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How to apply for a DSC?

Government initiatives like Digital India and MCA21 have advanced the ease of doing business in India by enabling businesses to file all necessary documents and applications including that for business registration and incorporation. However, none of these would have been possible without a secure digital signature for the applicants.
How To Apply For A Dsc

Table of Contents

What Is Digital Signature Certificate?

A Digital Signature Certificate is the electronic and encrypted form of signature used to sign or attest documents and applications available or uploaded in the digital format. Its primary purpose is to ensure the authenticity of the documents it is used to sign.
The DSC is a digital service under the MCA21 program of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, which aims at digitising all services offered by it. Earlier, both Class II and Class III certificates were permitted for all e-filings on the MCA portal. However, currently, the usage is restricted to Class III certificates only.

What Is A Certifying Authority?

Certifying authorities or CAs are licensed authorities to issue Digital Signature Certificates to applicants. They are granted licenses by the Controller of Certifying Authorities (Ministry of Information and Technology) under Section 24 of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
The Certifying Authorities across India are listed below:
  • National Informatics Center
  • Institute of Development and Research of Banking Technology
  • Sify Communication Limited
  • Code Solutions CA
  • e-MUDRA
  • Center for Development of Advanced Computing
  • National Security Depository Limited
  • Capricorn Identity Services Private Limited
  • Pentagon Sign Securities Private Limited
  • IDSign
  • Verasys 
  • XtraTrust

What are the classes of digital signature certificates?

  • Class I: They ensure the authenticity of a document, based on the verification of the contact details (e-mail address, and mobile number) of the applicant. The verification is not very secure and hence Class I certificates are hardly used in signing documents, application forms, and other important purposes. The Class 1 certificate is not even applicable in a court of law. 
  • Class II: They ensure the authenticity of documents based on the verification of details from a pre-verified reliable database, probably a government database. The verification is more secure compared to Class I but less secure compared to Class III certificates.
  • Class III: These ensure the highest level of authenticity of documents as applicants are required to produce themselves before the Registration authorities along with their application forms and the supporting documents to prove their identities.

Where Can Digital Signature Certificates be used?

Class III certificates are the most secure class of digital signature and hence are used for important purposes like filing e-tenders, e-procurement, registration of Companies, filing custom and excise returns with the DGFT, filing GST returns, income tax returns, tax, PF, ESIC, Professional tax registrations, and registration under the Shops and Establishment Act, wherever applicable. All e-services on the MCA portal can be availed using the Class III Digital signature certificate only.
Class I and Class II certificates are usually used for less significant purposes like being issued to the employees of banks and financial institutions for providing digital services to their customers.

What are the Benefits of acquiring a DSC?

A digital signature has several advantages over physical signatures, some of which are listed below:
  • Saving time and money: Documents are uploaded digitally and signed digitally. The lack of paperwork saves time, money, and efforts of both the applicant and the authority.
  • Enhanced Security: These signatures is encoded and is thus, difficult to forge, as compared to a physical signature which is easily forgeable. 
  • No compromise on the process of verification: The process of verification, especially for Class II and Class III certificates is quite rigorous. The verification in the former case is based on a pre-verified database, while in the latter case, the applicant is required to produce himself physically with his original documents to the registration authorities. Without compromising on the procedure for identity and document verification of the applicant, the MCA has restricted the use of Class III certificates to the avail of all its e-services.
  • Convenient for applicants and the authorities alike: These signatures enable users to fill applications and submit documents online, from the comfort of their homes, saving their time, money, and effort. Thus, such digital signatures is increasingly being preferred by applicants and authorities alike.

What is the Procedure to Apply for DSC?

Digital Signature Certificates can be applied using Aadhaar-based and PAN-based online application forms available on the official websites of the certifying authorities. The Aadhar-based application does not require any physical documents to be uploaded as proofs since all the details of the applicant are already verified in the Aadhar database. To confirm the contact details of the applicant, an OTP-based verification.
However, the PAN-based application requires the applicant’s PAN card and address proof to be scanned and uploaded, for the verification of the identity of the applicant. The contact details of the applicant are, however, verified using one-time passwords.
If the applicant is a foreigner, a passport is required to be submitted as an additional document with either application.
After the documents and the application are submitted, a link is sent to the e-mail address of the applicant. The applicant is required to shoot and upload his video on the landing page, to be verified by the certifying authority. Once verified, the DSC is received at the e-mail address of the applicant. It can be downloaded and stored in a password-protected token.
Details that need to be filled in the application form:
  • Name of the applicant
  • Category of the applicant (Individual/organization)
  • Contact details of the applicant (mobile number and e-mail address)
  • Address of the applicant 
  • Utility
  • Class 
  • Validity period
  • Certificate type (Signed/Signed+encryption key)

Cost Of Applying For DSC

The cost of acquiring a DSC depends on its validity period, class, and the certifying authority issuing it. However, the usual cost across India may range from Rs.8000 to Rs.13000. In case you apply for an encryption key as well, you will have to pay an additional cost.

How Can SetIndiaBiz Help?

SetIndiaBiz has been authorised by Certifying Authorities VSign and e-MUDRA to issue DSCs at extremely economical costs. We issue the e-signature certificates to our Indian, NRI, and foreign clients at costs ranging from Rs.1000 to Rs.4000, based on the period of validity of the DSC applied for. You may avail of our services by filling out the application form on our official website.

About Setindiabiz

Setindiabiz is an organized team of experienced CA, CS, & Lawyers, duly supported by a pool of trained accountants & paralegal staff that provides quality & affordable compliance services to startups & small businesses in India. The views, statements and recommendations expressed in this article or post are only for the sole objective of providing information, and it does not constitute professional advice or recommendation of the company. Neither the author nor the company or its affiliates accepts any liability for any loss or damage arising from any information in this article or any actions taken in reliance thereon.
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