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Digital Signature Certificate

Digital Signature Certificate is like electronic fingerprints affixed on documents submitted in electronic form by an authorized person. It is a mathematical formula for verification of the authenticity of digital documents.

The signature is usually authorized as the verification is conducted by trusted authorities. It is affixed on all the documents filed by the Ministry of corporate affairs (MCA). The Controller of certifying authority (CCA) has appointed Certifying authority for issuing DSC.

The Information Technology Act, of 2000 provides certain rules and regulations for the authentication of any electronic record by a subscriber utilizing an electronic method.

Process to Apply for a Digital Signature Certificate

The following steps are given for applying for a DSC issued by Certifying Authority:

1. The first step of the process is to visit the Certifying authority (CA) licensed to issue DSC and select the entity type:

Once you access the page, you will be guided to the Digital certification services section. Under the Digital certification services section, you can click on the type of entity, you can obtain the DSC which is an individual or organization, etc.

In case of applying for Individual DSC, click on the ‘Individual’ option. A page will open containing the DSC registration form and will be displayed on the screen. The registration form is a Digital Signature Certificate online which can be downloaded on your computer.

2. Fill In The Necessary Details:

After downloading the registration form, fill in all the necessary details as given in the form below:

  • Class of the DSC
  • Validity
  • Types of DSC: the first type is the only sign, second includes sign and encrypt
  • Applicant name & contact details
  • Residential address
  • GSTIN number & Identity proof documents
  • Declaration
  • Document as proof of identity
  • Document as proof of address
  • Attestation officer
  • Payment details

Fill in the complete details in the form, you can affix your photographs and put your sign in the declaration. Check the form thoroughly. You can take a printout of the Digital Signature Certificate DSC form and preserve it with yourself.

3. Proof of Identity and address:

The supporting documents provided as proof of identity and address must be attested by an attesting officer. The digital certificate is signed and sealed by the attesting officer and is visibly clear on the supporting proof documents.

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4. Payment for DSC:

A cheque shall be issued for the payment of the form of DSC in the name of the local authority and you shall be submitting your form for the process of verification. You can find the details of the Local registration authority according to your residence by searching for a Certifying Authority that is licensed to issue Digital certificates online.

On completion of the mentioned steps by filling in the DSC application form and providing the required documents and payment. You have completed the application process for your DSC.

What Is Digital Signature & How It Works?

The mathematical algorithm which is unique to DSC makes it the safest portal for signing documents online. The process which helps in how to do digital signatures work is discussed in the following points:

  • Hash Function:

When an individual signs a digital document a hash value is created. This value is a fixed-length series of letters that is subject to change with any modification made to the content of the document.

  • Public Key Cryptography:

DSC uses a cryptographic algorithm to generate two asymmetric keys, the public key and the private key. The keys can ensure the safe transfer of a document for both the sender and the recipient. One key of the Digital Signature Certificate is used to encrypt the data and the other is used to decrypt it. A private key is always unique to the owner of a digital certificate. While the public key can be shared with the public to open and view the message.

  • Public Key Infrastructure (PKI):

The PKI ensures that all the policies and standards of public key cryptography are maintained during the process of sending and receiving a digital document.

  • Certifying Authority:

In many cases, a third party, acting as the certifying authority, comes into action. They validate the identity of the signer and the recipient. The Digital Signature Certificate is issued for the validation process.

  • DSC:

It is a digital document that verifies the identity of individuals involved in a digital certificate that is signed and authorized by a certifying authority. It is a mathematical method used to validate the authenticity of a message, and software or digital document. The content of the Digital signature is as follows:

  1. Name of the certificate holder
  2. Serial number which is used to uniquely identify a certificate, the individual or the company identified by the certificate
  3. Date of expiry
  4. Copy of the certificate holder’s public key which is used for decrypting messages and signatures
  5. DSC of the issuing authority of the certificate.

Classes of Digital Signature Certificate

The classes of DSC are a type of applicant and the purpose for which the DSC is obtained defines the kind of DSC one must apply for depending on the need. There are three class DSCs issued by the certifying authorities.

  • Class 1 certificates:

These are issued to the individual/private subscribers and are used to confirm that the user’s name and email contact details from the clearly defined subject lie within the databases of the certifying authority.

  • Class 2 certificates:

Class II certificates are issued for the directors or signatory authorities of the organizations for e-filing of forms on the MCA portal with the Registrar of Companies (ROC) or any other official website. Class 2 buy Digital Signature Certificate is compulsory for individuals who have to sign physical documents for filing returns with the ROC. However, from 1st January 2021, the controller of Certifying authority was notified to not continue the Class 2 certificates and in place, Class 3 certificates are issued.

  • Class 3 certificate:

The classes of certificates mainly used for online participation in e-auctions taken at any place in India. The sellers who wish to participate in the online tenders to authenticate their identity shall have a Class 3 DSC. It is also used for tendering, filing of patents and trademarks, MCA filing, Income tax filing, LLP registration and GST filing.

Digital Signature vs. Electronic Signature

The points of difference between the Digital Signature Certificate and Electronic signatures are mentioned below:

  • The signature certificate is used for digitally securing a document. Whereas an electronic signature is utilized for verifying a document.
  • In the case of a signed certificate in the form of digital, the verification is performed by authorities of trusted service providers. Whereas, in the case of electronic signature, the verification is not performed by any trusted authorities.
  • The former is more secure on the other hand, an electronic signature is less secure.
  • The signature certificate in the form of digital is guaranteed to be authorized, on the other hand, an electronic signature is generally not authorized.
  • It can be validated whereas an electronic signature cannot be validated.
  • The involvement of security features is good in the Digital Signature Certificate whereas, the involvement of security features is minimal in the electronic signature.
  • The former signatures are commonly based on Adobe and Microsoft whereas, the latter is verbal, electronic ticks, or scanned signatures.
  • The former includes encryption standards whereas electronic signature does not integrate any standards and coding.

Digital Signature How to Use for Signing a Document

The use of DSC has become widely applicable to various government agencies and organizations. To make use of the DSC, you must first obtain your DSC by applying with any of the registered certifying authorities. On receiving your DSC and the USB token attachment sign any PDF document online. The USB token containing the Digital Signature Certificate is the most secure way to digitally sign a document. It provides security to the sender and receiver. The following steps are given to illustrate signatures how to sign a PDF document digitally:

Step 1: Install Emsigner on your device –

To download Emsigner on your computer device, one can visit the government's official website.

Step 2: Install Java on your computer –

You can download Java on your computer by visiting the downloads section of the Java website. After the download and installation of the file on your computer system. Then first go to my computer and right-click on the ‘This PC’ command. From the drop-down menu select properties. For Digital Signature Certificate, click on Advanced system settings and environment variables.

Step 3: Sender Email configuration –

Sign in to your Gmail account and click on My Account (Near the logout button). Here, go to sign-in and security. Next, the change allows the less secure app to be on.

Step 4: Sign any document –

First, you can select the document to sign. It is important to note that only PDF files in the selected folder can be signed. One can select the folder where you wish to save the signed documents. The user can also create a new folder as follows:

  • Select your DSC or signed image
  • Select the manner of signing i.e., DSC or image-based
  • Select a signing template
  • Click on ‘Start signing now’
  • Enter the password of the Digital certificate used to sign the documents
  • Your signing process will start here.
  • The documents will be signed and saved in the folder created by you.

Benefits of Digital Signature Certificate

Security is the main benefit of a certificate of signature used digitally. Security capabilities embedded in a signature ensure a document is not altered and signatures are legitimate. The following benefits of DSC are:

  • Timestamping:

It is useful for stock trades, legal proceedings and other such matters by providing the data and time of a signature.

  • Global acceptance:

The public key infrastructure ensures vendor-generated keys are made and stored securely. It is an international standard that is growing in several countries.

  • Time-saving:

DSC simplifies the time-consuming processes of physical document signing, storage and exchange and quickly accesses and signs documents.

  • Cost saving:

The Digital Signature Certificate helps companies with paperless documents and saves money spent on physical resources and on time, employees and office space.

  • Traceability:

DSC creates an audit trail that makes internal record-keeping easier for businesses. There are fewer opportunities for a sign or record keeper to make a mistake.

  • Security:

DSC is a more secure option. You don’t need to give proof of identity like in the case of notarization.

  • Efficient:

Sending documents online that users can digitally sign also makes it efficient.

  • Authentication:

It is also helpful in authenticating the personal information of the holder when conducting business online.

  • Data integrity:

The documents signed digitally cannot be modified or edited after signing which makes the data safe and secure.

Digital Signature Certificate Process

Checking Name Availability

Documents Required

  • Name and address of the applicant
  • Identity and address proof
  • Declaration
  • Mobile Number & E-mail ID
  • Attestation officer

Filing of Documents

Signing of Documents

  • The DSC is used for signing various documents online in PDF documents.
  • It is provided in a USB token secured with a password.
Filing of Documents

Content of DSC

  • Name of the holder
  • Serial Number
  • Expiry date
  • Certificate’s holder public key
  • DSC of issuing authority of the certificate

Filing of Documents

Submit Documents and Obtain Certification

  • The registration form is submitted to certifying authority with all the documents.
  • A Digital Signature Certificate is issued to the applicant after payment of the prescribed fees.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Digital certificate valid in India?
Yes, as per Information Technology Act, 2000 in India, DSC is legally valid. It is issued by licensed certifying authorities under the Ministry of Information Technology. DSC serves as proof of identity of an individual or organization for a certain purpose online on the computer.
What is an example of DSC?
For example, a parent signs a document authorizing tuition payment to their child’s school. The parent created a DSC, which has a private key linked directly to their identity.
Is there a validity of the Digital Signature Certificate?
The Controller may grant a 1-year or 2-year certificate validity to the issuing certifying authority, depending on the DSC class.
Are e-signatures legal?
If your DSC matches both the public and private keys, then it is legally binding. When the document is modified after affixing DSC then the signature is not valid.
Can a person hold multiple Digital Signature Certificates?
Yes, an individual can hold a separate digital signature online for personal and professional purposes. An individual can apply for a Class 3 certificate as it is the highest level, secure and used for all documents.
How do I verify the authenticity of my digital signature?
On the Tools menu, click on internet options and then on the content tab. When you digitally sign the document then another person cannot verify the authenticity of your DSC.
Where can I use the Digital Signature Certificate?
A DSC 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 various regulatory company fillings.
Where can I purchase a Digital certificate?
The valid Digital certificate is issued only through the Controller of certifying authorities and licensed certifying authorities such as e-madhura, NIC, TCS, etc.

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