E-residency: non-residents to access Estonian e-services

Estonia: As of 1 December 2014 non-residents can apply for an Estonian Digi-ID card and access Estonian e-services.

As the first state in the world Estonia has on 1 December 2014 started to issue digital ID-cards to non-residents. This allows them to access Estonian e-services. Digi-ID will attract new companies and clients to Estonia. It will simplify the administration of companies with foreign participation as well as the communication between Estonian companies and their foreign cooperation partners. The biggest advantage of Digi-ID is that everything can be done via the internet and without the need to be physically present.

With Digi-ID following Estonian e-services can be used: personal identification (e. g. at internet banks), digital signing of documents, company registration, filing documents with the commercial register, tax declarations and exchange encrypted documents with other ID-card holders. The digital signature of an e-resident is legally valid in all EU member states.

The Digi-ID target group at the moment is foreign entrepreneurs who own or plan to start a company in Estonia. Additionally, Digi-ID is also meant for persons who are residing in Estonia with a business or study visa, for diplomats, for Estonians living abroad and for people who are simply interested in e-society. To apply for a Digi-ID, a non-resident must go in person to a police office and fill out an application form.

To apply, a non-resident needs to present a physical identification document from their native country, a photo, give fingerprints and pay a state fee of 50 euros. Within the next 10 days a background check will be carried out and if the result is positive, the applicant will be able to pick up the card. In the future it will also be possible to apply for Digi-ID through Estonian embassies and consular offices.

Unlike the normal ID-card, the Digi-ID gives no rights in the physical world. For example, it cannot be used as an identification document, since the card contains no photo or signature. It also cannot be used to open a bank account. Data security is very important to Estonia, Therefore processes are optimized in a way that the security of personal data is ensured and the possibility to misuse the status of an e-resident eliminated.

Digi-ID is valid for three years. All operations made with Digi-ID leave a mark and in case of any kind of misuse the Digi-ID may be closed.

Source: Identity Documents Act (RT I, 29.10.2014, 1)


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