Digital Signature Certificates

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Digital Signature Certificates

A Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) is a secure digital key that certifies the identity of the holder, issued by a Certifying Authority (CA). It typically contains your identity (name, email, country, APNIC account name and your public key). Digital Certificates use Public Key Infrastructure meaning data that has been digitally signed or encrypted by a private key can only be decrypted by its corresponding public key. A digital certificate is an electronic “credit card” that establishes your credentials when doing business or other transactions on the Web.

Understanding Digital Signatures

We are living in a world where carrying out daily business and personal activities are becoming very easy and smooth. In an era where digital signatures are being greatly embraced in the entire world, we no longer have any limitations in our business or personal lives.

Typically, physical documents like invoices will always need a handwritten signature to validate their authenticity. Just in the same way, electronic documents will also need authentication. This is the role of digital signatures. They serve to authenticate the electronic document.

The digital signature is an electronic signature that is used by senders of certain documents to show that the document originates from them. They are amazing in also ensuring the security of the document. If the document gets interfered with during the sending process, then the receiver will be able to know there has been an alteration because of the digital signature.

Digital signature certificates contain the person’s name, their pin-code, their country name, the email address, the date when the certificate was issued, and the certifying authority’s name. This certificate gives further validation of the digital signature.

The beauty of digital signatures is that they can be used by anyone for any reason they have. It has no restrictions. This means that the digital signature can be used in so many sectors of life. Here are a few places you can use the digital signature.

For personal use: You can always sign every document that you send out electronically for security purpose. It does not matter where you are sending the document and to whom. You can use it the best way you please.


In business: You can always send electronically signed documents to your business partners, investors, and other shareholders when communicating important official information. There are other examples where digital signatures are applicable, and they include signing business deals and signing proposals.

This also includes those doing business in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction companies (AEC). These signs can also be used in business to sign tenders, procurements, and even in making biddings. They make running of businesses very easy and smooth.


Return filling for GST: With the introduction of GST in India, businesses have seen better days. Even so, the filling of returns is what many people have had issues with. But because of the issuance of digital signatures and the availability of e-filling, the process has been made easier, faster, efficient, and convenient.

Learn about GST Return Filing. Also read about guide to register DSC with GST.


Filling of income tax: Many citizens of India always have to file their income tax returns all over India. The introduction of e-filling made things a little easier, and with the introduction of digital signatures, things have become better than ever. You can sign all the documents required while in the comfort of your home.


For ROC e-filling: Companies are required to file numerous documents with the Registrar of Companies in India. Therefore, digital signatures will come in handy when signing these documents.


Finance and insurance sector: This is yet another sector that needs a lot of paperwork. Whether it is the application of loans, mortgages, claiming of insurance or applying for one, signatures will always be required. To streamline these activities and make business smooth and easy, these institutions are using digital signatures.

Digital can be used in every aspect of life. There are no restrictions as to where and when you can use the digital signatures unless stated otherwise in a certain country.

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.

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.

Digital Signature Certificates

Digital signatures cryptographically bind an electronic identity to an electronic document and the digital signature cannot be copied to another document. Paper contracts sometimes have the ink signature block on the last page, and the previous pages may be replaced after a signature is applied. Digital signatures can be applied to an entire document, such that the digital signature on the last page will indicate tampering if any data on any of the pages have been altered, but this can also be achieved by signing with ink and numbering all pages of the contract.

A Digital Signature is the equivalent of a physical signature in electronic format, as it establishes the identity of the sender of an electronic document in the Internet. Digital Signatures are used in India for online transactions such as Income Tax E-Filing, Company or LLP Incorporation, Filing Annual Return, E-Tenders, etc., There are three types of Digital Signatures, Class I, Class II and Class III Digital Signature. Class I type of Digital Signatures are only used for securing email communication. Class II type of Digital Signatures are used for Company or LLP Incorporation, IT Return E-Filing, Obtaining DIN or DPIN, and filing other forms with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and Income Tax Department. Class III type Digital Signatures are used mainly for E-Tendering and for participating in E-Auctions. Digital Signatures come in the form of a USB E-Token, wherein the Digital Signature Certificate is stored in a USB Drive and can be accessed through a computer to sign documents electronically.

An ink signature could be replicated from one document to another by copying the image manually or digitally, but to have credible signature copies that can resist some scrutiny is a significant manual or technical skill, and to produce ink signature copies that resist professional scrutiny is very difficult.

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It is an easy and simple process. Open the word document that requires a signature, or you can create a new document. At the top of the window, click on the ‘insert’ tab. At the corner of the toolbar, identify an icon that looks like a hand holding a pen, it is called the signature line; click on it. You will get two options, click on the Microsoft office signature line option. A signature setup box will appear requiring certain details. Fill the box accordingly. Click the ‘ok’ button. On the signature line, make a right click then select the sign option. You will see a box next to the letter X, type your name here. If there is an image file that contains your written signature, click the ‘select image’ icon then select the file that has it. When you have done it, click the ‘sign’ button.

Yes, most of the governments have a dedicated site to provide information on digital certificates. For example, In India, the ministry has a website dedicated to FAQs on DSC.

Digital signatures make sending electronic documents easy, fast, and smooth. You can do this from wherever you are and at any time.

No. What you will see is the name of the signer, their title, the name of the firm, the serial number of their DSC, and the name of the CA.

Typically, a digital signature has a private key that is unique to the signer and a public key that receivers use to identify the private key. The public key will read the signature that has been created by the private key, and it determines whether or not it is authentic.

There are three types of DSCs

  • Class I type is used only for securing email communication
  • Class II type is used for Company or LLP Incorporation, IT Return E-Filing, obtaining DIN or DPIN and filing other forms with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and Income Tax Department
  • Class III type is used mainly for E-Tendering and for participating in E-Auctions

For most business compliance, Class II digital signature suffices.

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