelaNet is vouching for the authenticity of the signature that was applied.

Document Audit Log

To support the cryptographic signature, RelaNet collects information about the history of every document and automatically records that information into an ongoing audit log for each document. If ever there is any question about the authenticity of a signature, the record of a document being opened and signed by particular people at particular times from particular Internet addresses can be used as additional evidence to support the authenticity of the visible signature and cryptographic signatures that are stored in the documents.

Knowledge-Based Authentication

Although standard electronic signatures as described above are perfectly legal and binding, some documents require additional authentication to verify that the person signing a document is actually who they claim to be. Two such documents are IRS Forms 8878 and 8879. By regulation, an authentication method known as knowlege-based authentication (or "KBA") must be used when these documents are signed electronically. As a convenience, RelaNet Sign offers KBA as an option for documents that require it.

Knowledge-based authentication attempts to verify the identity of the signer by asking a set of questions which presumably only the signer would know the answers to. These question sets are drawn from the signer's credit history, and include questions that ask for details of where the signer lived in the past, what other people the signer is associated with, and other personal history questions.

Although standard electronic signatures are included as part of your RelaNet subscription, KBA signatures require "KBA credits" to be spent. Each signature request requires one KBA credit, so if you request signatures from two people on a single document, that will require two KBA credits. If you would like more information about how KBA credits are used, or if you would like to purchase KBA credits, please contact RelaNet support.

Organizational Structure

There are several different types and groupings of accounts that RelaNet Sign uses to control who can view and edit the information stored within it. In large part, these different groups correspond to the natural roles that exist within a business.

Company Owner

Accounts for company owners can only be created by RelaNet staff, and there can only be one company owner account per organization. Company owner accounts are meant to be used by the primary technical contact at an organization since they have full permission to create, delete, and edit other accounts within RelaNet Sign. Company owner accounts can create staff accounts and group those accounts into departments. Company owners also have additional settings available to them so that they can set preferences for their entire organization. Company owner accounts can share folders with staff and departments in their company, they can sign documents, and they can send signature requests to others.

Staff TEAM

Staff accounts can be created by company owners for other staff and employees in their company. Staff accounts can create customer accounts, but they cannot create other staff accounts. Company owners can control what actions a staff account can take in RelaNet Sign by setting permissions that are particular to that account. Staff accounts can share folders with the company owner and other staff in their company, they can sign documents, and they can send signature requests to others.

Departments TEAM

As a convenience, company owners can group different staff together into departments in order to facilitate sharing folders with the appropriate groups.


Customer accounts are meant to be used by people outside your organization, typically your clients. Customer accounts cannot create other accounts, they cannot create or share folders, they cannot upload new documents, and they cannot issue signature requests. They can, however, sign documents.

Example Workflow

RelaNet Sign is designed to facilitate the exchange of electronic signatures, but it is a flexible tool and there are several ways you can do that. We encourage you to experiment with your own processes, but the method described below is how we suggest new users request electronic signatures from clients.

  1. OPTIONAL: Create a customer account for the signer. This will allow the signer to log into RelaNet Sign to sign the document. Having the signer log in to sign a document provides more complete information in the file audit log and allow the signer to save his or her signature for repeated use. After creating the customer account, the new customer will automatically receive an email with his or her password. For more information about creating customer accounts, see Creating New Customers.

    You may instead choose to proceed without creating an account for the document signer. In this case, the signer will sign as a guest, and no password will be required. The advantage of having allowing the signer to sign as a guest is that it is more convenient for the document signer. The disadvantage is that the document signer's name will not appear in the document audit log. For more information about signing as a guest, see Signing Requests.

  2. Upload the document to be signed. Upload to RelaNet Sign the file that you want to have signed. For more information about uploading documents, see Uploading a File.
  3. Open the document. Open the document in preparation for sending a signature request. For more information about opening a document, see File Action Menu.
  4. Open the Signature Request modal screen. To open the Signature Request modal screen, use the menu that appears when you click the Actions button. For more information about this menu and the items in it, see Document Actions.
  5. Request the signature. Indicate where the signer should sign by adding a signature field, and request additional information by adding other input fields. For more information about the process of requesting signatures and the options that are available, see Requesting Signatures.
  6. Monitor progress. After requesting the signature, the signer will receive an email informing him or her that a signature has been requested. The signer can sign the document using the process described in Signing Documents. You can follow the progress of the signing request by monitoring the notifications that will appear on the Notifications screen, or by monitoring the document's audit log. For more information about monitoring notifications, see Notifications. For more information about the document audit log, see Document Details.