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  • Specialist Task Force 402:
    REM Interchange: e-mail Interchange between Registered E-Mail (REM) systems based on different transmission protocols

Who we are:

Team Leader: Juan Carlos Cruellas
Team Members: Jörg Apitzsch
Luca Boldrin
Andrea Caccia
Santino Foti
Paloma Llaneza
Gregory Sun


Electronic mail is one of the major tools for electronic business and administration. It has been recognised that additional security services are necessary for e-mail to be trusted. In some European Union Member States (Italy, Belgium, Germany, etc.) regulation(s) and application(s) are in place on e-mails (including Internet mail & web mail) providing origin authentication and proof of delivery. Such security services may be used to provide trusted delivery of e-mail equivalent to the existing physical registered postal service. Several approaches are possible in order to realize the goal of trusted “Registered E-Mail” services. This may be enhanced, for example, by other facilities such as the “Digital Postmark” (as specified by the Universal Postal Union) to provide further electronic evidence about the handling of messages. In order to ensure the interoperability of the trusted email services, it is necessary to specify technical formats, as well as procedures and practices for handling registered e-mail and the ways the electronic signatures are applied to it.

ETSI Specialist Task Force 318 produced in January 2010 ETSI Technical Specification 102 640 Registered Electronic Mail (REM) version v.2.1.1, which in its 5 parts specifies:

  • REM architecture (Part 1)
  • Data structures and formats for messages and Evidences (Part 2)
  • Information Security Policy Requirements for provision of REM services (Part 3).
  • REM Conformance requirements (Part 4).
  • Interoperability Profiles for SMTP-based REM (Part 5). 

What we do:

The STF 402 goals are:

  • To produce ETSI Technical Specifications addressing the seamless exchange of e-mails between SMTP-based REM solutions (as specified in ETSI TS 102 640) and REM solutions based on other protocols (primarily Web Services / SOAP). Two targets have already been identified: the Universal Postal Union Postal Registered Electronic Mail (UPU PRem), and PEPPOL’s BUSDOX network. 
  • To organize a workshop on Registered Electronic Mail for bringing together relevant implementers/owners/developers and public agencies to share experiences and provide comments on the ETSI TSs produced and the on-going work so that they may actually impact the standardization process. 
  • Based on the feedback received, update ETSI TS 102 640. 
  • To produce an ETSI Technical Report that will contain a test suite for carrying interoperability tests on REM, aiming at being the reference document for an upcoming interoperability test event on REM. The actual preparation, organization, conducting and support of such an interoperability event is out of the scope of the STF-402.

For more details, see our Terms of Reference

Why we do it:

Work performed by STF 318 ascertained that although an increasing number of Registered E-Mail (REM) and REM-like systems based on SMTP are already operational, under development or in the design phase throughout the EU and the EEA, the European Commission has supported and funded projects like PEPPOL – Pan-European Public eProcurement On-Line – (in particular its Work Package – WP8) that are developing systems aiming to allow document exchange mainly centred on Public Administrations, although also enterprises and citizens can join them, based on a different protocol: SOAP.

At the same time the Universal Postal Union (UPU) is also developing a SOAP-based mailing system, the Postal Registered Electronic Mail (PRem) already mentioned.

The number of European countries already involved, or at least interested, in SMTP-based REM like systems is quite impressive, to name a few: Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Germany, Spain.

The coexistence of mailing systems based on different protocols will run the real risk of non interoperability between them. Such an experience already exists in Italy where there are two parallel systems: PEC (Posta Elettronica Certificata) based on SMTP and SPC (Sistema Pubblico di Connettività) based on SOAP.

If these two systems keep developing independently, the users and in particular citizens and SMEs, will face the need to equip themselves with different applications or interfaces, each independently interfacing one mailing mechanism. Among the foreseeable consequences it is realistic to envisage the impossibility to send one single e-mail to recipients belonging to these two different “domains”.

How we do it:

The STF 402 will produce the ETSI Technical Specifications addressing the seamless exchange of e-mails between SMTP-based REM and REM solutions based on other protocols, working in close co-operation with UPU (for targeting the UPU PRem) and relevant European Projects, namely PEPPOL and SPOCS. The STF 402 aims at establishing a co-ordination group with them for ensuring a fluid communication among the different parties. During the life of the project STF 402 members and UPU/PEPPOL/SPOCS members will meet for discussing and reviewing draft versions of the ETSI TSs under production.

The STF 402 will identify relevant entities in the Registered Electronic Mail arena and will aim at bringing them together in a workshop on this topic, where they will share experiences and provide their feedback on the ETSI TS 102 640 and their input to the on-going work in progress.

The STF 402 will also circulate draft proposals for interoperability events to relevant entities in the REM arena.

Time plan:

Total duration: 18 months, from Januray 2010 to June 2011

How to contact us:

If you would like more information, please contact the STF Leader:


This information is based upon STF working assumptions.
The views expressed do not necessarily represent the position of ETSI in this context.

Last updated: 2013-04-13 17:33:45