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e-Identity

All Estonians, no matter where they happen to live, have a state-issued digital identity. This electronic identity system, called e-ID, has existed over 20 years and is the cornerstone of the country’s e-state. e-ID and the ecosystem around it is part of any citizen’s daily transactions in the public and private sectors. This electronic identity, or e-ID, represents a significant technological advancement, placing Estonia years ahead of other nations still grappling with the concept of authentication without physical presence. People use their e-Identities to pay bills, vote online, sign contracts, shop, access their health information, and much more.

The convenience and security offered by Estonia’s e-ID come through various mediums: the ID-card, Mobile-ID on smartphones, or the Smart-ID application. Importantly, since 2014, Estonia has expanded its digital inclusivity by offering e-Residency. This program allows global citizens to access Estonia’s digital services and participate in its digital economy, irrespective of their physical location or citizenship.

This initiative reflects Estonia’s commitment to creating a seamless digital environment, one where digital wallets and electronic identities are commonplace. Such tools not only streamline everyday tasks but also enhance the efficiency of public administration. For instance, the digital signature, a notable application of the e-ID, is estimated to save each Estonian roughly five workdays annually.

Furthermore, Estonia’s leadership in digital identity solutions has influenced broader European policies. The eIDAS directive, which Estonia has helped shape, aims to ensure that all European citizens can utilise electronic identities and digital signatures equivalent to their handwritten counterparts. Discussions during the eIDAS 2 regulation development highlighted Estonia’s forward-thinking approach, advocating for a digital Europe where electronic identities are universally recognised and utilised.

One of the most exciting developments in digital identity technology is the introduction of the identity wallet. This application allows for secure identification, digital signing, and storage of documents on mobile devices. For Estonians, the adoption of such a wallet would enhance the existing e-ID systems, making digital interactions even more seamless. However, in other European countries, the concept of a digital wallet is still gaining traction, often starting with functionalities like digital driver’s licenses before expanding to more comprehensive uses.

The identity wallet raises significant security discussions. Estonia, renowned for its cybersecurity solutions, contributes innovative technologies to address these concerns. For example, Estonia has developed split-key technology, which offers an alternative to traditional mobile security solutions, which may not always align with European standards for certification.

The shift towards digital wallets and electronic identities is not merely a technological upgrade but a fundamental change in how societies perceive and manage identity. Legal frameworks, cultural attitudes, and technological readiness all play critical roles in this transformation. As Europe moves towards greater interoperability, Estonia continues to share its experiences and insights, advocating for a unified approach to digital identity.

This evolution is further supported by specific initiatives like Potential, a consortium focused on developing interoperable solutions for driver’s licenses across Europe. Such collaborative efforts not only enhance technical capabilities but also encourage legal and administrative alignment, crucial for the widespread adoption of digital identities.

In conclusion, Estonia’s e-ID system is more than a technological marvel; it is a testament to the country’s visionary approach to digital governance. By integrating digital identities into the daily lives of its citizens, Estonia not only enhances the efficiency and security of transactions but also sets a standard for digital integration that other countries aspire to achieve. As Europe moves forward, the experiences and systems developed by Estonia will undoubtedly play a crucial role in shaping the digital identities of the future, making digital interactions more secure, efficient, and inclusive.

e-Residency

In 2014, Estonia was the first country in the world that launched its e-Residency program to fulfill its ambition of creating a borderless digital society for global citizens.

The program provides holders of e-Residency with a transnational digital identity. This identity allows them access to a platform built on inclusion, legitimacy, and transparency.  E-residents also have access to the European Union business environment and can use Estonian public e-services.

People from across the globe choose to become e-residents to start and run a trustworthy, location-independent EU company online with all the tools needed to conduct business worldwide, entirely online. 

To find out more and apply for the e-Residency, visit their website: https://www.e-resident.gov.ee/

What can you do with e-Residency?

 

  • Set up and manage a location-independent company online from anywhere in the world
  • Establish a trusted EU company online in one day
  • Manage the resulting company fully online
  • Apply for a business bank account and conduct secure e-banking
  • Access international payment service providers (Paypal, Braintree, etc.)
  • Digitally sign and transmit documents
  • Declare Estonian taxes online

29,000+

e-resident companies

109,000+

e-residents

Why open a company in Estonia?

  • Join one of the most advanced digital societies
  • Membership of the EU, NATO, OECD, and eurozone provides advantages and stability
  • Low startup and maintenance costs
  • Growth is incentivized with 0% corporate tax on reinvested profits
  • Minimal bureaucracy and a clear tax framework
  • Minimal corruption in a transparent business environment
  • Trade in euros to mitigate the risk of currency fluctuations

E-residents receive a digital ID-card with two PIN numbers for secure digital authentication and digital signatures. Secure digital signatures are legally equivalent to a handwritten signature and face-to-face identification in Estonia, as well as between partners upon agreement anywhere around the world.

e-Residency is Estonia’s gift to the world – the opportunity for anyone, anywhere to succeed as an entrepreneur.

To learn more, visit the  e-Residency webpage.

Contact

Visit us physically or virtually

We host impactful events both in our centre and online for government institutions, companies, and media. You’ll get an overview of e-Estonia’s best practices and build links to leading IT-service providers and state experts to support your digitalisation plans.

Questions? Have a chat with us.

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Call us: +372 6273157 (business hours only)

Find us

The Briefing Centre is conveniently located just 2 minutes drive from the airport and 10 to 15 minutes drive from the city centre.

You will find us on a ground floor of Valukoja 8, central entrance behind the statue of Mr Ernst Julius Öpik. Photo of the central entrance.

Valukoja 8
11415 Tallinn, Estonia