A digital signature is simply a form of electronic signature. And it is an essential item for every business owner and enterprise. Any individual can present electronically to prove identity, access services on the internet, or sign certain documents digitally.
Here in this article, we intend to explore different types of digital signature certificates (DSC). Additionally, how to apply and where to apply to get a digital signature in India.
In India, only a licensed certifying authority (CA) can issue a digital signature. CA is an authorized person who has been granted a license to issue a digital signature certificate under Section 24 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
Suggested Read: How to Register a Company/ Startup in India
A digital signature provides a high level of security for online transactions by ensuring absolute privacy of information exchanged using a DSC. Additionally, the certificate contains information about the user’s identity (name, pin code, country, email address, the date the certificate was issued, and the name of the certifying authority).
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Different Types of Digital Signatures
There are three different types of DSC available in India. And all of them are used for different purposes.
a) Class 1 DSC
Class 1 DSCs are only used for verifying the association of an email address with a specific person. Therefore, Class 1 DSC has no legal validity in signing the documents.
b) Class 2 DSC
Class 2 DSC validates the identity of a person against a pre-verified database. Therefore, Class 2 DSC is used for Filling the documents at the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), Sales Tax, and the Income Tax Department.
c) Class 3 DSC
Class 3 DSC is the highly secured form of digital signature. These types of DSCs are used to establish the identity signee in eCommerce and E-trading. Additionally, Class 3 DSC is also used for Trademark registration. The person who is applying for Class 3 DSC, needs to present himself or herself in front of a registration authority (RA) and prove his/ her identity.
Validity Of Digital Signature
Digital Signatures usually come with a validity of one or two years. Additionally, you can renew the DSC once the term of the previous DSC expires.
Who Requires Digital Signature Certificate?
Under MCA21 all the authorized signatories of the company and professionals who sign the manual documents and returns filed with ROC are required to obtain a Digital Signature Certificate (DSC). Therefore the following person has to procure DSC:
- Company Secretary – Whether in practice or in the job.
- Bank Officials – for Registration and Satisfaction of Charges
- Other Authorized Signatories.
Where & How To Get The DSC
The Office of Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA), issues certificates only to Certifying Authorities. CA issued Digital Signature Certificate to the end user. You can approach any one of the seven CAs for getting DSC. The website addresses are given below.
Documents required for DSC vary depending on what Class of DSC you are applying for. You can obtain a DSC within 2 to 3 working days from the time of submission. However, you must submit the application with the required documents. The application must be submitted in hard format along with a self-attested copy of the address and identity proof of the applicant.
Generally, a DSC comes with a secure USB flash drive called an E-Token. And you must connect that USB drive to a computer to electronically sign a document with a digital signature.