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How to use the electronic signature in Spain with a digital certificate

Are you interested in using your own electronic signature to carry out procedures more quickly and easily? One of the ways to get it is by means of a digital certificate. Learn with this guide how to use the electronic signature with a digital certificate. We explain how to get your certificate so that you can enjoy all the advantages of the digital signature, using it easily and securely.

Before we start, do you know the role of the digital certificate in the functioning of the electronic signature?

With this guide you will learn how to use the electronic signature by means of the digital certificate. Therefore, the first thing to do is to differentiate between the two concepts. To do so, we recommend you to read our article, Differences between digital certificate and digital signature.

As additional information, we have the definition of a digital certificate from the Royal Mint’s Electronic Headquarters (also known as a Citizen’s or User’s Certificate):

“A digital document containing your identification data. It will allow you to identify yourself on the Internet and exchange information with other people and organizations with the guarantee that only you and your interlocutor can access it”.

Thanks to this certificate, countless bureaucratic procedures can be carried out securely and from the comfort of your home, both with the Public Administration and with other private entities.

¿En qué tipo de gestiones te puede ayudar el certificado digital a agilizar los procesos?

Here are some examples:

  • 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.
  • Consultation of polling station assignment.
  • Reported actions.
  • Electronic signature of documents and forms.
  • Signing of contracts.

To digitally sign documents, there are different types of signatures according to the degree of security required and specific needs. The digital certificate is very useful to achieve an advanced digital signature, as defined by the European Regulation eIDAS.

Although it is the best known, the Fábrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre (FNMT) is not the only organization to which we can turn to receive a digital certificate. In Spain, the official list of qualified trusted electronic service providers can be consulted on the portal of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation.

Another big question that is often asked, who can obtain a digital certificate? It is available to any Spanish citizen or foreigner, adult or emancipated minor in possession of their DNI, NIE, driving license or passport.

The validity period of this certificate is four years. Once this time has elapsed, you have to go through the application process again.

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Cómo usar la firma electrónica en España

How to use the electronic signature with digital certificate, step by step

¿Quieres saber cómo usar la firma electrónica con tu certificado digital? ¡Sigue leyendo! Para ello, por supuesto, necesitas primero contar con un certificado digital. 

Step 1: Pre-configuration

To obtain the FNMT digital certificate, there are two different processes, which have to do with the way to identify oneself:

  • Una de ellas requiere tu desplazamiento a una oficina de registro.
  • La otra exige tu identificación mediante el DNI electrónico (es necesario instalar el software criptográfico y los certificados raíces).

Until recently, the browsers supported for this process were only Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, preferably the latest version. This page explains the steps to follow to configure them correctly and even presents a configurator that performs this process automatically.

Since a few months ago, the FNMT has published a tool that generates keys for any of the main browsers on Windows 10, macOS and Linux to be valid when requesting and managing a digital certificate.

Once the browser is correctly configured, you fill in the certificate request with the user’s personal data (ID card, full name and email). Immediately, you will receive an email with a request number that is associated with your ID card.

Step 2: Proof of identity

At this point is when you must verify your identity. It can be in person at a registry office, or remotely with your electronic DNI.

Throughout Spain, there are thousands of offices available for this accreditation, including Social Security offices and AEAT offices and administrations. With this tool you can find the nearest point for your convenience.

To complete the accreditation, all you have to do is bring the application code you received in the email together with your identification document. This will confirm your identity.

In the case of having an electronic ID, it is not necessary to go to any office. The accreditation is done from the comfort of your home.

It is important that, from the beginning of this process (receiving the request code), until the end (installing the certificate), neither the browser nor the operating system of the computer on which you have done it receive any changes or updates.

Step 3: Download and installation

When you have accredited your identity, you will receive an email with a link to download and install the digital certificate. This must be done on the same computer and with the same browser where you started the procedure. Be careful! The download has a limited time.

It is recommended that, once you have finished and have the digital certificate downloaded and installed, you make a backup copy on an external storage device (the file is password protected) or in the cloud.

This way, if something happens to the host computer, the certificate is safe and there is no need to repeat the accreditation process.

After following these simple steps, you already have in your possession the digital certificate and can make use of the electronic signature.

Step 4: You now know how to use the electronic signature with your digital certificate

The use of electronic signatures saves time for citizens, who previously had to wait for hours in line to complete a procedure. It also has other advantages, such as cybersecurity and legal confidence.

The electronic signature not only has its advantages in the citizen’s relationship with the Administration, but also in their own private procedures and for companies. Do you already know how to use the electronic signature with digital certificate?

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Conoce cómo usar la firma electrónica para agilizar tus trámites

Viafirma, tu solución de firma electrónica

Viafirma offers specific solutions to make use of the digital signature, taking advantage of all its qualities. In the case of the electronic signature with certificate, you can demand its use when you define the signature policy of a document.

In addition, we provide you with a solution for the secure storage and management of digital certificates in the cloud. Thus bringing a large dose of mobility to document management.

Are you now ready to take full advantage of it?

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