In this digital era of the 21st century, technological advancements are taking place every other second. There is involvement of technology in almost everything we do, be it education, health, or business. Digital Signature is one such technology, using which we can digitally sign a document. In simple words, it is a modern alternative to the traditional way of signing documents with a pen. In this blog, we will discuss the different aspects of digital signatures with a main focus on how to use digital signatures.

Before knowing how to use a digital signature, first, let us understand what is a digital signature.

What is Digital Signature?

Digital Signature is a type of electronic signature, that is considered equivalent to a handwritten signature. It can be used to digitally authenticate documents, emails, messages, software, etc. In addition, a digital signature is generally in the form of a coded message and associates the document with its signer in a secured form.

In simple words, it helps in authenticating the identity of a person signing the document and ensures that the information provided by the signer is not altered. Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) is a universal standard format that provides security to digital signatures. It involves the generation of two keys: Public Key and Private Key.

A digital signature saves time and cost as the person whose digital signature is to be affixed doesn’t need to be present personally and the process can be completed in very less time. 

What is DSC?

The full form of DSC is Digital Signature Certificate.

A Digital Signature Certificate holds the information of the document signer such as name, address, email address, etc. It is used to affix the digital signature of a person in a document. Moreover, it is issued by certifying authority. 

The certificate issued by the Certifying Authority is stored in a USB token which is like a pen drive. You can use this token (pen drive) for signing a document.  

Characteristics of Digital Signature

The following are the characteristics of a digital signature.


With respect to a document, we primarily verify the content of the document whether it is correct or not. But it is also necessary to verify the identity of the person sending the document. A digital signature confirms the identity of the sender. Therefore, it helps in authentication. 


Along with the identity of the sender, it is also essential to check whether the message or the document that is received conveys the exact information as intended by the sender or not. A digital signature ensures that the data transmitted through digital mode is not altered. Therefore, a digital signature ensures the integrity of data as well. 


A digital signature eliminates the scope of repudiation. It means that if the digital signature of a person is affixed to a document, that person cannot deny the contents of the document or he can not claim that he has not signed the document.

Is Electronic Signature Different from Digital Signature?

Yes, electronic signatures and digital signatures are different.

An electronic signature is nothing but an electronic form of a handwritten signature. In addition, it is less secure as compared to a digital signature. However, the scope of electronic signatures is very wide and it includes digital signatures. Following are examples of electronic signature and digital signature – 

Electronic Signature 

Digital Signature 

Classes of Digital Signature Certificate

The following are the three classes of Digital Signature Certificates issued by Certifying Authorities.

Class 1 Digital Signature Certificate

Class 1 DSC is not used for the validation of a document. It is generally issued to individuals or private subscribers and used for verification purposes such as Email ID verification, User ID verification, etc. Therefore, in most cases, Class 1 DSC is not used for business purposes.

Class 2 Digital Signature Certificate

Class 2 DSCs are used to verify the identity of a person. Certifying authorities issue Class 2 DSC to both individuals and organizations. It is primarily used in the electronic filing of documents with government departments such as the Income Tax Department, GST Department, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, etc.

Please note that w.e.f. 1st January 2021, Certifying Authorities have stopped issuing and renewing Class 2 DSCs following the guidelines issued by the Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA). However, Class 2 DSCs issued before that date shall remain valid till their expiry.

Class 3 Digital Signature Certificate

There is the highest level of security in Class 3 DSC. It is also issued to both individuals and organizations. In addition, it is used to verify the identity of a person during the electronic filing of documents with government departments such as the Income Tax Department, GST Department, Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA), etc.

Moreover, Class 3 DSCs are also used for other purposes such as participation in e-tender, LLP registration, obtaining IEC, etc.

Therefore, w.e.f. 1st January 2021, only Class 3 DSCs are issued for business purposes.

Types of Digital Signature Certificates

The following are the three types of Digital Signature Certificates –

Signature Only

As the name suggests, this type of DSC can be used only for signing documents. Generally, it is used to sign Income Tax Returns, MCA Forms, GST Returns, etc. Further, you can use it for signing other PDF documents as well.

Encryption Only

This type of DSC can be used for encryption only. Generally, it is used by companies to encrypt and upload tender documents. It is suitable for protecting confidential information or documents.

Signature and Encryption Both

This type of DSC can be used for signing as well as encrypting documents. Therefore, it is suitable for those persons who need to sign forms and returns and encrypt documents on a regular basis. 

How to Obtain a Digital Signature Certificate?

Before proceeding further and learning how to use digital signature, let us first understand how to obtain a DSC. 

Certifying Authorities (regulated by the Controller of Certifying Authorities) issue Digital Signature Certificates in India.

The process to apply for obtaining DSC is completely online.  Below are steps that shall be followed for obtaining DSC –

  1. Submission of application along with Proof of Identity, Proof of Address, and fees
  2. Video Verification of applicant (the applicant shall show his original Aadhar Card and PAN Card)
  3. Approval of application and issue of DSC

Moreover, a person can obtain more than one DSC. 

What is the Cost of Obtaining a DSC?

The cost of obtaining a DSC differs from one Certifying Authority to another. Also, it depends on the validity period and additional costs like taxes. 

Connect with our experts and know the exact cost of obtaining DSC!

How to Use Digital Signature Pen Drive?

Now that we know what is a digital signature and how to obtain DSC, let us have a look at how to use a digital signature certificate/ pen drive. To affix a digital signature to a document, follow the below steps:

Uses of Digital Signature Certificate

Generally, DSC is used for the below-mentioned purposes –

  •  Filing of MCA forms
  •  Income Tax Return filing
  •  GST Returns filing
  • Uploading and Encryption of  Tender Documents
  •  Incorporation of LLP
  •  Application for GST Registration
  •  Trademark Registration etc.

Also, it is one of the primary steps in the incorporation of a company to obtain a DSC of directors.

Read more: Private Limited Company Registration Online in India

Validity and Renewal of Digital Signature Certificate

A DSC comes with a validity of 1 year, 2 years, and 3 years. After the expiry, one needs to apply for renewal of DSC. However, it is always advisable to apply for renewal of DSC before its expiry for smooth conduct of business.


Digital Signature is a very beneficial technology, especially for businesses. It helps in verifying a document on behalf of another person even without his physical presence. In addition, it helps in reducing paperwork. However, you should be careful and should hand over the DSC to a trustworthy person only otherwise it can lead to serious consequences. Also, that person needs to know how to use digital signature. 

We at Registration Arena are dedicated to assisting you in obtaining and renewing your DSC. Our experts can also help you with the registration of your company, trademark, etc., and complying with regulatory requirements.

For more information, Call/ WhatsApp us at +918600544411 or write to us at