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A digital signature is an electronic form of a signature that can be used to authenticate the identity of the sender of a message or the signer of a document, and also ensure that the original content of the message or document that has been sent is unchanged.

(A) Meaning DSC (Digital Signature Certificate)

Digital Signature Certificates (DSC) is the electronic format of physical or paper certificates like a driving license, passport, etc. Certificates serve as proof of the identity of an individual for a certain purpose.

For example, a Passport identifies someone as a citizen of that country; who can legally travel to any country. Likewise, a Digital Signature Certificate can be presented electronically to prove your identity, to access information or services on the Internet, or to sign certain documents digitally.

Types of Digital Signature Certificates are:

Class 2: Here, the identity of a person is verified against a trusted, pre-verified database. (Note- From 1 January 2021, no new class 2 DSC will be released in India)

Class 3: This is the highest level where the person needs to present himself or herself in front of a Registration Authority (RA) and prove his/ her identity.

(B) Procedure of obtaining DSC in India

(List of latest Certifying authorities can be found through this link: https://www.mca.gov.in/MinistryV2/certifyingauthorities.html)

a. Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) Applicants can directly approach Certifying Authorities (CAs) with original supporting documents, and self-attested copies will be sufficient in this case.

b. DSCs can also be obtained, wherever offered by CA, using the below-mentioned methods, and supporting documents are not required in this case.

c. A letter/certificate issued by a Bank containing the DSC applicant’s information as retained in the Bank database can be accepted. Such letter/certificate should be certified by the Bank Manager

(C) Methods of Obtaining DSC in India-

There are three different paperless eKYC verification-based methods for acquiring the Digital signature certificate. The applicant can opt for the method they prefer.

  • Aadhar-Based Paperless DSC

Any applicant who is an Aadhaar cardholder can apply for the Digital Signature Certificates in a paperless manner using, “Aadhaar Offline eKYC” procedure. The process of applying for a DSC application to generate orders and download the DSC is quick and can get completed within 15-20 mins.

  • Pan Based Paperless DSC

By opting for the PAN-based Paperless DSC, the applicant can save on the relative cost. The process of obtaining the Pan-based Paperless DSC is easy, fast, and followed by a quick video verification

  • GST Based Paperless DSC

CA’s provide the GST Based paperless Organisational DSCs (Digital Signature Certificate) for Organisations having their exclusive GST certificate.

Overview of Digital Signature Certificates (DSC)

(D) FAQ’s- Frequently Asked Questions on DSC

1. What is the validity period of a Digital Signature Certificate?

Ans. The Certifying Authorities are authorized to issue a Digital Signature Certificate with a validity of one or two years.

2. Is DSC legally accepted in India?

Ans. Digital Signatures are legally admissible in a Court of Law, as provided under the provisions of IT Act, 2000.

3. Why Class 2 DSC shall be discontinued from 1st January 2021?

Ans. From 1 January 2021, no new class 2 DSC will be issued in India because CCA has a broader overview of DSC and is best positioned to simplify DSC for ordinary citizens in India.

4. Will the earlier issued Class 2 DSC continue to work?

Ans. Active Class 2 DSC will continue to operate until the expiry date.

5. What to do if DSC gets expired?

Ans. Either you can Contact the Certifying Authority who issued your last DSC and Renew/Revalidate your DSC by paying the requisite fees or apply new DSC.

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