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How to Apply for a Digital Signature Certificate?

By Mayashree Acharya


Updated on: Nov 2nd, 2023


68 min read

A Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) is affixed on documents submitted in electronic form by the authorised person. It ensures the security and authenticity of the documents submitted electronically. DSC is affixed on all the documents filed on the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) portal. Online transactions such as Incorporation of a company or LLP, Income Tax e-filing, etc., are validated using DSC.

The Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA) has appointed Certifying Authorities (CA) for issuing DSC. CA's have the licence to issue Class 3 DSC.

Requirements for applying for a Digital Signature Certificate

  • Aadhaar card.
  • PAN card.
  • Passport-sized photo.
  • Address proof.
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Steps to apply for a Digital Signature Certificate

STEP 1: Go to the Certifying Authorities website

There are around 15 CA that are licensed to issue Digital Certificates in India. The list of the Certifying Authorities, along with their website link, is given here. Visit any of the CA website, select the DSC Class 3 registration/application on their homepage and proceed to fill the form. 

STEP 2: Fill the necessary details

You need to fill in the below necessary details on the DSC application form:

  • Class of the DSC.
  • Validity.
  • Type: Only Sign or Sign & Encrypt.
  • Applicant Name and Contact Details.
  • Residential Address.
  • GST Number & Identity Details of Proof Documents.
  • Declaration.
  • Document as proof of identity.
  • Document as proof of address.
  • Attestation Officer.
  • Payment Details.

On filling up all the necessary details, you must upload your recent photograph and e-sign the declaration. Check thoroughly for completion of the form. Take a print of the completed form and preserve it.

STEP 3: Proof of identity and address

An attesting officer must attest the supporting documents (proof of identity and address) uploaded to the DSC application. Ensure the sign and seal of the attesting officer are visibly clear on the supporting documents. 

If the CAs are offering Aadhaar eKYC-based authentication, you can select this option. If you select this option, you do not have to upload any supporting documents.

You can also directly approach the CAs with original supporting documents and self-attested copies of the original documents. In such a case, supporting documents need not be attested by an attesting officer. 

You can also upload a letter/certificate issued by a bank and certified by the bank manager containing your name, PAN and address as supporting documents. In this case, no other attestation is required.

Certain CAs may also require you to upload a recorded e-verification video showing your original supporting documents for completing eKYC. 

STEP 4: Payment for DSC

Once the DSC application form is filled out and the documents are uploaded, you must make the payment for the issuance of the DSC. Payment can be made through online modes, such as net banking, credit card, debit card or UPI payment.

STEP 5: Issuance of DSC

After completing the above-mentioned steps, i.e. filling in the DSC application, providing the necessary documents and payment, submit the DSC application. The CAs will verify your application and documents and issue the DSC electronically. They will send an encrypted pen drive containing your DSC by post.

Rectifying Mistakes in Digital Signature Certificate

To change the details or rectify mistakes in the Digital Signature Certificate (DSC), an organisation or individual needs to follow the following procedure:

  • Visit the CA website.
  • Go to ‘Change DSC details’ option.
  • Fill the requisite details of the DSC.
  • Select the renewed/changed DSC.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who needs to apply for a Digital Signature Certificate?

With the e-commerce boom, government agencies have adopted digital signature, and it is also a statutory requirement for many e-forms to be digitally signed by the authorised signatory. So individuals and entities need to obtain the digital signature. A digital signature certificate establishes the identity of the holder. It is like a PAN card or a passport and enables the holder to prove his identity.

Where can I use the digital signature certificate?

A digital signature certificate is a valid legal instrument and can be used for digitally signing various documents. It can be used for filing income tax returns, e-tenders, and for various regulatory company filings.

What are the different classes of Digital Signature Certificate?

While applying for the certificate, the individual or company must purposely select the class. The different classes of digital signature certificates are as follows:

Class 1: This cannot be used by companies. It only verifies the name and email address of individuals.

Class 2: This is needed by companies and other entities. It can be used for filing tax returns. A Class 2 digital signature certificate verifies the identity of a person against a pre-verified, trusted database. However, from 01.01.2021, the Controller of Certifying Authorities has instructed to discontinue Class 2 Certificates and Class 3 Certificates will be issued in place of Class 2 Certificates.

Class 3: This is needed for individuals or entities who must sign online forms on government portals, such as company registration form, EPF registration form, etc., or who would like to participate in online auctions or tenders. It is the highest and most secure form of a digital signature certificate. 

How long does it take to receive the digital signature certificate in India?

Most CAs take between three to seven days to issue a digital certificate in India.

What is the validity of the Digital Signature Certificate?  

The Certifying Authorities are authorized to issue a certificate with validity of 1 or 2 years depending upon the class of DSC being procured. The holder must be well aware of the validity of the certificate to avoid any business loss.

Can I hold multiple digital signatures certificates?  

Yes. An individual can hold a separate digital signature for personal and professional purposes. As far as holding separate certificates for authorizing varied documents is concerned, an individual can apply for a Class 3 certificate and use it for all documents, as it is the highest level and most secure.

Can I renew the certificate?  

Yes, the digital signature certificate can be renewed within 7 days prior to the expiry of the existing certificate. However, the renewal must be in the existing name. If the holder applies in a different name, it will be considered as a new application. Changes allowable are changes to the postal address and contact details. In case the renewal is not executed within the time frame, the holder will have to apply for a new DSC.

Can I get a digital signature certificate for free?

No. You need to pay the fees charged by the CA to obtain a DSC.

How many DSCs can a person hold?

A person can have two DSCs for a single email ID. One for personal use and the other for professional purposes. However, a person can get a third DSC from another email ID. 

What is the difference between a digital signature and a digital certificate?

A digital signature is a secure digital key used to validate the integrity and authenticity of a message or digital document. A digital certificate is issued by a trusted third party (CA) to prove the identity of the certificate holder. 

The difference between a digital signature and a digital certificate is that the digital signature ensures that the information or data remains secure from the moment it is sent, while the certificate binds the digital signature to the object.

How much time do CAs take to issue a DSC?

Usually, CAs take three to seven days to issue a DSC.

Related Articles

Digital Signature Certificate

DSC Document Requirement

Steps to Follow while Applying for Renewal or Change in DSC

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Quick Summary

A Digital Signature Certificate (DSC), affixed on electronic documents by an authorized person, ensures security and authenticity. Requirements include Aadhaar, PAN, photo, and address proof. Steps involve form filling, identity proof attestation, payment, and receiving the DSC. Different classes (1, 2, 3) cater to varying needs. Renewal, limitations on free certificates, validity period, and issuance time frame are among the FAQs.

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