Digital Signature Certificate for an e-Invoice

Digital Signature Certificate

How to get Digital Signature Certificate (DSC)

Digital Signature Certificate (DSC) issued by a licensed Certifying Authority (CA). Certifying Authority means a person who has been granted a license to print a digital signature certificate under Section 24 of the Indian IT Act 2000.

An Applicant can directly approach Certifying Authorities (CAs) with original supporting documents. Aadhar eKYC or Self-attested copies will be acceptable to avail of this.

What is Digital Signature Certificate (DSC)?

DSC Stands for Digital Signature Certificates; these Digital Signature Certificates (DSC) are equivalent to physical or paper certificates. Suppose we daily use driving licenses, passports, or membership cards as physical certificates. We use those certificates as proof of personal identity for specific purposes. A digital certificate can be submitted electronically to prove one’s identity, access data or services on the Internet, or sign specific documents digitally.

Why do we need Digital Signature Certificate (DSC)?

Physical copies are signed manually. Likewise, electronic documents, for example, e-forms, must be signed digitally using a Digital Signature Certificate.

Types of Digital Signature Certificate (DSC)

there are two types of Digital Signature Certificates are:

Class 1:

This Digital Signature Certificate helps you verify a person’s identity is verified against a trusted, pre-verified database.

Class 2:

This Digital Signature Certificate is the highest level where the person needs to present themself in front of a Registration Authority (RA) and prove their identity.

Use of DSC before e-invoicing system

The Central Goods and Services Tax CGST Rules require all invoices, including credit and debit notes, to be physically signed by an authorized representative of the entity issuing the invoice. However, such a person may also place his digital signature if affixed as per the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Use of DSC under the e-invoicing system

The e-invoicing system requires a supplier to upload the JSON of the invoice onto the Invoice Registration Portal (IRP). The JSON must follow specific mandatory and optional parameters while reporting the invoices. 

The digital signature is one of the optional parameters in this case. The IRP will generate the hash (Invoice Registration Number or IRN) and then digitally sign the JSON if it is deemed valid, using its private key. If the signed JSON is tampered with, the e-invoice will become invalid, and the digital signature will fail.

Once the e-invoice is signed by the IRP, it will be a valid e-invoice to be used by the seller for his business transactions. The IRP will also forward this digitally signed e-invoice to the GSTN and the e-way bill system.

Requirement and applicability of DSC

As mentioned earlier, the JSON of the invoice is required to be uploaded onto the IRP, with the digital signature being one of the optional parameters. Once the IRP validates the invoice, it will digitally sign the JSON and generate a QR code. 

When the supplier provides a printed copy of his invoice to the recipient, he will have to disclose the QR Code, his digital signature and the Invoice Reference Number (IRN) generated by the IRP.

The disclosure of the QR code and the digital signature of the supplier are not interchangeable but have to be disclosed separately.

How to attach a digital signature to an e-invoice?

Ensure that the software for reading the DSC is present and that the ’emSigner’ tool from the GST portal is installed and running. 

Step 1:

There are various ways of generating an invoice in the prescribed JSON format – for example, offline utilities, mobile apps, etc. After doing so, we must log in to the IRP and attach the JSON.

Step 2:

Click on the button ‘Verify using DSC’. A dialogue box will open up, showing the various digital signatures available.

Step 3:

Select the appropriate Digital Signature and click on ‘Sign’. Ensure that the DSC belongs to the Authorized Signatory registered on the GST portal. The utility may prompt you to enter the password for the DSC.

Step 4:

A success message will appear, indicating that attaching the Digital Signature Certificate was successful. Press OK/proceed.

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