As per the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, 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. Physical documents are signed manually, similarly, electronic documents, for example e-forms are required to be signed digitally using a Digital Signature Certificate.
Any form filed for online company registration in India shall be submitted only after affixing the Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) of the Applicant.
A DSC application is made to a licensed Certifying Authority (CA). A 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.
- An application is made to a Certifying Authority (CA) by submitting copies of identity proof such as Aadhar card and PAN card in case of Indian resident and Passport and residence certificate in case of foreign resident along with details such as personal mobile number and email.
- Upon submission, the applicant receives a video verification link and an email verification link on the registered email. The applicant must record the video with original copies of identity proof for successful video verification and must enter accurate One Time Password (OTP) received on email and mobile phone for successful email verification.
- When the verification is completed by the CA, the applicant can download the certificated in a DSC token which looks like a pen drive.
A Class 3 DSC is a mandatory requirement for signing online form submissions with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. As such, all Directors and shareholders of a Private Limited Company/ One Person Company, Partners of a Limited Liability Partnership and sole proprietors must possess a valid DSC. It can also be used to submit Income Tax Returns and GST returns.
A DSC can have a validity period of 1-3 years.