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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.

ID-card

Estonia has by far the most highly-developed national ID-card system in the world. Much more than just a legal photo ID, the mandatory national card also provides digital access to all of Estonia’s secure e-services.

The chip on the card carries embedded files, and using 384-bit ECC public key encryption, it can be used as definitive proof of ID in an electronic environment.

  • for digital signatures
  • for i-Voting
  • to check medical records, submit tax claims, etc.
  • to use e-Prescriptions

To learn more about the ID-card, visit its webpage.
Find out, what are the costs on signing contracts in your organisation

99%

of Estonian residents have ID card

800M

Digital signatures given so far

5

Days per year saved with digital signature

Here are some examples of how it is regularly used in Estonia:

  • as a legal travel ID for Estonian citizens travelling within the EU
  • as a national health insurance card
  • as proof of identification when logging into bank accounts
  • for digital signatures
  • for i-Voting
  • to check medical records, submit tax claims, etc.
  • to use the e-Prescription service

Developers of e-Identity:

 

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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