What is a Digital Signature Certificate?
The Digital Signature Certificate is essential to ensure security of the documents. It is affixed by the authorized individual to documents provided in electronic form. This helps in determining that the documents thus verified are secure and authentic. It is a mandate that the documents submitted with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs electronically shall have attached with them a Digital Signature Certificate. The Certificate is being used to validate the online transactions of businesses. The main authority in this regard is the Controller of Certification Agencies. The Controller is responsible under the provisions of Information Technology Act, 2000 to appoint certification agencies. In this regard the Controller of Certification Agencies has appointed a total of eight Certification Agencies which are authorized to issue Digital Signature Certificates. While getting these certificates, the individual has the option to choose as to which class of certificates need to be received with respect to the purpose. Different types of the digital signature certificates are as follows:
- Class 1: This is not something that companies can utilize. This class only verifies the names and email addresses of the individual.
- Class 2: This is required by companies and other organisations. This class of certificate can be used to fill out tax forms. A Class 2 digital signature certificate checks a person's identity against a trustworthy database that has been pre-verified. However, with the recent notice of the Controller of Certifying Authority this class of certificates has been outdated and replaced with the Class 3 of certificates.
- Class 3: Individuals or companies who want to participate in online auctions or tenders will need this. It is the most advanced and secure type of digital signature certificate available.
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The Information Technology Act of 2000 includes provisions for the use of digital signatures on documents submitted in electronic form to assure the security and authenticity of those documents. This is a safe and secure method of submitting a document electronically. As a result, all filings made by companies/LLPs must be signed using Digital Signatures by the person whose signature is requested.
Only the valid Digital Signatures issued to them can be used. It is against the law to use Digital Signatures that belong to someone other than the person to whom they were issued.
Procedure to obtain and costs of obtaining a DSC?
One needs to understand the procedure to obtain the Digital Signature Certificate in order to receive it. When applying for a Digital Signature Certificate, one needs to complete the Application form which is available online and personal information then needs to be verified with photo ID proof and address proofs.
The following are the steps to receive a DSC:
- Visit the Certifying Authority’s online page. Select the Digital Certificate Services section post which the type of entity needs to be chosen for which the Digital Signature Certificate is sought for: whether a person or an organization.
- After finding the appropriate form, the required information needs to be filled in the form such as the class required, the period of validity of the certificate, name of the applicant and his contact details, business GSTIN, payment details.
After filling out all of the required information, a recent photograph needs to be attached and the statement needs to be signed. An attesting officer must certify the supporting document presented as confirmation of identity and address. It must be ensured that the attesting officer's signature and seal are clearly visible on the accompanying proof documents.
- A demand draft or cheque in the name of the Local Registration Authority where you will submit your application for verification must be obtained for payment of the DSC application.
- Put the following items in an envelope:
- Filled-up Registration Form including the documents for Proof of Identity and Proof of Address attested by the authorized officer
- Payment made via demand draught or cheque.'
The cost of obtaining the DSC includes the cost of the medium (a UBS token, which is a one-time payment), the cost of DSC issuance, and the cost of renewal once the validity term has expired. DSCs can be obtained from any of the recognised Certification Agencies listed on the MCA portal by corporate representatives and professionals who need them. The issuing costs for each Agency vary and are determined by the market.
The Certifying Authorities are entitled to issue a certificate with a validity of one or two years. The validity of the certificate needs to be known to the applicant well in advance. After the expiry of the validity period, the digital signature certificate can be renewed within seven days’ time. However it needs to be checked that the renewal is being made in the previos name only. And if the name is changed then the whole application procedure shall be considered as a new one. It is permitted to change the postal address and contact information. Also after the expiry of the Certificate if the renewal process is not completed within seven days’ time as stated above then the individual shall be required to apply from the start afresh.
What is a DSC token?
USB Token for DSC or Digital Signature Certificate for Digital Signing have risen to prominence in recent years owing to its charcateristic of providing significant measures of protection. The Controller of Certifying Authority requires users to have a USB token in addition to their Digital Signature Certificates, users can use these Plug and Play tokens to download and install DSCs on them. People can now complete their signing operations from remote places owing to the two-factor authentication method for validation and secure local and remote desktop login. The best part about utilising USB tokens to sign desired documents and files is that they are easy to carry and can be placed on any device. Furthermore, the signed documents can never be changed and cannot be changed without the consent of the signer. The usage of password-protected tokens provides the token users or signers with a high level of protection. Proxkey, mToken, ePass 2003 are few of the types of USB tokens To utilise a digital signature, you must first get a Digital Signature Certificate by submitting an application to one of the registered Certifying Authorities. When the DSC and USB Token are received, it is simple to use them to sign any PDF document online. The most secure way to digitally sign a document is with a USB Token containing your DSC.