HM Land Registry has announced that, from Monday 27 July, it will accept “witnessed electronic signatures” on legal documents in property transactions.

These will require a witness to sign the documents electronically at the same time as the signatory.

Simon Hayes, chief executive and chief land registrar, said the use of witnessed electronic signatures would remove the “last strict requirement to print and sign a paper document in a home buying or other property transaction” and would create a more secure and efficient conveyancing process.

The move comes shortly after HM Land Registry began accepting deeds that have been signed using the “Mercury signing approach”, which will remain as an alternative method.

This approach allows for a signature page to be signed in pen in the physical presence of a witness. The signature is then captured with a scanner or camera to produce a copy of the signed page. Each party sends a single email to their conveyancer to which is attached the final agreed copy of the document and the copy of the signed signature page.

The registry has also published additional guidance for conveyancers explaining how and when to use electronic signatures.