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Data exchange between Estonian and Finnish population registries moving to X-Road

28. September 2020 - 13:46

Data exchange between the Estonian and Finnish population registries was partly transferred to the X-Road platform. Until now, data have been transmitted as files. Data exchange between the population registers takes place automatically once a week and ensures the correctness of data in both registers.

Minister of Population Riina Solman emphasised the importance of data exchange between the countries. “Estonia and Finland have been regularly exchanging place of residence data since 2005. Until now, this has been done with files. The former system was considerably more work-intensive and time-consuming than the new automatic X-Road solution. Constant development keeps the population registry data correct and up to date. Furthermore, the exchange of place of residence data between the countries saves people’s time, as they do not have to submit a separate application to change their place of residence,” Solman said.

“Service portal allows for an improved use of official information also in the case of cross-border services, which is a future trend,” Head of the Services Division and Deputy Director General of the Digital and Population Data Services Agency Timo Salovaara admitted. “The Nordic and Baltic countries are pioneers in the digitalisation of the government and in the related cooperation. By continuing and deepening that cooperation, we can offer people moving between our countries ever more functional e-services which fit different life situations,” Salovaara noted.

Head of the Population Services Department at the IT and Development Centre of the Ministry of the Interior Jaan Kask admitted that the biggest challenge lay in discarding human creativity and way of thinking and setting up a machine to make the correct decisions on the basis of predefined rules. “We are glad that Finland adopted the X-Road data exchange protocol which has been developed in Estonia and has already proven its functionality,” Kask said, thanking everyone who helped develop automatic communication between the countries.

Nearly 53,000 Estonian citizens permanently reside in Finland and their change of place of residence in Finland was so far not recorded in the Estonian Population Register via the former data exchange. In the created solution, Finland sends information about a person registering a place of residence or an additional address in Finland to the Estonian Population Register. On the basis of the received information, the data of that person will thereafter be enquired automatically via the X-Road service and, if necessary, updated in the Estonian Population Register. The existence and correctness of the data of Estonian citizens who live abroad in the Estonian Population Register is important for the state to contact its citizens, if necessary.

Estonia and Finland concluded an agreement for the exchange of population registry data in 2005. The existing agreement regulates the exchange, processing and protection of data. The agreement stipulates a list of data which the registers mutually exchange. The currently applicable agreement only regulates the place of residence data of the citizens of each country and does not prescribe the exchange of data related to vital statistics. However, a new data exchange agreement is being prepared, which will replace the previous one and expand the composition of data to be exchanged.

The Minister of Population is responsible for population and family policy, the promotion of global Estonianness, the coordination of population procedures, the adaptation of new immigrants, and the development of religious matters and the civil society. The Minister of Population works towards the sustainability and development of the people. Riina Solman has been the Minister of Population since 29 April 2019.