No more Class-2 Digital Signature from 2021?

Industry experts laud the efforts by CCA to modernize and tighten the security around DSC issuance process. With Digital India going electronic in almost every modes of communication and documentation, it is vital to keep the DSC issuance process more clean and effective. Once the new guidelines are implemented in 2021, the subscribers will have only one class of Digital Signature to buy in India - which is Class-3. Until the year 2020, the subscribers were confused on which class of digital signature to buy. Now, that confusion is no more as there is only one class of DSC in the market.

It is possible that current Class-2 subscribers need to pay more money in 2021 to obtain a new Digital Signature. While, the Class-2 DSC subscribers may feel the pain of paying bucks, it is a time of joy for Class-3 subscribers. Those contractors who submit e-Tender bids on government portals will be happy with the new guideliness as the Class-3 price is expected to go low from the current levels in 2020.

A Class-2 DSC subscriber who currently pays approx Rs. 800 for Class-2 DSC will be expected to pay a minimum of 50% premium to get Class-3 DSC, if not more.

What is the reason behind new CCA IVG guidelines stopping new Class-2 DSC issuance?

CCA are the regulators in India and will have their valid reasons to consolidate the multiple DSC classes into a few ones. CCA have a larger picture of what's happening in India and are placed better to simplify DSC to be accessible for common people in India.

After December 31st 2020, will the earlier issued Class-2 DSC continue to work?

There is no impact to Class-2 DSC issued on or before December 31st, 2020. Active Class-2 DSC will continue to work until their expiration date.

Will there be any new Class-2 DSC issued in 2021?

No new class-2 DSC will be issued in India from January 1st, 2021 onwards.

Will the price of Class-3 DSC become cheaper in 2021?

It is possible that the price of Class-3 DSC will be cheaper in 2021. Currently in 2020, a Class-3 DSC can cost from Rs. 1,800 for one year validity to Rs. 3,000 for 3 years validity.

The new price will be determined as per market demand and the various certifying authorities like eMudhra or Capricorn. For cheaper price, look into various market resellers that offer competitive price like www.dscsignature.com or www.dscexpress.com

Will all the Class-2 DSC be closed?

All existing Class-2 Digital Signature will continue to be active until expiration. When the DSC is active, they can be used without any problems.

Can a Foreign Individual buy Class-2 DSC in 2021?

As per revised CCA guidelines, all foreign individuals will only be issued Class-3 DSC in 2021. Any foreign applicant holding active Class-2 DSC can continue to use the same till expiry.

As a subscriber, I hold a valid Class-2 DSC. Can I convert existing Class-2 Digital Signature into a Class-3 DSC for the remaining duration?

No - Subscribers cannot convert existing valid and active Digital Signature from one class to another. If the subscriber is holding an active Class-2 DSC, it will continue to remain as Class-2 Digital Signature.

My Class-2 DSC was approved in 2020. I forgot to download the Digital Signature. Can I download the approved Class-2 DSC in January 2021?

Any approved DSC that is not yet downloaded in 2020, will be removed from the Certifying Authority portal in 2021. All subscribers are advised to complete the downloading of Class-2 DSC before the midnight of December 31st, 2020.

Can I use my existing Class-3 DSC in January 2021?

Yes, there is no impact to Class-3 DSC and subscriber will be able to continue to use active Digital Signature.

Do I need to change ePass2003Auto token in 2021?

There is no need to change the current USB crypto token used to store the Digital Signature. ePass2003Auto will work just fine in 2021 as it did in the year 2020.

Can I use encryption key after expiration?

It depends on the purpose. The user cannot encrypt any new document after expiry. However, the encryption key can be used to decrypt a document that was earlier encrypted using same key. There is no expiration to using the key for decryption.

The Certifying Authority will have a safe copy of the encryption key in their escrow facility. A subscriber will be able to retrieve the encryption key at a later date.

Is there any change to the issue of DGFT Digital Signature?

From January 2021, only paperless method will be used to issue DGFT Digtial Signature. Traditional paper based method will cease to exist.

How could a government defense personnel record video when deputed in a remote location without internet connectivity?

The CCA guidelines are very clear in the requirement of compulsory video recording to issue Digital Signature from January 1st, 2021 onwards. Every subscriber must record video during the application. The defense personnel is advised to approach a location with internet connectivity and use smarphone/laptop/desktop computer to record video. CCA is trying to create a future-ready platform in India to issue, govern, and manage Digital Signature Certificates.

Which Certifying Agency is good in issuing DSC? For example, is e-Mudhra DSC better than Capricorn DSC?

DSC is all the same when issued by any Certifying Authority authorised by CCA India. Apart from the difference in price and brand name, the digital signature certificate essentially is the same. A smart subscriber will choose a certifying authority who provides cheaper price and quicker process to download the DSC.

Can the new CCA guidelines be implemented in 2021 after the tax season to minimize impacts?

CCA has been very clear in mandating the new guidelines to be fully implemented by January 1st, 2021. CCA is the sole body to decide and govern the implementation dates of the guidelines. If there is any extension in the dates, CCA will need to communicate to the Certifying Authorities.

Will the Government Class-2 DSC be impacted in 2021?

All types of Class-2 DSC are stopped from new issuance in 2021. Be it for use by a Government organization or individual, there will be no further issuance of new Class-2 DSC after December 31st, 2020.

What will be the new rate of Class-3 DSC for Individuals?

The price is determined on dynamic basis by the market. There is no visibility to the price level after implementing the new CCA IVG guidelines. However, the new Class-3 DSC price for individuals will be expected to be much lower than the current price level in 2020.

As a current partner to eMudhra / Capricorn CA, what happens to my current stock of Class-2 DSC?

The certifying authorities propose to convert existing unused Class-2 DSC stock automatically into Class-3 DSC. However, it will not be a one to one conversion. Each Certifying Authority will determine the ratio of conversion at their own discretion.

For example, if a parter has 100 unused Class-2 DSC stock in hand, do not expect to receive 100 new Class-3 DSC after the conversion. As Class-3 DSC are expensive, the number of converted digital signature stock will be lower than 100.

In the past, these Certifying Authorities used a similar conversion model when converting Class-2 DSC stocks from Traditional method to Paper-less method. Similarly, the Certifying Authorities will strategize a new conversion model for their partners to convert Class-2 stock to Class-3 DSC.

Will the DGFT also require e-KYC in 2021?

Yes, e-KYC is compulsory for every subscriber requesting DGFT Digital Signature.

Do I need to buy another new USB crypto token?

There is no need to change your existing crypto token because of the change in CCA IVG guidelines.

Will there be any new Class-2 Combo DSC issued in 2021?

Class-2 Combo is also impacted by the revised CCA IVG guidelines. No new Class-2 Combo will be issued in 2021, however active Class-2 Combo can be used till expiration.

Will there be any change in the documentation in 2021 for Digital Signature?

The list of required documents remain the same for issuance of Class-3 DSC. There is no change to the documentations that will be verified before issuing new Class-3 Digital Signature.

I currently hold a huge stock of Class-3 DSC purchased at a higher price. With the new price expected to go south, do I expect to make losses?

The Certifying Authorities like eMudhra and Capricorn are aware of the current Class-3 stock levels of every partner. Their strategy is expected to take into account such a scenario and a partner could only hope that they are compensated for such losses if there are. Of course, the Certifying Authorities have ben running promotions with their partners asking them to bulk up the stock levels. It is not fair on the partners who have stocked up to make losses.

Is there one DSC that works for both DGFT and also Government e-Tender portals?

Unfortunately, DGFT have proprietary computer applications that require a different type of Digital Signature. It is not possible to use same DSC to sign documents for DGFT and other Government e-Tender bids.

I have a Class-2 DSC application in progress and pending for Video. Can it be approved on January 2021?

All pending applications for Class-2 DSC will be rejected after December 31st, 2020. Subscribers are requested to hurry up completing the Class-2 DSC process and download the certificate latest by December 31st, 2020.

My Class-2 DSC is approved, but not downloaded yet. Can I download after December 31st, 2020?

All Class-2 DSC that is not downloaded by December 31st, 2020 - will be totally rejected. There will be not available to download from January 1st, 2021 onwards.

Can I get a refund of payment as I could not download the DSC by Dec 31st, 2020?

No refund of the payment is possible for subscribers failing to download the approved Digital Signature by end of 2020.

Can a subscriber apply for new Class-2 DSC until December 31st, 2020?

Yes, it is possible to obtain new Class-2 DSC before the new IVG guidelines are implemented. As a subscriber, it will be a smart decision to complete renewal of Class-2 DSC now, rather than wait till expiry in 2021. Go ahead and renew Class-2 DSC for 3 more years now in December 2020.

For resellers, will there be additional cost in converting Class-2 DSC to Class-3 Digital Signature?

The Certifying Authorities are expected to adopt a standard conversion ratio to convert existing Class-2 stocks to Class-3 DSC. Apart from that, there is no additional charges or conversion cost that is expected to be put on resellers.

Will there be a difference in price between DSC for individuals and organizations?

There are more documents to be verified when issuing DSC for organizations. Generally, the cost of issue Organization DSC is higher than the cost of DSC for individuals. Some resellers may choose to absorb the cost difference and offer same price for all Class-3 DSC.