Basics about Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) in India

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If you are a startup or soon-to be one, obtaining DSC is one of the basic requirements for registering your business entity in India. Here is all the basic information one needs to know about DSC.

What is Digital Signature Certificate

Digital Signature Certificates (DSC) are the digital equivalent (that is electronic format) of physical or paper certificates. Few Examples of physical certificates are drivers’ licenses, passports or membership cards. Certificates serve as proof of identity of an individual for a certain purpose; for example, a driver’s license identifies someone who can legally drive in a particular country. Likewise, a digital certificate can be presented electronically to prove one’s identity, to access information or services on the Internet or to sign certain documents digitally.

Why DSC is required

Physical documents are signed manually, similarly, electronic documents, for example e-forms are required to be signed digitally using a Digital Signature Certificate.

The Information Technology Act, 2000 has provisions to use the DSC on the documents submitted in electronic form. Using DSC ensures the security and authenticity of the documents filed electronically. As such, all filings done by the companies/LLPs under the MCA21 e-Governance programme are required to be filed using DSC by the person authorized to sign the documents. In case you need to sign an eForm that need to be filed with MCA, your DSC should be associated with the MCA21 application.

Issuing authority

A licensed Certifying Authority (CA) issues the digital signature. Certifying Authority (CA) means a person who has been granted a license to issue a digital signature certificate under Section 24 of the Indian IT-Act 2000.

What are the different types of valid Digital Signature Certificates accepted by MCA

Class 2: Here, the identity of a person is verified against a trusted, pre-verified database.

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.

For e-Filing on the MCA portal, DSC of either Class 2 and Class 3 signing certificate category issued by a licensed Certifying Authority (CA) needs to be obtained.

How much does it cost?

Costs may vary based on certifying authorities.

Process to obtain Digital Signature Certificates

Certifying Authorities (CA) has been granted a license to issue a digital signature certificate under Section 24 of the Indian IT-Act 2000. One can procure Class 2 or 3 certificates from any of the certifying authorities. Here is a list of  licensed CAs,

1. National Informatics Center (NIC)

2. IDRBT Certifying Authority

3. SafeScrypt CA Services, Sify Communications Ltd.

4. (n) Code Solutions CA


Find more information on how to obtain DSC by clicking here.

How much time it takes to get a DSC?

The time generally taken by CAs to issue a DSC may vary from three to seven working days. Also on fulfilment of terms and conditions DSC is issued by some CA’s on same day based on eKYC for Aadhaar Holders.

What is the validity period of a Digital Signature Certificate?

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

What is the legal status of a Digital Signature?

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

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