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A Digital Signature Certificate is a secure digital key that is issued by the certifying authorities for the purpose of validating and verifying the identity of the person holding this certificate. Digital Signatures make use of the public key encryptions to create the signatures.

A digital signature certificate (DSC) contains information about the user’s name, pin code, country, email address, date of issuance of certificate and name of the certifying authority.

Benefits of a digital signature certificate

  • Digital Signature Certificates are helpful in authenticating the personal information details of the individual holder when conducting business online.

  • Reduced cost and time: Instead of signing the hard copy documents physically and scanning them to send them via e-mail, you can digitally sign the PDF files and send them much more quickly. 

  • The Digital Signature certificate holder does not have to be physically present to conduct or authorize a business

  • Data integrity: Documents that are signed digitally cannot be altered or edited after signing, which makes the data safe and secure.

  • The government agencies often ask for these certificates to cross-check and verify the business transaction.

  • Authenticity of documents: Digitally signed documents give confidence to the receiver to be assured of the signer’s authenticity. They can take action on the basis of such documents without getting worried about the documents being forged.

Classes of DSC

The type of applicant and the purpose for which the Digital Signature Certificate is obtained defines the kind of DSC one must apply for depending on the need. There are three types of Digital Signature certificates issued by the certifying authorities.

Class 1 Certificates: These are issued to 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 database of the certifying authority.

Class 2 Certificates: These are issued to the director/signatory authorities of the companies for the purpose of e-filing with the Registrar of Companies (ROC). Class 2 certificate is mandatory for individuals who have to sign manual documents while filing of returns with the ROC.

Class 3 Certificates: These certificates are used in online participation/bidding in e-auctions and online tenders anywhere in India. The vendors who wish to participate in the online tenders must have a Class 3 digital signature certificate.

Documents Required for Indian Nationals

In case the applicant is an Indian National, please submit the following documents for identity and address proof:

Identity Proof

  1. Passport

  2. PAN Card of the Applicant

  3. Driving Licence

  4. Post Office ID Card

  5. Bank Account Passbook containing the photograph and signed by an individual with attestation by the concerned Bank official

  6. Photo ID card issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs of Centre/State Governments

  7. Any Government issued photo ID card bearing the signatures of the individual

Address Proof

  1. AADHAAR Card

  2. Voter ID Card

  3. Driving Licence (DL)/Registration Certificate (RC)

  4. Water Bill (Not older than 3 Months).

  5. Electricity Bill (Not older than 3 Months)

  6. Latest Bank Statements signed by the bank (Not older than 3 Months)

  7. Service Tax/VAT Tax/Sales Tax registration certificate

  8. Property Tax/ Corporation/ Municipal Corporation Receipt

Documents Required for Foreign Nationals

In case the applicant is a Foreign National, please submit the following documents for identity and address proof:

Identity Proof

  1. Attested copy of Applicant Passport

  2. Attested copy of VISA (If applicant is out of native country).

  3. Attested copy of Resident Permit certificate (If applicant is in India)

Address Proof

  1. Attested copy of Applicant Passport

  2. Attested copy of any other Government issued Address Proof

The identity and address proof of foreign nationals must be attested by the following authorities:

  1. Embassy of Native Country (If applicant is out of native country)

  2. Apostilized by Native Country, after Public Notary (if country is in Hague Convention)

  3. Consularized by Native Country, after Public Notary (if country is not in Hague Convention)

Steps to apply for a digital signature certificate

STEP 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.

In case you are applying for an individual DSC, click on ‘individual’. A new tab containing the DSC Registration Form will appear. Download the DSC Registration Form on your PC.

STEP 2: Fill the necessary details

Once you have downloaded the form, fill in all the necessary details as required in the form:

1. Class of the DSC

2. Validity

3. Type: Only Sign or Sign & Encrypt

4. Applicant Name & Contact Details

5. Residential Address

6. GST Number & Identity Details of Proof Documents

7. Declaration

8. Document as proof of identity

9. Document as proof of address

10. Attestation Officer

11. 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.

STEP 3: 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.

STEP 4: 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.

STEP 5: Post the documents required

Enclose the following in an envelope.

1. DSC Registration Form duly completed

-Supporting document for Proof of Identity and proof of address attested by the attesting officer

2. 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.


  1. Digital being added to almost anything makes it a lot faster than the non-digital version of that thing. Similarly, a digital signature can be used to send documents a lot faster, almost instantaneously, as the documents can now be sent via mail and do not need to be delivered in person or via courier.

  2. Also, an added advantage would be the decreased cost of sending the documents as the digital signatures are comparatively a lot less expensive than any courier service charge for sending documents.

  3. Not only this, a document sent via courier or in person could be tampered with on the way but when sent using a digital signature it gets encrypted in such a way that any kind of tampering with the document is not possible.

  4. Further, a document which is digitally signed can effortlessly tracked and located in few minutes.

  5. Nobody else can fake your digital signature or present an electronic file incorrectly claiming it was signed by you.

  6. The documents containing digital signatures are in no way different form documents containing a pen on paper signature as they would even stand in court when produced because a digital signature cannot be copied and also contains a date and time stamp.


The advantages greatly overshadow the disadvantages. Practically the only disadvantages of using digital signature are the weak laws regarding cyber security which might cause any unnecessary hassles in case of a court case and that both parties have to purchase the certificates for the digital signature in order to use it instead of the one party courier charge.


Q. What type of Digital Signature Certificate is required for e-Tendering, e-Procurement, Trademark / Patent filing?
Ans. Class 3 Company / Organization User certificate is required for e-Tendering, e-Procurement, Trademark / Patent filing. Class 3 is the highest type of Digital Signature Certificate. it can be issued for 1 years or 2 years. After the valid period, user need to renew class 3 digital signature certificates. 

Q. What type of Digital Signature Certificate is required for Income Tax filing, ROC and MCA filing?
Ans. Class 2 Digital Signature Certificate is required for Income Tax filing, ROC and MCA filing. Class 2 Digital Signature Certificate can be issued for 1 year or 2 years. After the valid period, user need to renew class 2 digital signature certificates. Class 2 Digital Signature certificate can be issued to individual / organization. 

Q. What type of Digital Signature Certificate is required for Importers-Exporters?
Class 3 DGFT Digital Signature Certificate is required for DGFT website to communicate. DGFT Digital Signature is valid for 1 years or 2 years. User can save time and money by using DGFT Digital Signature Certificate. 

Q. What type of Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) is to be obtained for e-Filing on the MCA Portal?
DSC of Class 2 and Class 3 category issued by a licensed Certifying Authority (CA) needs to be obtained for e-filing on the MCA Portal. 

Q. What does X509 refer to as it relates to digital certificates?
Ans. X509 is the industry standard for digital certificate format. It defined the various mandatory and optional attributes that can be defined within the certificate. 

Q. Why does a digital signature certificate have a limited validity period?
Ans. Digital signature certificates have an explicit start date and an explicit expiration date. Most applications check the validity period of a certificate when the digital certificate is used. The signature certificate expiration date is also used for managing the certificate revocation list (CRL). A certificate is removed from the revocation list when its natural expiration date arrives. As such, generally the shorter the certificate validity period, the shorter the CRL. 

Q. What is a root certificate, and why do I need one?
Ans. A root certificate is one of two things: Either an unsigned public key certificate or a self-signed certificate used to identify the Root Certificate Authority (CA). The root certificate is in fact the anchor of trust in a digital certificate and is used for validating the entire certification tree. 

Q. Can a person have two digital signatures say one for official use and other one for personal use?
Ans. Yes