What is a Digital Signature Certificate(DSC)

Digital Signature Certificate(DSC) is an electronic equivalent of a written signature. A digital signature is an electronic signature issued by a certifying authority that shows the authority of the person signing the same. As per the provisions of The Information Technology Act, 2000 e-forms are required to be signed by the authorized signatories using digital signatures. A Digital Signature Certificate(DSC) can be presented electronically to prove the validity of the identity of a person, to approve information or services on the Internet, or to sign certain documents digitally.

Purpose of DSC

Every person who is required to sign an e-form for submission with MCA or online bidding is required to obtain a Digital Signature Certificate(DSC). 

Person Required to obtain DSC

Following four types of persons who are required to obtain a digital signature certificate:

  • Authorized signatories of the Company such as Managing Director, Directors, Manager, or Secretary. 
  • Representatives of Banks and Financial Institutions.
  • Government Employees. 
  • Professionals (Company Secretaries(CS), Chartered Accountants(CA), Cost Accountants, and Lawyers).

Types of DSC

Class 1: This class of certificates are issued to individual/private subscribers and are used to validate that the name of the user, E-mail and contact details lie within the database of the certifying authority(CA).

Class 2: This class of certificates is Issued to the director/signatory authorities of the companies for the purpose of e-filing of documents such as Form AOC 4 for filing the financial statement and other documents with the Registrar and Form MGT 7 for filing annual return by a company with the Registrar of Companies (ROC). This class of certificate is obligatory for individuals who are required to sign documents during filing of returns with the ROC.

Class 3: This class of certificates is used in partaking/bidding in e-auctions and tenders within India. A person who aspires to participate in the online tenders must have a Class 3 digital signature certificate.

How to obtain

A person requiring a Digital Signature Certificate(DSC) may approach any of the Certifying Authorities(CA) recognized by the MCA, with the help of original supporting documents and self-attested copies, to obtain Digital Signature Certificate. 

DSCs can also be obtained, wherever offered by CA, using Aadhaar KYC based authentication, and herein supporting documents are not required. Registration of DSC is a one-time activity on the MCA portal. For registration of DSC, steps are given on the MCA Portal.

All companies must adhere to this requirement of registration of DSC by the director, manager, and secretary.

Non-resident directors must obtain a Digital Signature Certificate from an Indian Certifying Authority. The process of registration of DSC is similar as applicable to Indian directors.

Validity Period

Certifying authorities(CAs) generally takes 3 to 7 working days to issue a Digital Signature Certificate(DSC). DSC may also be issued by some Certifying Authorities(CA’s) on the same day based on E-KYC for Aadhaar Holders on the fulfillment of terms and conditions. Digital Signature Certificate has a validity period of one or two years after that a DSC is required to be renewed.

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