Free SSL Certificates for Websites/Web Servers

Digital certs for a secured site with encrypted connections via https

Free SSL Certificates for Websites/Web Servers

The sites listed on this page provide free digital SSL certificates that you can use for your site.

SSL certificates, or Secure Socket Layer certificates, are used by websites for https connections. When someone connects to a site via https, a valid SSL cert shows at least a couple of things about the connection: the certifying authority (the place issuing the SSL certificate) affirms that the site is what it claims to be in the certificate, and that the connection is encrypted using some form of encryption.

Observe carefully what I just said: the certificate does not prove that the site is not a scam: it merely means that if you connect to, the certifying authority confirms that you have indeed connected to, and not some other site that has intercepted your connection and is pretending to be It may also confirm that the domain is owned by the person named in the certificate. It doesn't mean that is owned by an honest person or even the same person/company you imagine is the owner. Neither does it mean that the encryption is any good. In fact, if your certifying authority is unreliable, it really doesn't mean anything at all; everything depends on the certifying authority.

Note that in times of old, some of the free certification authorities were not recognised as valid certificate authorities by web browsers. (I'm not 100% sure what the situation is like today.) In general, this means that when your visitors connect to your site via HTTPS, they may get a dialog box telling them that the site is not secure, and asking them whether to recognise the certificate or not. This will definitely not instill any confidence in your site, so if you are selling a product or service on your site, you may be better off getting a certificate from a known Certification Authority like GoDaddy

You should also read the fine print for each of the certification authorities below as well -- some of them issue the certificates for free, but require you to pay a fee so that they can validate your ownership of your domain. And they validate very often. (So they may not be really free after all -- calculate the total cost per year before you blindly sign up with them. It may be cheaper and less of a hassle, in the end, to pay for an SSL cert from one of those known certificate authorities I mentioned above, where you have a single up-front price.)

Incidentally, in the past, your domain name (and you must have one) needed to have its own dedicated IP address (which many commercial web hosts provide anyway). This does not appear to be a requirement with the modern web browsers any more.

In addition, you may also be interested in my tutorial on How to Move Your Website to SSL (ie, Convert from HTTP to HTTPS).

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Free SSL Certificates for Websites/Web Servers

Let's Encrypt

Let's Encrypt is a certificate authority that issues unlimited free certificates for your websites. At present, though, the default method they provide for you to get certs is by running their program on your web server with root privileges (ie, with administrator's access), which probably makes it a bit hard for the average webmaster to get started since he/she is unlikely to have such access. The certs expire every 90 days, but renewal is free and can be done automatically via a script. For those wondering, I have indicated on my shared web hosts list which one supports Let's Encrypt certificates.


This organisation allows you to create certificates, including wildcard certificates (which means it is valid for any subdomain of your domain), to protect your connections to your websites or your email via POP3, SMTP and IMAP. You can create certs with any encryption strength you wish.

StartCom / StartSSL

[Update (27 September 2016): it looks like Mozilla, makers of the Firefox browser, have a long list of issues with WoSign, the company that owns StartSSL, and are going to distrust both WoSign's and StartCom's certificates. Update (31 October 2016): Google, makers of the Chrome browser, are also going to distrust WoSign's and StartCom's certificates. Update (8 August 2017): Microsoft will remove WoSign and StartCom certificates in Windows 10 after September 2017.] This company provides free digital certificates so that you can create an SSL secured site with encryption. You are allowed as many certificates as you wish. You will need to provide your personal details. This company charges for some of their validations although I'm not sure if these charges apply to the free certs. Like all things on the Internet, you should probably read their documentation and terms and conditions before committing to the certificate.

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