iOS Distribution Certificate 101

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There are two main types of signing certificates to take note when developing apps for Apple App Store: development certificates and distribution certificates. In this article, we’ll focus on the latter. An iOS distribution certificate, as defined by Apple identifies your team or organization in a distribution provisioning profile and allows you to submit your app to the store. Not anyone in the team can create an iOS distribution certificate, though. Only team agents and admin members have the authority to execute this task. Also, there are different types of iOS distribution certificates depending on the app’s desired distribution method.



  1. Only Apple can issue and authorize all types of signing certificates. But in order for any of these certificates to be of use, an intermediate certificate should be installed in the system keychain.
  2. A certificate signing request (CSR).


Requesting for an iOS distribution certificate:

  1. Sign in to Apple Developer Center.
  2. Under the “iOS Developer Program” select “Certificates, Identifiers & Profiles”.
  3. Under “iOS Apps” select “Certificates”
  4. On the next screen, click the “+” sign on the upper right hand side of the screen.
  5. Select the type of certificate you need. Under “Production”, select “App Store and Ad Hoc”.
  6. Scroll down and you will see a reminder about intermediate signing certificate. If you don’t already have one in your Keychain, click on the link. Click on the download button and double click the right file. The selected file will then appear in your Keychain Access window.
  7. You will then be prompted to create a CSR file. Follow the instructions in creating a CSR file and then return to “About Creating a Certificate Signing Request (CSR)” window and select “Continue”.
  8. In the next screen, upload the CSR file and then click the “Generate” button.
  9.  A message that reads, “Your certificate is ready” appears. All you need to do now is download, install and backup (optional) the iOS distribution certificate. Click on the “Download” button and save the file. Double click the downloaded file or drag it to the Keychain Access window.
  10. Click “Done.” The iOS distribution certificate is now ready for use.


You can also backup your certificates through the Keychain Access app.

  1. Under “Category”, select “Keys”.
  2. Highlight the private key associated with your iOS distribution certificate.
  3. Command-click and select “Export Items” on the dropdown menu.
  4. Save the private key using the Personal Information Exchange (.p12) file format.
  5. A prompt will then appear asking that you create a password to regulate access in case the key is imported to another computer.


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