How to get a digital certificate?

Are you wondering how to get a digital certificate? The digital certificate has become a very useful alternative when it comes to proving our identity for certain procedures. The convenience of being able to use them from home or any other place, to which we add their security, makes them very attractive for citizens.

In this article we will explain how to get the digital certificate step by step, as well as the different uses you can give it. We also tell you how Viafirma’s solutions can help you to optimize your signature processes.

All about the digital certificate

Es un documento electrónico que incluye un conjunto de datos con el fin de identificar a una persona a través de Internet.

Before explaining how to obtain a digital certificate, it is important to fully understand its meaning. The most practical thing to do is to refer to the definition offered by the already well-known eIDAS Regulation of the European Union, which defines it as:

“An electronic statement that links the validation data of a signature to a natural person and confirms at least the name or pseudonym of that person.”

elDAS regulation

Therefore, we could say that it is an electronic document that serves to unequivocally identify a natural person. Without leaving the eIDAS Regulation, we can also find the types of existing certificates:

  • Digital signature certificate: oriented to the identification and electronic signature of natural persons. They guarantee the signer’s identity and the integrity of the signed electronic message. They can be qualified or unqualified depending on compliance with the requirements set forth in the eIDAS.
  • Certificate of seal: for the electronic seal of legal entities. They can also be qualified or unqualified.
  • Web authentication certificate: used to link an Internet domain with the holder of the certificate. Aimed at linking the website (Internet domain) with the natural or legal person holding the certificate.

Main uses

Normally it is thought that the digital certificate is only useful to carry out certain procedures with the Public Administration, such as those related to the Treasury, Social Security, employment services, payment of local and regional taxes… and so on up to an increasingly long list as a result of the advance of e-Government.

Among its most important uses, it is worth mentioning:

  • Electronic signature of documents and contracts.
  • Presentation and liquidation of taxes.
  • Presentation of appeals and claims.
  • Completion of the population and housing census data.
  • Consultation and registration in the municipal census.
  • Consultation of traffic fines.
  • Consultation and procedures for grant applications.

How to get the digital certificate

Once we are clear about what it is and what its uses are, let’s see how to get the digital certificate. We will have to go to a Qualified Trust Service Provider such as the FNMT or Firmaprofesional. eIDAS identifies these trust services as:

  • The creation, verification and validation of electronic signatures, electronic seals or electronic time stamps, certified electronic delivery services and certificates related to these services.
  • Creation, verification and validation of certificates for website authentication.
  • The preservation of electronic signatures, seals or certificates related to these services.

The Qualified Trust Service Providers can be found in the list offered by the European Commission on its website, a list in which Viafirma appears as a qualified time-stamping service provider.

Manager signing a document with his digital certificate

Any Spanish or foreign citizen who has an official identification document can obtain it through a Certification Service Provider. This identity document, which must be valid, can be:

  • DNI (National Identity Card).
  • NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjero) for foreign citizens.
  • Driver’s license.
  • Spanish passport.

How to check its validity

In addition to knowing how to get the digital certificate, it is also very important to know how to check its validity. Digital certificates must be valid, either because their expiration date has passed or for other reasons. These are the states in which it can be found:

  • Valid.
  • Revoked: its validity has been cancelled before the expiration date. It is very frequent when its security has been exposed.
  • Suspended: the certificate will not be valid for a period of time.
  • Not recognized.

To check the validity status of this electronic document, in case you have done it through the issuer FNMT, you can do it from its website or also go to the certificate revocation lists (CLR) or use the OCSP (Online Certificate Status Protocol) verification process.

Viafirma Suite: Agile solutions that support any digital certificate

We have previously mentioned that digital certificates are useful for the identification and electronic signature of documents and contracts.

Viafirma has a rich variety of solutions to sign digital documents in an agile and secure way, allowing to require the signer the use of a digital certificate and the incorporation of some electronic evidence (image, audio, video) that ratifies the whole process.

Another alternative of great interest is Viafirma Fortress, our centralized signature solution in the cloud, which is responsible for the storage, management and use policies of certificates thanks to cloud technology; enabling the signature from any device, anytime, anywhere. The user accesses his certificate when he wants to sign a document digitally, without the need to install anything on the device from which the process is carried out.

As we have seen, they are a very practical, versatile and secure tool for a wide variety of online procedures, both public and private. Therefore, from Viafirma we have developed solutions that allow you to get the most out of it.


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