WHAT IS A DIGITAL CERTIFICATE IN SPAIN?
The digital certificate or electronic certificate is a digital document (file) signed electronically by a certification service provider, which guarantees the link or relationship between the identity of a person or entity and its public key, therefore, it is a secure form of online identification.
The file consists of a data structure containing information about the entity, such as a public key, identity, set of privileges, etc., and it is created in such a way that the structure cannot be changed without the change being detected.
The file also contains other data such as: the name of the certified entity, a serial number, expiry date, a copy of the certificate holder’s public key (which is used to verify his digital signature), as well as the digital signature of the authority issuing the certificate itself.
The digital certificate is a file that can be installed on different devices and can be used simultaneously. Once the file is correctly installed with its password validated, the holder will be able to identify himself/herself truthfully on any website of any public administration offices.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN FEATURES OF A DIGITAL CERTIFICATE?
In our opinion, these are the most important characteristics which define a digital certificate:
– It Identifies the person who is signing any of the procedures to be carried out.
– At the same time as it identifies the person, the digital certificate can capture biometric elements associated with it.
– Each digital certificate is unique.
– It proves the truthfulness of the document/procedure being signed.
– It guarantees the impossibility of embedding the signature in other documents.
For all these reasons, we can deduce that the digital certificate is the most secure and efficient way of identifying ourselves and accessing any procedure we wish to initiate or consult with the public administrations. It is also useful for receiving notifications/letters from the public administration offices.
IN WHICH CASES DO I NEED THE SPANISH DIGITAL CERTIFICATE?
In Spain, a digital certificate is compulsory for both the self-employed and Companies in order to communicate with the public administration offices. They are no longer allowed to submit tax forms or send/receive any correspondence on paper. Therefore, in these cases, it is absolutely essential to have a valid digital certificate.
For the rest of the population, the digital certificate is not compulsory, but it is highly recommended and useful in order to carry out procedures with the public administration offices without having to request an appointment or go to the offices in person. The main advantage of having a digital certificate, even though it is not compulsory, is that it will save time and money, allowing us to carry out any administrative procedure over the Internet, and we can also choose the time and place according to our convenience.
The recent situation caused by Covid 19 has made clear the need and convenience of digital certificates to identify oneself when, for various reasons, it is not possible to do so in person. The State of Alarm initiated in March 2020 due to the Covid 19 pandemic meant that millions of citizens were unable to leave their homes for many months, except for essential activities. Even so, citizens had to continue with fiscal and social obligations that required their identification, at which point digital certificates played a crucial role.
It is important to make clear that this electronic signature has the same legal validity as any other document that is signed on paper in person. This is why, once the digital certificate has been obtained, it must be stored with all the necessary security measures to allow its controlled use.
WHAT TYPES OF DIGITAL CERTIFICATES ARE THERE?
In Spain, not all digital certificates are the same. Below, we are going to detail the 4 digital certificates that are available at the moment:
– Natural person. The personal digital certificate can be obtained for individuals over 18 years old and it is valid for 4 years.
– Representatives of companies with a sole or joint administrator. Period of validity: 2 years.
– Representatives of companies without a sole or joint administrator. Period of validity: 2 years.
– Representative of entities without legal personality. Period of validity: 2 years.
Depending on the certificate to be obtained, the process may vary, and it may even be necessary to obtain other certificates to evaluate and verify the capacity and validity of the representation of the interested party.
WHICH DOCUMENTS CAN BE SIGNED WITH A DIGITAL CERTIFICATE IN SPAIN?
The list of documents that can be signed with a digital certificate is endless, however, below are those that are most relevant and useful in everyday life:
– Tax filing and settlement. As mentioned above, companies and the self-employed are obliged to communicate with the Administration electronically.
– Presentation of appeals and claims. Any notification, appeal or claim that you wish to file with the Administration can be done electronically.
– Completion of the population and housing census data. Nowadays, practically all Town Councils in Spain have an electronic office through which, using a digital certificate, all procedures related to the census can be carried out.
– Consultation and registration in the municipal census. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, you can register or change your details using a digital certificate.
– Consultation of traffic fines and driving licence points. In the vast majority of cases, taxpayers, for one reason or another, do not receive their traffic fines, which means that they are published in the BOE, without the driver being aware of the fine. On many occasions, and given the lack of knowledge of the fine, the administration proceeds to the seizure of bank accounts or property in order to collect the traffic fines. An effective way to avoid this situation is to register to receive traffic notifications electronically.
– Consultation and procedures for applying for subsidies and grants.
– Consultation of polling station assignments.
– Reported actions.
– Electronic signature of official documents and forms.
– Access to notifications from all official bodies.
We will make the process short and easy!