Signature Validation Token

Version 1.0 - 2020-03-12 - Draft version

Registration number: 2020-60

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction

    1.1. Requirements Notation

    1.2. Definitions

  2. Signature validation token

    2.1. Function

    2.2. Signature Validation Token Syntax

    2.2.1. Data Types

    2.2.2. Signature Validation Token JWT Claims

    2.2.3. Claim Object Classes The SigValidation Object The Signature Claims Object The SigReference Claims Object The SignedData Claims Object The PolicyValidation Claims Object The TimeVerification Claims Object The CertReference Claims Object

    2.2.4. SVT JOSE Header

  3. Profiles

  4. Signature Validation with Signature Validation Token

  5. Examples

  6. Normative References

1. Introduction

Electronic signatures have a limited lifespan regarding when they can be validated and determined to be authentic. Many factors make it more difficult to validate electronic signatures over time. For example:

The challenge to validate an electronic signature is increasing over time up until the point when it is simply impossible to verify the signature with a sufficient level of assurance.

Current existing standards such as the ETSI AdES profiles for CMS, XML and PDF signatures can be used to prolong the lifetime of a signature by storing data that supports validation of the signature beyond the lifetime of the signing certificate. The problem with this approach is that the amount of information that must be stored along with the signature is constantly growing over time. The increasing amount of information and signed objects that must be validated in order to verify the original signature is growing in complexity to the point where it may become infeasible to validate the original signature.

The Signature Validation Token (SVT) defined in this specification takes a fundamentally different approach to the problem by providing an evidence that asserts the validity of a signature. The SVT is issued by a trusted authority, and asserts that a particular signature was successfully validated according to defined procedures at a certain time. The basic idea and intent behind the SVT is that once the SVT is issued by a trusted authority, any future validation of that signature is satisfied by validating the SVT without any need to also validate the original signature.

This approach drastically reduces the complexity of signature validation of older signatures for the simple reason that validating the SVT just requires validation of the signature over the SVT. The SVT can be signed with keys and algorithms that makes it valid for a considerable time in the future and it can be re-issued with fresh keys and signatures to extend the lifetime of the original signature validity, if necessary.

1.1. Requirements Notation

The key words MUST, MUST NOT, REQUIRED, SHALL, SHALL NOT, SHOULD, SHOULD NOT, RECOMMENDED, MAY, and OPTIONAL in this document are to be interpreted as described in BCP 14 [RFC2119] [RFC8174] when, and only when, they appear in all capitals, as shown here.

These keywords are capitalized when used to unambiguously specify requirements over protocol features and behavior that affect the interoperability and security of implementations. When these words are not capitalized, they are meant in their natural-language sense.

1.2. Definitions

This document use the following defined terms:

Term Meaning
Signed Data The data covered by a particular signature. This is typically equivalent to the signed document and represents the data that the signer intended to sign. In some cases, such as in some XML signatures, the signed data can be the collection of several data fragments each referenced by the signature. In the case of PDF, this is the data covered by the "ByteRange" parameter in the signature dictionary.
Signed Bytes These are the actual bytes of data that was hashed and signed by the signature algorithm. In most cases this is not the actual Signed Data, but a collection of signature metadata that includes references (hash) of the Signed Data as well as information about algorithms and other data bound to a signature. In XML this is the canonicalized SignedInfo element and in CMS/PDF signatures this is the DER encoded SignedAttributes structure.

When these terms are used in their defined meaning, they appear with a capitalized first letter as shown in the table.

2. Signature Validation Token

2.1. Function

The function of the Signature Validation Token (SVT) is to capture evidence of signature validity at one instance of secure signature validation process and to use that evidence to eliminate the need to perform any repeated cryptographic validation of the original signature value, as well as reliance on any hash values bound to that signature. The SVT achieves this by binding the following information to a specific electronic signature:

Using an SVT is equivalent to validating a signed document in a system once and then using that document multiple times without revalidating the signature for each usage. Such procedures are common in systems where the document is residing in a safe and trusted environment where it is protected against modification. The SVT allows the time and environment where the document can be stored and used to expand beyond a locally controlled environment and a short instance of time.

Using the SVT, the signed document can be validated once using a reliable trusted service and after that the SVT can be used to extend reliance of that secure validation process. The SVT is therefore not only a valuable tool to extend the lifetime of a signed document, but also useful since a single secure validation service can be deployed, instead of having to maintain close integrations between signature validations and document usage.

2.2. Signature Validation Token Syntax

The SVT is carried in a JSON Web Token (JWT) in accordance with [RFC7519].

2.2.1. Data Types

The contents of claims in an SVT are specified using the claims data types in the following table:

Claims Data Type JSON Data Type Description
String string An arbitrary case sensitive string value.
Base64Binary string String representation of Base64 encoded byte array of binary data.
StringOrURI string As defined in [RFC7519].
A JSON string value, with the additional requirement that while arbitrary string values MAY be used, any value containing a ":" character MUST be a URI.
URI string A valid URI.
Integer number A 32-bit signed integer value (from -231 to 231 - 1).
Long number A 64-bit signed integer value (from -263 to 263 - 1).
NumericDate number As defined in [RFC7519].
A JSON numeric value representing the number of seconds from 1970-01-01T00:00:00Z UTC until the specified UTC date/time, ignoring leap seconds.
Boolean boolean The explicit value true or false.
Object<Class> object A JSON object holding a claims object of a class defined in this specification (see section 2.2.2).
Map<Type> object A JSON object with name-value pairs where the value is an object of the specified Type in the notation.
Example: Map<String> according to this notation is a JSON object with name value pairs where all values are of type String.
Array array An array of values of a specific data type as defined in this table. An array is expressed in this specification by square brackets. For example: [String] indicates an array of String values and [Object<DocHash>] indicates an array of DocHash objects.
Null null Representing an absent value. A claim with a null value is equivalent with an absent claim in this specification.

2.2.2. Signature Validation Token JWT Claims

The signature validation token JWT SHALL contain claims according to the following table.

Name Data Type Value Presence
jti String A "JWT ID" registered claim according to [RFC7519]. It is RECOMMENDED that the identifier holds a hexadecimal string representation of a 128-bit unsigned integer. MANDATORY
iss StringOrURI An "Issuer" registered claim according to [RFC7519]. An arbitrary unique identifier of the SVT issuer. This value SHOULD have the value of an URI identifier based on a domain owned by the issuer. MANDATORY
iat NumericDate An "Issued At" registered claim according to [RFC7519] expressing the time when this SVT was issued. MANDATORY
aud [StringOrURI] or StringOrURI An "Audience" registered claim according to [RFC7519]. The audience claim is an array of one or more identifiers, identifying intended recipients of the SVT. Each identifier MAY identify a single entity, a group of entities or a common policy adopted by a group of entities. If only one value is provided it MAY be provided as a single StringOrURI value instead of as an array of values. OPTIONAL
exp NumericDate An "Expiration Time" registered claim according to [RFC7519] expressing the time when services and responsibilities related to this SVT is no longer provided by the SVT issuer. The precise meaning of the expiration time claim is defined by local policies. See implementation note below. OPTIONAL
sig_val_claims Object<SigValidation> Signature validation claims for this SVT extending the standard registered JTW claims above. MANDATORY

Note: An SVT asserts that a certain validation process was undertaken at a certain instance of time. This fact never changes and never expires. However, some aspects of the SVT such as liability for false claims or service provision related to a specific SVT may expire after a certain period of time, such as a service where an old SVT can be upgraded to a new SVT signed with fresh keys and algorithms.

2.2.3. Claim Object Classes The SigValidation Object

The SigValidation claims object holds all custom claims of the SVT JWT and contains the following parameters:

Name Data Type Value Presence
ver String Version. This version is indicated by the value "1.0". MANDATORY
profile StringOrURI Name of a profile applied to this specification that defines conventions of content of specific claims and extension points. OPTIONAL
hash_algo URI The URI identifier of the hash algorithm used to provide hash values within the SVT. The URI identifier SHALL be one defined in [RFC6931] or in the IANA registry defined by this RFC. MANDATORY
sig [Object<Signature>] Information about validated signatures as an array of Signature objects. If the SVT contains signature validation evidence for more than one signature, then each signature is represented by a separate Signature object. At least one Signature object MUST be present. MANDATORY
ext Map<String> Extension point for additional claims related to the SVT. Extension claims are added at the discretion of the SVT issuer but MUST follow any conventions defined in a profile of this specification (see section 3). OPTIONAL The Signature Claims Object

The Signature object contains claims related to signature validation evidence for one signature and contains the following parameters:

Name Data Type Value Presence
sig_ref Object<SigReference> Reference information identifying the target signature. MANDATORY
sig_data [Object<SignedData>] Array of references to Signed Data signed by the target signature. MANDATORY
signer_cert_ref Object<CertReference> Reference to signer certificate and optionally reference to a supporting certificate chain that was used to validate the target signature. MANDATORY
sig_val [Object<PolicyValidation>] Array of results of signature validation according to defined validation procedures. MANDATORY
time_val [Object<TimeValidation>] Array of results of time verification validating proof that the target signature has existed at specific instances of time in the past. OPTIONAL
ext MAP<String> Extension point for additional claims related to the target signature. Extension claims are added at the discretion of the SVT Issuer but MUST follow any conventions defined in a profile of this specification (see section 3). OPTIONAL The SigReference Claims Object

The SigReference claims object provides information used to match the Signature claims object to a specific target signature and to verify the integrity of the target signature value and Signed Bytes.

Name Data Type Value Presence
id String Optional identifier assigned to the target signature. OPTIONAL
sig_hash Base64Binary Hash value of the target signature value. MANDATORY
sb_hash Base64Binary Hash value of the Signed Bytes of the target signature. MANDATORY The SignedData Claims Object

The SignedData claims object provides information used to verify the target signature references to Signed Data as well as to verify the integrity of all data signed by the target signature.

Name Data Type Value Presence
ref String Reference identifier identifying the data or data fragment covered by the target signature. MANDATORY
hash Base64Binary Hash of the data covered by the target signature. MANDATORY The PolicyValidation Claims Object

The PolicyValidation claims object provide information about the result of a validation process according to a spefific policy.

Name Data Type Value Presence
pol StringOrURI Identifier of the policy governing the validation process. MANDATORY
res String Result of the validation process. The value MUST be one of "PASSED", "FAILED" or "INDETERMINATE" as defined by [ETSI EN 319 102-1]. MANDATORY
msg String An optional message describing the result. OPTIONAL
ext Map<String> Extension for additional information about the validation result. OPTIONAL The TimeVerification Claims Object

The TimeVerification claims object provide information about the result of validating time evidence asserting that the target signature existed at a particular time in the past.

Name Data Type Value Presence
time NumericDate The verified time. MANDATORY
type StringOrURI Identifier of the type of evidence of time. MANDATORY
iss StringOrURI Identifier of the entity that issued the evidence of time. MANDATORY
id String Unique identifier assigned to the evidence of time. OPTIONAL
val [Object<PolicyValidation>] Array of results of validation of the time evidence according to defined validation procedures. OPTIONAL
ext Map<String> Extension for additional information about the signature validation result. OPTIONAL The CertReference Claims Object

The CertReference claims object allows reference to a single X.509 certificate or a chain of X.509 certificates, either by providing the actual certificate data or by providing a hash reference for certificates that can be located in the target signature.

Name Data Type Value Presence
type StringOrURI An identifier of the type of reference provided in the ref claim. The type identifier MUST be either one of the identifiers defined below, an identifier specified by the selected profile, or a URI identifier. MANDATORY
ref [String] An array of string parameters according to conventions defined by the type identifier. MANDATORY

The following type identifiers are defined:

Identifer Ref Data Content
chain Array of Base64 encoded X.509 certificates [RFC5280]. The certificates MUST be stored in the order starting with the end entity certificate. Any following certificate must be able to validate the signature on the previous certificate in the array.
chain_hash An array of one or two Base64 encoded hash values. The first hash value MUST be present and holds the hash over the signer's end entity X.509 certificate [RFC5280]. The second hash is the Base64 encoded hash over the complete certificate chain included in the target signature (including the signer's certificate). The chain hash is calculated over the concatenated bytes of the chain certificates exactly in the order they appear in the target signature. If the second hash value MAY be absent if the chain only contains the signer's certificate. The secound hash value MUST be present if the chain contains any certificates other than the signer's certificate.

Note: All certificates referenced using the identifiers above are X.509 certificates. Profiles of this specification MAY define alternative types of public key containers. It should be noted however that a major function of these referenced certificates is not just to reference the public key, but also to provide the identity of the signer. It is therefore important for the full function of an SVT that the referenced public key container also provides the means to identify of the signer.

2.2.4. SVT JOSE Header

The SVT JWT MUST contain the following JOSE header parameters in accordance with section 5 of [RFC7519].

JOSE Header Value
typ This parameter MUST have the string value "JWT" (upper case).
alg Specifying the algorithm used to sign the SVT JWT using a value specified in [RFC7518]. The specified signature hash algorithm MUST be identical to the hash algorithm specified in the SigValAssertion claims object hash_algo claim.

The SVT header MUST contain a public key or a reference to a public key used to verify the signature on the SVT in accordance with [RFC7515]. Each profile (See section 3.) MUST define the requirements for how the key or key reference is included in the header.

3. Profiles

Each signed document and signature type will have to define the precise content and use of several claims in the SVT.

Each profile MUST as a minimum define:

4. Signature Validation with Signature Validation Token

Signature validation based on an SVT SHALL follow the following basic steps:

  1. Locate all available tokens available for the signed document that is relevant for the target signature.

  2. Select the most recent SVT that can be successfully validated and meets the requirement of the relying party.

  3. Verify the integrity of the signature and the Signed Bytes of the target signature using the sig_ref claim.

  4. Verify that the Signed Data reference in the original signature matches the reference values in the sig_data_ref claim.

  5. Verify the integrity of referenced Signed Data using provided hash values in the sig_data_ref claim.

  6. Obtain the verified certificates supporting the asserted signature validation through the signer_cert_ref claim.

  7. Verify that signature validation policy results satisfy the requirements of the relying party.

  8. Verify that verified time results satisfy the context within which the signed document is used.

After validating these steps, signature validity is established as well as the trusted signer certificate binding the identity of the signer to the signature.

5. Examples

The following example illustrates a basic SVT according to this specification issued for a signed PDF document.

Signature validation token JWT:


Decoded JWT Header:

  "typ" : "JWT",
  "alg" : "RS512"

Decoded JWT Claims:

  "aud" : "",
  "iss" : "",
  "iat" : 1582730645,
  "jti" : "e22c5be6dd6cc6db834bccd066f5e2e3",
  "sig_val_claims" : {
    "sig" : [ {
      "ext" : null,
      "sig_val" : [ {
        "msg" : "Invalid signature",
        "ext" : null,
        "res" : "FAILED",
        "pol" : ""
      } ],
      "sig_ref" : {
        "sig_hash" : "BhuE9BCYdqLgyowl2PbmnK9dJAmiVtT1u9VgiF99h2hVPzE4XLWvbCPe4aCJ3IzFfoL9k3
        "id" : null,
        "sb_hash" : "bueq5HTO1btpCrXRX7TzEKUrNJQhGG8qBh4wxESqRL3Bzn4clvK37jYu0KjMMkgJQEMfA1b
      "signer_cert_ref" : {
        "ref" : [ "NSuFM/vJ+beBlQtQTzmcYh5x7L8WC9E1KPHRA1ioNOlKVGbla9URzYcsisAx2bcsqOhkvVTc3
                   mK9E6ag07hfaw==" ],
        "type" : "chain_hash"
      "sig_data_ref" : [ {
        "ref" : "0 122935 127937 27430",
        "hash" : "kuUb86FsMNmJl3v4bQK09FkQgvo9Qx01nNRyQKUZihGEumdVqtuBKNPqZI1TzCQew6n8oFMjNh
      } ],
      "time_val" : [ ]
    } ],
    "ext" : {
      "name2" : "val2",
      "name1" : "val1"
    "ver" : "1.0",
    "profile" : "PDF",
    "hash_algo" : ""

Note: Line breaks in the decoded example are inserted for readablilty. These are not allowed in valid JSON data.

6. Normative References


Bradner, S., Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels, March 1997.


D. Cooper, S. Santesson, S. Farrell, S. Boeyen, R. Housley, W. Polk, Internet X.509 Public Key Infrastructure Certificate and Certificate Revocation List (CRL) Profile, May 2008.


Eastlake 3rd, D., Additional XML Security Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs), April 2013.


Jones, M., Bradley, J., Sakimura, N., JSON Web Signature (JWS), May 2015.


Jones, M., JSON Web Algorithms (JWA), May 2015.


Jones, M., Bradley, J., Sakimura, N., JSON Web Token (JWT), May 2015.


Leiba, B., Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC 2119 Key Words, May 2017.

[ETSI EN 319 102-1]

ETSI - Electronic Signatures and Infrastructures (ESI); Procedures for Creation and Validation of AdES Digital Signatures; Part 1: Creation and Validation.