Digital Signature Certificate (DSC)


Digital Signature (DSC) is a signature in an electronic format. Digital Signatures are used in India for online transactions such as Filing Annual Return, Company or LLP Incorporation, Income Tax E-Filing, E-Tenders, etc. There are 3 types of Digital Signatures – Class I, Class II and Class III. Class I digital signature is used for securing email communications. Class II digital signature is utilized for company registrations, IT Return, E-filing, obtaining DIN, DPIN, etc. Class III digital signature is used for E-tendering and participating in E-auctions.

Documents required

  1. Passport size photographs
  2. Copy of PAN card
  3. Copy of Aadhaar Card/ Voter ID Card

Steps to apply for a DSC

  1. Log on and select your type of entity – Log on to the website of a Certifying Authority licensed to issue Digital Certificates in India. Having accessed the page, you will be guided to the Digital Certification Services’ section. Now under the ‘Digital Certification Services’ section, click on the type of entity for which you want to obtain the DSC:’ individual or organization’, etc.
  1. Fill the necessary details – Once you have downloaded the form, fill in all the necessary details as required in the form:
  • Class of the DSC.
  • Validity.
  • Type: Only Sign or Sign & Encrypt.
  • Applicant Name & 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 affix your recent photograph and put your signature under the declaration. Check thoroughly for completion of the form. Take a print of the completed form and preserve it.

  1. Proof of identity and address – The supporting document provided as proof of identity and address must be attested by an attesting officer. Ensure the sign and seal of the attesting officer is visibly clear on the supporting proof documents. 
  1. Payment for DSC – A demand draft or cheque must be obtained towards payment for application of DSC in the name of the Local Registration Authority where you are going to submit your application for verification. You can find the details of the Local Registration Authority according to your city of residence by searching for a Certifying Authority licensed to issue Digital Certificates online.
  1. Post the documents required – Enclose the following in an envelope:
  • DSC Registration Form duly completed – Supporting document for Proof of Identity and proof of address attested by the attesting officer.
  • Demand Draft/Cheque for payment.

Address the enclosed envelope to the Local Registration Authority (LRA) and post it to the designated address of the LRA for further processing.

On completion of the above-mentioned steps by filling in the DSC Form and providing necessary documents and payment, you have successfully completed the application process for your Digital Signature Certificate.

Rectifying Mistake in Digital Signature Certificate

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

  • Log in with the existing user-id.
  • Go to ‘Change DSC details’ option.
  • Fill the requisite details of the DSC.

Select the renewed/Changed DSC.

Benefits of DSC

  1. Validity-Digital Signatures usually comes with validity of one or two years and they can be easily renewed once validity expires.
  2. E-token-Digital signature certificate are stored in a secure USB Flash Drive called E-Token.
  3. Quick Processing-One can get DSC in very quick time of 1-3 days from date of submitting the application along with required documents.
  4. Class II Digital Signatures-It is used for company, LLP registrations, IT Return E-filing etc.
  5. Class III Digital Signatures-It is used mainly for E-Tendering and Participation in E-Auctions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is a Digital Signature?

Ans. Digital Signature Certificates (DSC) are the digital equivalent (that is electronic format) of physical or paper certificates. Few Examples of physical certificates are drivers’ licenses, passports or membership cards. Certificates serve as proof of identity of an individual for a certain purpose; for example, a driver’s license identifies someone who can legally drive in a particular country. Likewise, a digital certificate can be presented electronically to prove one’s identity, to access information or services on the Internet or to sign certain documents digitally.

  1. Who can obtain a Digital Signature?

Ans. A Digital Signature can be obtained by any person (Indian Citizen and Foreign Nationals) and any type of business entity (Partnership, LLP, Company, Trust and others).

  1. How long does it take to obtain a Digital Signature?

Ans. Digital signature can be obtained within 1-3 working days from date of submitting the application along with the required documents.

  1. Is physical verification required before issuing DSC?

Ans. No, physical verification is not required for issuing a Digital Signature.

  1. What are the documents required to register DSC?

Ans. To obtain a Digital Signature, application form for the Digital Signature must be submitted along with a self-attested copy of the applicant’s identity proof and address proof and also along with photograph of applicant.

  1. Who needs to apply for a Digital Signature Certificate?

Ans. 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.

  1. Where can I use the digital signature certificate?

Ans, 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, for various regulatory company filings.

  1. What are the different classes of Digital Signature Certificate?

Ans. 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 Authority 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 would like to participate in online auctions or tenders. It is the highest and most secure form of a digital signature certificate. To obtain this, the applicant must present himself or herself in front of a registration authority.

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

Ans. Most certifying authorities take between three to seven days to issue a digital certificate in India.

  1. What is the validity of the Digital Signature Certificate?

Ans. 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.

  1. Can I hold multiple digital signatures certificates?

Ans. 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.

  1. Can I renew the certificate?

Ans. 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.