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About the CSR

The Certificate Signing Request (CSR) is a small, encrypted text file. The CSR contains all the necessary information needed by a Certificate Authority (CA), such as GeoTrust, to generate and issue a new SSL certificate. Simply put, the CSR is the first and most important step in applying for an SSL certificate. You can't get one without it.

Below is an example of what your CSR will look like. This is a example only and cannot be used to generate your SSL certificate.

-----BEGIN CERTIFICATE REQUEST----- MIIB3zCCAUgCAQAwgZ4xCzAJBgNVBAYTAlVTMRAwDgYDVQQIEwdHZW9yZ2lhMRAw DgYDVQQHEwdBdGxhbnRhMREwDwYDVQQKEwhHZW9DZXJ0czEaMBgGA1UECxMRSW5l cm5ldCBNYXJrZXRpbmcxGTAXBgNVBAMTEHd3dy5nZW9jZXJ0cy5jb20xITAfBgkq hkiG9w0BCQEWEmFkbWluQGdlb2NlcnRzLmNvbTCBnzANBgkqhkiG9w0BAQEFAAOB jQAwgYkCgYEA5KOi+RnRzBuBQeFYjrwZg1sfT7zr4L8j0Khuoj621x+lGBmFC76c kGclUIQBmuyp9T9NrNqAjGtEmgdFr6cWLJtgXgi+BaZDLX9BMYF49NuTggNoEUMX crQRAENHb2YthG2SEcF5p98RNcDPzWOA3a4AMvgkxDlDGYUhbcQhnt0CAwEAAaAA MA0GCSqGSIb3DQEBBAUAA4GBAIapt6Tw0BTYUwEAX0/oKvaaN/ghErR85jdW7xOD b1hL0yNfb495A7e/IQyBEP5a/v+QUOtiblS4geiPhH9etAI+DSQmctjbf6dMGJql gCXGwlsTbjPOSmNT+/X2Uvf1BlplwqAMDghEuFHsjshlypz1NEg94ri2K9N1VrBs
+iAv
-----END CERTIFICATE REQUEST-----

The CSR is typically generated by the web server software on the server where your site is hosted. In most cases the CSR can be generated by you if you have access to your server via web interface control panel or command-line. How you generate the CSR depends on the brand of web server software your site is hosted on. The most popular are Apache and Windows IIS. We have a list of CSR how-to's for many popular web servers. In other cases your hosting provider may need to help you. This is a very common request for hosting companies and they should be willing to generate a CSR for you or point you in the right direction to do it yourself.

When the Web Server generates the CSR it is actually generating a Private and Public Key pair. The private key is kept secret and the public key is bundled into the CSR. The CSR is digitally signed by the private key which proves to the CA that the Web Server has possession of the private key (called proof of possession). Your site's domain name, your business/organization's legal name, city, state, and country are also part of the CSR.

You will be asked for several pieces of info which will be used by GeoTrust to create your new SSL certificate. These fields include the Common Name (aka domain, FQDN), organization, country, key bit length, etc. Use the CSR Legend in the right-hand column of this page to guide you when asked for this information. The following characters should not be used when typing in your CSR input: < > ~ ! @ # $ % ^ / \ ( ) ? , &

Additional Resources:

How-to generate a CSR for popular web servers.

Learn more about the CSR at Wikipedia.

CSR Legend

When generating your CSR you will be asked to input a few pieces of info. Below are some common fields with descriptions and examples.

Common Name (CN)

The fully-qualified-domain name for your certificate. Examples include...

  • www.domain.com
  • owa.domain.net
  • secure.domain.ca
  • *.domain.com (for wildcard SSL)

Organization (O)

The exact legal name of your organization. Do not abbreviate your organization's name. Example: Metro Realty LLC or Flowers by Jenny

Organizational Unit (OU)

The section or division of the organization. Example: Sales, Support, Customer Service

City or Locality (L)

The city where your organization is legally located. Cannot be abbreviated. Example: Atlanta

State (S) or Province

The state or province where your organization is legally located. Cannot be abbreviated.. Example: Georgia

Country (C)

The two-letter ISO Country Code abbreviation for your country. Example: US, CA, GB (must be two-letters)

Email

Any email address. This field is arbitrary but must be filled in. GeoTrust will not use this email address to process your order. Example: user@example.com

Key Bit Length

The key bit length has to do with the initial key exchange, not the encryption strength of your certificate. GeoTrust recommends a key bit length of 2048.

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