written by khatabook | November 15, 2022

A Guide on Digital Signature Certificates: Types and Classes

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Table of Content


Certification authorities (CAs) issue Digital Signature Certificates or DSCs to verify a person's identity by cryptographically encrypting the key. A digital signature certificate or DSC is used primarily for digitally signing documents online, authenticating the signature, and validating the signed copy. This article briefly overviews India's Digital Signature Certificates, classes of digital signatures, types of digital signature certificates, etc.

Did You Know? In India, electronic signatures have the same legal standing as physical ones. In truth, India has recognised electronic signatures as being legitimate since the Information Technology Act was passed in 2000.

Also read: The Best Agency Business Ideas in India You Need to Know

What Is a Digital Signature Certificate?

Digital Signature Certificates, or DSCs, are computerized impressions of someone's signature. An individual or entity can use it to verify their identity online, and a DSC confirms a person's identity through an e-certificate. 

Using DSC, one can quickly obtain all the information regarding an individual or entity. People worldwide use the (DSC) Digital Signature Certificate, and approved organizations must issue them in India.

Importance of Digital Signature Certificates

Individuals and entities must use a digital signature when filing their income tax returns to get their accounts audited. Additionally, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs now requires companies to use a digital signature only when filing reports, applications, and forms.

A digital signature can only verify a GST application if a company submits it. Filing applications, amendments, and related forms require a digital signature certificate.

Benefits of Digital Signature Certificates

Following are some benefits of digital signature certificates.

1. Authentication: Verifies the authenticity of the individual's personal information when conducting online transactions.

2. Helps to reduce time and cost: Using electronic signatures will save you both money and time because you will not have to sign hard copies and scan them before sending them via email. Businesses can be conducted or authorized without a physical presence by the holder of a Digital Signature certificate.

3. Data Integrity: You cannot alter or edit the Digitally signed documents once signed, making them confidential and secure. For cross-checking and verifying business transactions, government agencies often require these certificates.

4. Document Validity: Digitally signed documents give the recipient confidence in the signer's authenticity. Using such records, they can take action without fear of forgeries.

Types of Digital Signature Certificates

Below are the types of digital signature certificates.

1. Sign

Document signing is the only use for Sign certificates. This digital signing solution can sign PDF files for income tax returns, GST returns submission, MCAs, and other web-based services. You are validating the bona fide nature of data and authenticating the user's identity.

2. Encrypt

A DSC certificate encrypts documents, files, or confidential information. Using it, companies can encrypt and upload their tender documents. Furthermore, this certificate encrypts and sends personal data securely with this certificate. Commonly you can use it to encrypt documents related to e-commerce, e-tender filing, legal matters, and other confidential information. 

3. Sign and Encrypt

Sign and encrypting processes can be performed with this Sign and Encrypt digital signature certificate. You can use it to file government forms, documents, and applications. Authentication and confidentiality of data exchanged are crucial for users in this type of DSC Certificate.

Classes of Digital Signature Certificates

The type of applicant and the purpose of obtaining a Digital Signature Certificate indicates the kind of Digital Signature Certificate one should get. It is possible to obtain three types of Digital Signature certificates from certifying authorities.

Class 1 Certificates: Individual and private subscribers receive these certificates to verify that the certifying authority stores their name and email address on a clearly defined subject.

Class 2 Certificates: Designed to be used by director/signatory authorities of companies to file documents electronically with the Registrar of Companies (ROC). Individuals who have signed manual documents must have a Class 2 certificate when filing returns with the ROC. However, starting in January 2021, Class 2 Certificates will no longer be issued, and Class 3 Certificates will replace them. 

Class 3 Certificates: Online participation/bidding in e-auctions and online tenders in India require these certificates. Vendors participating in online tenders require Digital signature certificates of Class 3.

Issuing Authority of Digital Signature Certificate

As one of the certifying authorities for issuing digital signature certificates in India, eMudhra is an authorized one of the certifying authorities. There are other certifying authorities, including Code Solutions, National Informatics Centre, Institute for Development, and Safescrypt and Research in Banking Technology, to name a few.

Also read: Important Invoice Payment Terms and Conditions for Your Business

Documents Required for Digital Signature Certificate 

Below are the documents required for obtaining a digital signature certificate.

  • The applicant must submit a completed DSC application form. Obtaining a Digital Signature Certificate requires submitting an Application Form online and verifying personal information by the certifying authority.
  • A photo ID is required.
  • A copy of your address

Application Process of Digital Signature Certificate

The process of applying digital signature certificate involves the following steps.

First Step: Log on and Choose Your Entity Type

Find a website that issues Digital Certificates in India by visiting a Certifying Authority. Once you have accessed the page, that will take you to a section called Digital Certification Services. Under the 'Digital Certification Services' section, choose the type of entity requiring a DSC: individual, organization, etc.

If you are applying for a DSC as an individual, select 'individual'. It will appear under a new tab. On your PC, download the digital signature certificate Registration Form.

Second Step: Fill in the Necessary Details.

After downloading the form, fill out all the required information as instructed:

  • The class of the DSC
  • Select the type of digital signature certificate. You can choose between signing only or signing and encrypting
  • Name and contact details of the applicant
  • Address of residence
  • Identification details of proof documents, including GST number
  • Declaratory statement
  • Proof of identity in the format of a copy
  • Confirmation of place in the form of a copy
  • Officer of Attestation
  • Details of the payment

After filling out all the required details, you must attach your recent photograph and sign the declaration. Ensure the form is complete. Please make a copy of the completed form and keep it safe.

Third Step: Identity and Address Proof

An attesting officer must certify the supporting documentation as proof of address and identity. Ensure the attesting officer's seal and signature are visible on the supporting documents. 

Fourth Step: Digital Signature Certificate Payment

You must obtain a demand draft or check in the local registration Authority's name where you submit your application. When you search online for a Certifying Authority that issues Digital Certificates, you can find information about your city's Local Authority of Registration.

Fifth Step: Submit the Required Documents

An envelope should contain the following:

  • A completed Digital signature certificate Registration Form and an attested copy of the supporting documents for identification and address
  • A demand draft or a check to make a payment

If you want to complete the registration process, please send your enclosed envelope to your city's Local Authority of Registration. Your application for a Digital Signature Certificate will be successful once you have filled out the DSC form and provided the necessary documentation and payment.

Also read: All You Need to Know About Getting a BIS Certification in India

Conclusion

Filing GST returns with a (DSC) digital signature certificate is mandatory. In addition, both foreign and domestic companies, including LLPs, must use digital signature certificates to e-sign the registration form. A (DSC) digital signature certificate is optional for other entities, including individuals, when e-signing GST returns and registration forms. 

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FAQs

Q: Can I use the digital signature certificate anywhere?

Ans:

Various documents can be digitally signed using a digital signature certificate. You can use it to file income tax returns, e-tenders, and different regulatory company filings.

Q: Can I renew my digital signature certificate?

Ans:

You can renew your digital signature certificate within seven days before it expires. The renewal must, however, be in the current person's name. If the holder reapplies under a different name, then the authority considers that a new application. It is permissible to change the contact and postal address information. The holder will be required to apply for a new DSC if the renewal still needs to be completed within the deadline.

Q: Can I have more than one digital signature certificate?

Ans:

Yes. It is possible to have different digital signatures for personal and professional use. If an individual wants to hold separate certificates for authorizing various documents, they can apply and obtain a Class 3 certificate, which is the highest level of security.

Q: Is there a validity period for Digital Signature Certificates?

Ans:

Depending on the class of DSC obtained, the Certifying Authorities can issue a certificate with a validity of 1 or 2 years. Ensure that the holder knows when the certificate expires to avoid business losses.

Q: Who is eligible to obtain a Digital Signature Certificate?

Ans:

E-commerce has led to the adoption of digital signatures by government agencies, and the authorized signatory must digitally sign many e-forms to be valid. As a result, entities and individuals need to obtain digital signatures. Digital signature certificates establish the identity of their holders. The PAN card or passport serves as proof of identity and is similar to a PAN card.

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The information, product and services provided on this website are provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis without any warranty or representation, express or implied. Khatabook Blogs are meant purely for educational discussion of financial products and services. Khatabook does not make a guarantee that the service will meet your requirements, or that it will be uninterrupted, timely and secure, and that errors, if any, will be corrected. The material and information contained herein is for general information purposes only. Consult a professional before relying on the information to make any legal, financial or business decisions. Use this information strictly at your own risk. Khatabook will not be liable for any false, inaccurate or incomplete information present on the website. Although every effort is made to ensure that the information contained in this website is updated, relevant and accurate, Khatabook makes no guarantees about the completeness, reliability, accuracy, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, product, services or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Khatabook will not be liable for the website being temporarily unavailable, due to any technical issues or otherwise, beyond its control and for any loss or damage suffered as a result of the use of or access to, or inability to use or access to this website whatsoever.
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Disclaimer :
The information, product and services provided on this website are provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis without any warranty or representation, express or implied. Khatabook Blogs are meant purely for educational discussion of financial products and services. Khatabook does not make a guarantee that the service will meet your requirements, or that it will be uninterrupted, timely and secure, and that errors, if any, will be corrected. The material and information contained herein is for general information purposes only. Consult a professional before relying on the information to make any legal, financial or business decisions. Use this information strictly at your own risk. Khatabook will not be liable for any false, inaccurate or incomplete information present on the website. Although every effort is made to ensure that the information contained in this website is updated, relevant and accurate, Khatabook makes no guarantees about the completeness, reliability, accuracy, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, product, services or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Khatabook will not be liable for the website being temporarily unavailable, due to any technical issues or otherwise, beyond its control and for any loss or damage suffered as a result of the use of or access to, or inability to use or access to this website whatsoever.