I truly believe that all public service processes should be accessible and easy to use for every single citizen. That is why Estonia, being digital by default, has successfully shifted 99 % of public state services online. Furthermore, by today almost 92% of the population use the internet regularly and 90 % of households have a broadband connection. Therefore, communication with the state and getting all things done via e-services without having to make visits to any institution has become a part of everyday-life. Let’s look at what are some of the e-services citizens use the most.
No queue when renewing a driving licence
Some of the most commonly used e-services are related to the Estonian Road Administration. There are two main services on there that citizens use. First, as our driving licences are issued for a period of 10 years, we are obliged to exchange them after this period. However, there is no need to actually visit any institutions. You can log into the Road Administration, check the validity of your licence, apply for a new one and make sure all the documents are in order. For example, we always need to have a valid health declaration in order to be able to renew the licence. If you recently visited a doctor for a health check, then the documents are easily accessible from the Patient Portal and you wouldn’t even need to see a doctor. Information is collected and then exchanged through the X-Road data exchange layer. We also have to cover the principle of once-only here: government information systems can only make a citizen submit information once.
The renewal process itself takes a maximum of five minutes and the new licence will be delivered within a week or two. Regarding state fees, it is cheaper to get a new licence online. An application submitted via the Road Administration office is 26 €, while the e-service sets you back by only 20 €. Wonderful, isn’t it? Looks like a lot of Estonians agree as by the beginning of 2017 the number of people having used this service had risen to 638 000.
Buying a car
The second most popular e-service is also accessible via the Road Administration platform. In 2017, there were 143 320 people who registered themselves as owners of a new car. Every vehicle in traffic has to be registered within five business days after being put into use in Estonia. The vehicle registering process would start after the technical compliance inspection has been completed. Again, the data will be received from different institutions and the new owner can easily fill in the remaining information. By the way, you can immediately start driving your newly purchased car and should you be stopped by the police on your way, they’ll already see the new owner in the registry.
Supporting job seekers
The third very widely used e-service had been used by 40 000 as of 2017 and that is the registration of unemployment / job-seeker status. After the termination of an employment contract we can easily apply for the job-seeker’s benefit and start actively looking for a new job. Estonia also uses artificial intelligence solutions in order to help people find a new job by matching job seekers with potential employers. As soon as a new job offer has been submitted to the system, the AI will search for candidates with the most suitable skills and rank them. The latest unemployment figures in Estonia have proven to remain very low at 4.3 %.
Why do it all online?
These were just three small examples of Estonian e-services that make our lives easier while saving time, money and energy. The digital signature of the Estonian electronic ID alone helps us save around five working days per year. Imagine how many more days we have saved thanks to 99 % of our services being available online location-independently and 24/7.
Speaker at e-Estonia Briefing Centre