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What is a Digital Signature?

A Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) validates and certifies the identity of a person. It leverages public key encryptions to create the signatures. A DSC includes information about the user's name, e-mail address, pin code, country, and date of issuance. It offers the highest level of security and reduces cost and time.

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How to get a Digital Signature Certificate

It’s time to digitally sign the documents. And Vakilsearch helps you make your Digital Signature Certificate in 3 simple steps –


We collect all the basic details like name, contact details, nationality

Step 1


We ask you to submit the supporting documents like address & identity proofs

Step 2


Once the requisite fee is paid, we validate your document via video and SMS.

Step 3

What is a Digital Signature Certificate? - An Overview

A digital signature certificate (DSC) is a secure digital key issued by recognised Certifying Authorities (CAs) to validate the identity of the certificate holder. It contains an individual’s name, digital signature, date of issuance of the certificate and date of expiry, and the name of the CA.

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Benefits of a Digital Signature Certificate

Apart from authenticating the certificate holder’s identity, DSC helps in the following ways:

Time-saving and cost-saving:

Digital signatures ensure a smoother workflow in an organization by limiting the time and cost spent on signing documents and contracts. Documents can be signed by the required persons in a click of a button. This is especially useful when the signer is located in a different area and there is no dependency for him/her to be physically present.

Enhanced security:

Added security features in DSC prevents unauthorised use of your document and data. No one can fake your signature, tamper the data or alter your document. DSC ensures your signature is valid, verified and legitimate.

Legal validity:

According to the Information Technology Act, 2000, a DSC is accepted evidence in any court of law similar to the acceptance of any signed document.

Global acceptance:

Apart from government bodies like GST, MCA, Income Tax, etc., a DSC is being accepted in all the countries across the world as it offers greater security. DSC is important for companies looking to take part in government tenders.

Types of Digital Signature Certificate

There are three classes of DSC - Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 used for different purposes based on the type of entity and need.

Class 1:

Class 1 certificate is issued to both businesses and individuals, or private subscribers, to confirm the user’s name and email id as mentioned in the consumer database. This is just a basic assurance and is usually not considered to be of major significance.

Class 2:

Similar to Class 1, Class 2 certificate is issued to both the entities - businesses and private subscribers for confirmation of information in the database. It is used during monetary transactions or to access one’s personal information, and for other transactions, where there is a substantial risk of malicious activity. Also, Class 2 is used to file various government forms in India.

Class 3:

Class 3 certificate is an upgraded version of Class 2. It is issued to individuals and organisations that want to participate in bidding for government tenders or online tenders and auctions. Sometimes the applicants may be expected to be physically present before the CAs to receive a Class 3 certificate. Class 3 signatures are relevant to environments that are prone to data theft, fraudulence and failure of security.

How DSCs Work?

A DSC is created based on the PKI mechanism where two keys - a public key and private key are generated. The private key is kept by the signer and the public key is required by the receiver to decrypt the information regarding the identity of the user during information exchange. The user can store the private key on a computer or hard disk as a token and access it with his/her respective password issued.

During the transfer of information, both the keys are used by the browser and the server to encrypt and decrypt information, to authorise the identity of the user. The public key is disseminated with the encrypted information. The authentication process fails even if one of the keys does not match. Hence the encrypted data cannot be decrypted making it impossible for unauthorised access.

how does digital signature work

Documents required to get DSC

Indian Individuals looking to obtain DSC must submit:

  • ID proof: Passport/Driving license or any Photo Identity issued by the Govt
  • PAN card
  • Address proof: Aadhaar card/Voter ID/Driving license/Registration Certificate
  • Attesting Officer proof

Indian Organizations looking to get DSC must submit:

  • Organizational PAN
  • Partnership deed, if applicable
  • List of Authorised Signatories which could be the list of Directors, Board resolution, etc.
  • Authorised Signatory ID proof
  • GST certificate

For Indian companies, the documents may differ depending upon the type of entity like Partnership, Proprietorship or sole ownership, LLP, etc.

Foreign individuals and organizations looking to obtain DSC must submit:

  • Attested copy of applicant’s passport
  • Attested copy of Visa, if the applicant is out of their native country
  • Attested copy of Resident Permit certificate, if the applicant is in India
  • Attested copy of any Govt-issued address proof

Foreign attestation procedure for DSC:

Authorisation letter must be sought with the respective company seal and signature.

  • Embassy of native country (If applicant is out of native country)
  • Apostilled by native country, after Public Notary (if country is in Hague Convention). For example Austria, Greece, Oman, Australia, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, etc.
  • Consularized by native country, after Public Notary (if country is not in Hague Convention). For example, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, etc.

How to apply for a Digital Signature Certificate? - A detailed process

At Vakilsearch, our professionals will help you get your DSC in just three simple steps:

Step 1: Collect basic details

We will collect basic details like Name, Gender, Address, Nationality, Country, Email Id, Mobile number, and the usage type of DSC you are applying for. It could be for company incorporation, MCA e-filing, IT filing, GST filing, Foreign trade, e-Tenders or personal use. Accordingly, we will guide you in selecting the right class.

Step 2: Submission of supporting documents

All the necessary documents like PAN card, address proof, passport, etc. with relevant attestation will be collected.

Step 3: Documents Validation

Once the payment is made and the information is verified against the PAN card as in the Income Tax portal, we will validate your documents in two ways:

Video recording: You will receive a video link to your registered mobile number and email address, where you need to record your personal information like name, DOB, etc. and send it to us.

SMS: You will then receive an SMS with the DSC application ID and a mobile number to which you need to reply with your DSC application ID, name, mobile number and email ID.

Upon successful verification we will dispatch your Digital Signature Certificate USB token, which is a password-protected physical device containing your digital signature. A USB token also called e-token, dongle or digital signature has a special built-in software that recognises and opens your digital signature.

FAQs on What is a Digital Signature?

Why Vakilsearch

We are authorised providers of Digital Signature Certificates, partnered with some of the prominent and licensed Certifying Authorities in India. Some of the best reasons to choose Vakilsearch for DSC are:

  • Simple and speedy process
  • Delivery of Digital Signature USB tokens that are compliant with FIPS security standards
  • All three classes of DSC provided
  • Digital signature with advanced SHA-256 algorithm as mandated by the Government of India
  • Data confidentiality assured
  • Guidance on accessing and using USB tokens for e-filings

Recent Updates

Digital Signature Global Market Set To Grow At Record Rate!

October 27, 2020

Currently valued at 17.72 billion USD, the global digital signature is set to reach 31.1% Compound annual growth rate (CAGR) by 2027. The main factors driving the increase is the growing dependency on digital signatures to overcome fraud and ensure the security of various documents.

5-Aug-2020: SEBI extends use of DSC for Authentication till Dec 31st

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has issued a circular on extending the use of digital signature certifications (DSC) till 31st December, 2020. DSC is used for authentication/certification of filings/ submissions made under the SEBI Regulations, 2015 to the Stock Exchanges. This relaxation was in view of the COVID-19 disruption.

The Digital Signature Market is Expected to Grow Substantially

9 June 2020: Due to COVID19, more corporations are venturing into the use of digital signatures for verification purposes. For this reason, the digital signing market is expected to grow substantially in the next few years. Digital PoS system developer, IDSign, plans to invest 20 Million USD on this market within India, and another 100 Million USD across other geographies.

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