Difference between Class 2 and Class 3 Digital Signature Certificates


As more transactions are becoming digital nowadays, it is highly essential to know the different types of digital signatures to make your digital transactions more authentic.

Digital Signature is the digital equivalent of the physical or paper-based signature that is issued by an authority. The DSC or the Digital Signature Certificates are just equivalent to the PAN Card, Driver's License etc that uniquely identify a person; the only difference being the fact that the DSCs are issued for the websites. There are different classes of the Digital Signature Certificates, namely – Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 Digital Signatures. The main aim of this post is to differentiate between Class 2 and Class 3 Digital Signature Certificates.

Before we begin with the differentiation, let us have an overview of the different classes of the digital signature certificates for a better understanding.

Different Classes of the Digital Signature Certificates:



  • Class 1 Certificates:


  • They are issued to the private subscribers or individuals.
    This certificate confirms that the username or the alias of the person and his or her Email ID are the unambiguous members of the Certifying Authority Databases.

  • Class 2 Certificates:


  • They are issued for personal usage by an individual as well as to the business personnel.
    The Class 2 Digital Signature certificate confirms that the information provided by the subscriber in the application is not in conflict with the information mentioned in the well-recognized authority databases.

  • Class 3 (3A and 3B) Certificates:


  • These certificates will be issued to the individuals as well as organizations.
    The Class 3 Digital Signature Certificates are high assurance certificates and are primarily intended for the e-commerce applications. These certificates are issued to the individuals only after they report in-person at the office of certifying authorities.

Having had an overview of the different classes, let us move on the differences between the Class 2 and Class 3 digital signature certificates.

Purpose and Usage of the Digital Signature Certificates:


The Class 2 Digital Signature Certificates are used for filing the documents such as Registrar of Companies, VAT, and Income Tax etc.
The Class 3 Digital Signatures are used for e-tendering which is an online conducted procurement process. The Class 3 certificates are used in:

  • Contract Download

  • Tender Evaluation

  • Expression of Interest or Supplier Registration

  • Bid Document Submission


Implied Risk of Failure and Security Concerns:


Class 2 Digital Signatures are used where the risks and consequences of compromise with data are moderate.
Class 3 Digital Signatures are used where the risks and consequences of data compromise or the failure of security services are high.

Where are they involved??


Class 2 Digital Signatures are involved in the substantial monetary value transactions or access to the private information where the odds of malicious access are high.
Class 3 (3A and 3B) Certificates are involved where the high-value transactions are involved. They are also used where the level of fraud risk is very high.
These are some of the differences between the Class 2 and Class 3 digital signature certificates.


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