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Overview:


A Digital Signature Certificate is a secure digital key provided by certifying authority to validate and confirm the identity of the person who holds the certificate. Digital Signature Certificates are the digital (electronic) equivalents of physical or paper certificates. To produce signatures, digital signatures make use of public-key encryptions.

A digital certificate can be used to authenticate one's identity, get access to information or services on the Internet, or digitally sign documents. A digital signature certificate (DSC) includes information such as the user's name, pin code, country, email address, certificate issue date, and certifying authority name.

Digital Signature Certificates or DSC or Digital Signature are being adopted by various government agencies and now is a statutory requirement in various applications.


Types of DSC



The class of digital signature certificates is classified as per the utilization and type of applicant.

There are 3 different classes of DSCs issued by the certifying authorities:

Class 1 DSC :

Class 1 DSC is issued by the certifying authorities to:

  • An individual or
  • Private subscriber

Class 1 Certificates are issued to individuals and private persons. This certificate confirms that the person’s information is the same and in sync with the details that he or she has submitted online at various databases. It authenticates the user’s email id and names as given under the CA database.

Class 2 DSC :

Class 2 DSC is issued by the certifying authorities to the persons who have signing authorities and this includes

  • CEO
  • Directors

Class 2 Certificates are issued to both business persons and individuals. Along with Email Ids and Names, it also looks into other details and establishes their veracity with the user’s information as given under the CA database. However, from the beginning of January 1, 2021, the Controller of Certifying Authority has ordered that Class 2 Certificates be discontinued and be replaced with Class 3 Certificates.

Class 3 DSC :

Class 3 Certificate can be obtained by various organizations, business firms, and individuals. However, these certificates hold greater significance for e-commerce applications. So, CA will issue such a certificate only when a person is physically present and interested in receiving the same.

Vendors must have a Class 3 digital signature certificate to take part in the online tenders. Entrepreneurs and commercial establishments who deal in crores and crores of money need to obtain a Class 3 certificate for uninterrupted business dealings online.

Documents required to apply for DSC:


Documents Required for Indian Nationals

In the case of an Individual Certificate

  • Aadhaar Offline XML
  • OR
  • PAN (Softcopy)
  • Address proof (Softcopy)
  • Photo (Softcopy)

In the case of an Organization Certificate

  • Authorization Letter
  • Identity proof
  • Organizational proof
  • Authorized Signatory proof

The following are the list accepted for:


Identity Proof

  • Aadhaar
  • Passport
  • PAN Card of the Applicant
  • Driving License
  • Post Office ID Card
  • Bank Account Passbook containing the photograph and signed by an individual with attestation by the concerned Bank official
  • Photo ID card issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs of Centre/State Governments
  • Any Government-issued photo ID card bearing the signatures of the individual

Address Proof

  • Aadhaar Card
  • Telephone Bill
  • Voter ID Card
  • Any Government-issued photo ID card bearing the signatures of the individual
  • Driving license (DL)/Registration Certificate (RC)
  • Water Bill (Not older than 3 months).
  • Electricity Bill (Not older than 3 months)
  • Latest Bank Statements signed by the bank (Not older than 3 Months)
  • Service Tax/VAT Tax/Sales Tax registration certificate
  • Gas Connection
  • Property Tax/ Corporation/ Municipal Corporation Receipt

Documents Required for Foreign Nationals

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

Identity Proof (All are mandatory)

  • Attested copy of Applicant Passport
  • Attested copy of VISA (If the applicant is out of a foreign country).
  • Attested copy of Resident Permit certificate (If the applicant is in India)

Address Proof (All are mandatory)

  • Attested copy of Applicant Passport
  • 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 the applicant is not a citizen of India)

2. Apostilized by Native Country, after Public Notary (if the country is a signatory of Hague Convention)

3. Consularized by Native Country, after Public Notary (if the country is not a signatory of Hague Convention)


Workings of digital signatures



Digital signatures, like handwritten signatures, are unique to each signer. Digital signature solution providers, such as DocuSign, follow a specific protocol, called Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). PKI requires the provider to use a mathematical algorithm to generate two long numbers, called keys. One key is public, and one key is private.

When a signer electronically signs a document, the signature is created using the signer’s private key, which is always securely kept by the signer. The mathematical algorithm acts as a cypher, creating data matching the signed document, called a hash, and encrypting that data. The resulting encrypted data is the digital signature. The signature is also marked with the time that the document was signed. If the document changes after signing, the digital signature is invalidated.

As an example, Jane signs an agreement to sell a timeshare using her private key. The buyer receives the document. The buyer who receives the document also receives a copy of Jane’s public key. If the public key can’t decrypt the signature (via the cypher from which the keys were created), it means the signature isn’t Jane’s or has been changed since it was signed. The signature is then considered invalid.

To protect the integrity of the signature, PKI requires that the keys be created, conducted, and saved securely, and often requires the services of a reliable Certificate Authority (CA). Digital signature providers, like DocuSign, meet PKI requirements for safe digital signing.


How to Apply for a Digital Signature Certificate



Requirements for applying for a digital signature certificate include the following:

Submission of DSC Application form duly filled in by the applicant. Any individual applying for a Digital Signature Certificate is required to fill out an Application form for online submission which is subject to verification of personal details by the certifying authority.These are :

1. Valid means of identification (Photo ID)

2. Current Address with proof e.g., Utility bill bearing your name

To apply for a digital signature certificate please log in to the Signyourdoc website and follow the following steps:

1. Click on the Buy Digital signature option

Once on the website, look for the digital signature option that you are interested in. If you are applying for an individual then click on “individual” and in the case of an organization click “Organization”.

A new tab containing the DSC Registration Form is expected to appear. Download the DSC Registration Form on your PC.

2. Fill out the DSC Form

After downloading the form, fill out the necessary information. The details which are to be filled, include but are not limited to:

Class of the DSC

Type of certificate(Only Sign or Sign & Encrypt)

  • Your Name & Contact Details
  • Residential Address
  • GST Number & Identity Details of Proof Documents
  • Document as proof of identity
  • Document as proof of address
  • Attestation Officer
  • Payment Details

3. Payment for DSC

An interest draft or check must be gotten towards an instalment for use of DSC for the sake of the Local Registration Authority where you will present your application for confirmation.

You can discover the subtleties of the Local Registration Authority as per your city via scanning for a Certifying Authority authorized to issue Digital Certificates on the web

4. Mail DSC form with supporting documents

After payment send a mail to the Local Registration Authority. The mail should include:

  • Appropriately fill DSC registration form
  • A cheque for payment.

After completing the steps above, you have successfully finalized the application for a digital signature certificate


Benefits of a Digital Signature Certificate


There are many benefits of a digital signature certificate. Some of the following are:


Authentication: 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. A 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 based on such documents without getting worried about the documents being forged.



Validity of a Digital Signature



The authority's digital certifications are generally valid for one to two years. It can, however, be renewed, and the central government may impose a certain fee for it. Furthermore, the request for certificate renewal must be filed at least 7 days before the expiration of the digital certificate's validity term.


Conclusion



In today's world, dealing with large amounts of digital data has become the standard for all businesses. That might be a large number of photographs, word documents, or anything else in digital format. A digital signature is an effective means of determining who owns these data. The digital signature certificate is a safe digital key that not only verifies a person's identity but also protects the company as a whole. As a result, any subscriber can validate an electronic document by affixing a digital signature, assuring maximum efficiency and unaffected credibility.