What is Digital Signature Certificate?
A Digital Signature Certificate or DSC plays the role of the normal handwritten signature, but it serves as a certificate like a driving licenses or passport.
The DSCs serve as a proof of identity for a person or an organization for specific purpose online.
In simple language, Digital Signature Certificates serve as an electronic proof of your identity in the cases of accessing online information or online transactions.
How does it work?
- Basically, Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) associates the identity of an individual/device with public and private keys.
- It contains information about a user’s identity (such as their name, pin code, country, email address, the date the certificate was issued, name of the CA).
- These keys won’t work in the absence of the user.
- They are used by browsers and servers to encrypt/ decrypt information regarding the identity of the certificate user.
- The private key is stored on the hard disk of the user’s computer or on an external device such as a USB token.
- The user retains control of the private key and it can only be used with the issued password.
- The public key is distributed with the encrypted information. So, if one of these keys in not available or do not match, the authentication process fails. This means that the encrypted data cannot be decrypted and therefore, is inaccessible to unauthorized parties.
A DSC is issued by the licensed Certifying Authority (CA). It means a person who is granted a licence to issue a Digital Signature Certificate under Section 24 of the Indian IT, Act 2000. You can check out the list of licensed CAs here
Now, there are three types of Digital Signature Certificate, which are called Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 Certificate.
|Class 1||To be issued to individuals/ Private Subscribers.|
|Class 2||To be issued for Income Tax filing, ROC and MCA filing|
|Class 3||To be issued for the purpose of e-Tendering, e-Procurement, Trademark / Patent filing, etc.|
Uses of Digital Signature Certificate
The DSCs are used for…
- Sending/Receiving digitally signed and encrypted emails/documents
- Carrying out secure transactions on Internet
- e-Tendering or e-Procurement
- e-Filing Income Tax Returns
- Signing Documents like MS Word, MS Excel and PDFs
How to Acquire a Digital Signature Certificate?
You can acquire a DSC at following websites:
Documents to be submitted along with application of the DSC may vary as per the applicant and the class of digital signature to be obtained.
In case of Individuals, following documents are to be attached along with an application form:
- Self attested copy of PAN
- Passport size photographs of the applicant
- Self attested copy of any one of the latest copy of:
- Water Bill
- Electricity Bill
- Telephone Bill
- Credit Card
- Voter ID
- Driver’s License
In case of Organizations, some of the documents required to be submitted along with the application are:
- PAN of the Organization
- Incorporation certificate / deed / agreement etc.
- Details of authorized signatory of the organization and his//her ID Proof
- Latest Bank statement of the Organization etc.
The above list is inclusive and not exclusive. The DSC provider may ask for additional documents as well.
A step-by-step guide to Get your Digital Signature Certificate
- Download the Application Form from any of the sources mentioned above
- Fill up the form. Note that the fields marked with ‘*’ are mandatory to fill up.
- Get Self-attested copies of the documents mentioned above.
- Re-confirm your email ID.
- Take Signature on the Application form and Subscriber’s Agreement.
- If the DSC providers have online payment option you can pay the fees online or else you can send a demand draft as per the requirements.
Government has come up with DSC Management Utility to simplify this entire process. Click here to see how!
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I require different DSCs for different banks?
Not if the DSC is under the same class.
One can sign a copy on paper without the person’s knowledge. Can the same happen with Digital Signature?
It all depends on how secure the owner has kept the key. If a traitor gains access to the key, he can access the signature.
If I’m transferred to another post or department in my job, will my Digital Signature change as well? Why?
Yes, it will.
If the owner of DSC is transferred to another post, and the proceedings require for it, his/her existing certificate will be revoked and new one will be issued. Even if the same key is used, the digital signature generated is different each time.
What is the cost of acquiring a DSC?
The charges may vary as there are many entities issuing DSC and they have different charges.
How much time does it take to get the DSC issued?
The Certifying Authority may take three to seven days to issue your DSC.
What is the validity period of DSC?
The validity period of Digital Signature Certificate may vary from one to two years.
If I want to eFile on the MCA portal, what type of DSC do I need?
DSC of Class 2 and Class 3 is required to eFile on MCA portal.
Can I have two Digital Signatures; one for official use and the other for personal use?
Yes, you can.