Get to know a Wildcard SSL Certificate & Multi Domain (SAN) SSL

One of the most asked questions is probably the difference between Multi-Domain (SAN) SSL and Wildcard SSL Certificate. Those who are new to these certificates may find the specifics a bit more challenging. Some even perceive them to be the same certificates although they are not.

Wildcard SSL Certificates provide a highly versatile encryption option for organization that happens to have sub-domains accompanying its main domain. It can secure multiple sub-domains under a single SSL certificate but not on different primary domains.

Multi-Domain (SAN/UCC) SSL Certificate allows users to secure multiple Fully Qualified Domain Names (FQDN) as well as subdomains under a single certificate.

Differences between both certificates

Wildcard SSl Certificates Multi Domain (SAN) SSL Certificates
secure multiple sub-domains only secure multiple primary domains as well as multiple sub-domains.
Single certificate can secures unlimited sub-domains The number of domains that can be secured using Multi-Domain (SAN) SSL Certificate depends on the certificate authority. The maximum number of domains you can secure using a single SSL is 250.
It only comes with domain validation (DV) and organization validation(OV). It comes with all validation types: domain validation (DV), organization validation(OV) and Extended Validation (EV).
You will not be able to use a SAN domain when using a wildcard certificate. The Multi-Domain SSL option allows the user to secure a wildcard domain
What is also interesting is that you don’t have to reissue the SSL certificate when adding a new subdomain. Unlike Wildcard SSL, SAN requires the website owner to define the domains and subdomains when the certificate is being issued. If one wants to add a domain or subdomain at a later time, the certificate needs to be reissued.



Wildcard SSL certificates can secure an unlimited amount of sub-domains at only one specific sub-domain level. If you need unlimited sub-domain coverage at multiple levels for example * and *, you will need to purchase an additional certificate.

Multi-Domain SSL certificates can secure multiple domains up to a specific amount with charges on additional domains, depending on the issuing Certificate Authority.

Which one should I choose?

You should select a Wildcard Certificate if you have 5 or more sub-domains and you intend to add more in the future. What validation type to select? Domain or Organization? This is depends on how much online trust you wish to display to your visitors. Go for organization validation if your website is a genuine business and engages in E-commerce

If you have multiple unique Fully Qualified Domain Names (FQDN), you should select a Multi Domain Certificate. It is highly recommended you select Organization or Extended Validated Multi-Domain Certificates (with green address bar) if you are running a reputable online business. Multi Domain Certificate is most preferred when one has to secure a server that goes by multiple names. this certificate provides security for the various primary domains and the domains are listed under it. This is ideal for a big organization.