Govt of India has now allowed the usage of Digital Certificates for all documents which need to be submitted or shared. Under the provisions of the Information Technology Act 2000, if any document needs to be submitted in electronic form, then a Digital Signature Certificate should be present to ensure the security and authenticity of the document.
In fact, Digital Signature Certificates are mandatory for all LLPs/ Companies when it comes to filing documents under the MCA21 e-Governance program.
For some classes of GST registration as well, Digital Signature Certificates are mandatory.
So, what is a Digital Signature Certificate or DSC? How to get a DSC online? What are the benefits of getting a Digital Signature Certificate for small businesses and entrepreneurs?
Keep reading to find out everything you ever wanted to know about DSC.
What is Digital Signature Certificate?
A Digital Signature Certificate or DSC is an electronic code or a key, which is only issued by a designated authority to the authorized person who has the requisite rights and power within an organization. It can be a lawyer, founder, Chairman or any person whom the Board/ Partners have approved to be the designated signatory.
The purpose of a digital signature and digital certificate is to authenticate, validate, and certify the person who uses this certificate and ensure that there are no frauds or miscommunication. Hence, the purpose is the same as an actual, physical signature on an official document.
Public key encryptions are used in the digital signature certificate to ensure the signatures’ safety and integrity.
What Does the Digital Signature Certificate Contain?
The DSC contains vital information about the user:
- Pin Code
- Email address
- Date of issuance of the certificate
- Name of the certifying authority
Note here that only five Service Providers have been approved by the Govt to issue DSC.
Advantages of Digital Signature Certificate
1. Secured Medium For Authenticating Documents
DSCs are safe and secured, and thus, the Govt of India has mandated the usage of such signatures for filing purposes.
The documents having digital signatures cannot be tampered with or altered, and this is one significant advantage of using them. There are timestamps on the documents, which can reveal who and when the documents were tampered with. Thus, if anyone is attempting to do any fraud, digital signatures will promptly help the authorities catch the culprits.
A document with a digital signature certificate authenticates and gives the receiver confidence about its genuineness.
2. Reduces Time, Saves Resources
Gone are the days when official documents were physically signed and then sent to the receiver via mail or courier. With digital signatures, the authorized person is not required to be present physically while signing the documents, and this can help save a lot of time and resources for companies.
3. Fulfills Statutory Requirements
Usage of DSC is mandatory for filing reports, documents, and applications, as per the Ministry of Corporate Affairs rules.
In case of any statutory Audit requirements or to file IT returns, DSC is compulsory. And for getting GST registration, it’s mandatory to have verified the documents using DSC.
Hence, it’s always beneficial to have a DSC with you, since it fulfills so many statutory requirements.
Classes of Digital Signature Certificate
There are three classes of Digital Signature Certificate:
Class 1 Certificates:
Class 1 Digital Signature Certificates are issued to individuals, who are designated signatories at their companies, and the certificate proves that their information is valid and matches the information present in the database of the signature provider.
Class 2 Certificates:
Class 2 Digital Signature Certificates are issued to designated individuals required to e-file any document with the Registrar of Companies (ROC). In case such individuals are required to sign any document filed with the Registrar of Companies manually, then Digital Signature Certificate is mandatory.
Class 3 Certificates:
In case any vendor or company wishes to participate in an online auction, e-Bidding, or online tenders, then, in that case, Class 3 Certificates are used. In fact, it’s mandatory to validate the document via Class 3 Certificates in these three scenarios.
Documents Needed For Digital Signature Certificate
There are mainly 4 documents needed for requesting a Digital Signature Certificate:
- Submitting the Digital Signature Certificate application form, which needs to be filled by the applicant with all the required information
- Address proof of the applicant
- A photo ID proof of the applicant
Digital Signature Certificate Providers
The Controller of Certifying Authority has the power to assign official providers who can issue a Digital Signature Certificate on behalf of the Govt of India.
As per the website of the income tax department, there are only 5 authorized providers for issuing a Digital Signature Certificate Online, who can issue all three classes of digital signatures.
- (n)Code Solutions Ltd., (A division of Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilisers Company Ltd.
- e-Mudhra CA
- National Informatics Centre
- Tata Consultancy Services Ltd.
There are other designated authorities and providers as well, who can provide a DSC, whose full list is available here.
There is no such thing as a free digital signature certificate. The applicants need to pay a service charge for getting a proper DSC, and they are issued with a validity period of one or two years. Once expired, the applicants need to re-issue the DSC and furnish all the updated details.
Do you seek more clarity and information about DSCs?
We at MSMEx can provide you with the information you are seeking. MSMEx is an MSME education and advisory platform, wherein industry experts and mentors provide timely information and expert consultation about any business issue you are facing.
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