I just received an email that my iOS Distribution Certificate is expiring. What do I do?

First of all, don’t panic. If your app is already for sale on the App Store, this email has no impact on that. Your app will remain up for sale even if your Distribution Certificate expires. It’s going to be OK.

It’s a scary email, but it won’t cause anything to break with your existing apps on the App Store.

What is the iOS Distribution Certificate for?

The purpose of the iOS Distribution Certificate is actually pretty narrow, it is just used for submitting a build of your app to Apple’s iTunes Connect system so that it can be reviewed and processed for sale on the App Store. The time it is needed is just for the submission and review of an app build by Apple. Once Apple approves the app, and it is made available for sale on the App Store, it doesn’t matter if your iOS Distribution Certificate has expired.

What do I need to do?

So while the email sounds extremely urgent, it only really impacts your ability to submit new builds of your app. Obviously this is important, but it does not change what is already on the App Store.

What needs to be done is to create a new iOS Distribution Certificate on the computer that you use to submit app builds. There are two options to create it: using Xcode, or using the Member Center web tool.

Xcode now has an automated way to do this that handles all the details for you.

  1. Open Xcode preferences, select the Accounts tab.
  2. In the left column, choose the Apple ID for the account that you would like to create an iOS Distribution certificate.
  3. In the right column, select the team for the account. (If your legal entity is a company instead of an individual, there might be more than one option. Choose the one with the “Agent” role.)
  4. Click the “View Details…” button.
  5. Under Signing Identities, there will be list of certificates you can create for that account and role.
  6. Click the “Create” button next to “iOS Distribution”.

If the Create button is grayed out, go back to steps 2 and 3 to make sure you have selected the appropriate account and role for the expired certificate.

If you prefer to do it manually, use the Member Center and follow the steps to create a Production App Store and Ad Hoc certificate.

  1. Go to the Apple Developer certificate management site: https://developer.apple.com/account/ios/certificate/ (You can also use this site to view and manage existing certificates.)
  2. Click the plus button on the top left.
  3. Under the Production section, choose “App Store and Ad Hoc”.
  4. Follow the instructions to use the Keychain Access app on your Mac to create a Certificate Signing Request and upload it to the site.

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