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A new digital solution makes a way for foreigners to utilize e-Estonia

12. June 2014 - 19:43

Yesterday evening at a cabinet meeting, the Government of the Republic approved an e-resident digi-ID concept that was compiled by the Ministry of the Interior, in order to take the next step in creating more effective ways to involve foreign entrepreneurs, investors and specialists in Estonia's development, economy and scientific efforts.

An e-resident is a foreigner, to whom Estonia issues digital credentials on the basis of his own identification from his country of citizenship.  With a digi-ID, a foreign national can access Estonia's e-environment from outside the country. The Minister of the Interior, Hanno Pevkur, says that this new solution will allow foreigners to tend to business in Estonia no matter where they are, thereby making activity in the areas of international economy, science and education more flexible and effective.

"For the foreigners and foreign enterprises dealing in and with Estonia, digi-ID will increase the attractiveness of this friendly environment for living or temporary stay," said Pevkur. "Adopting the use of e-residence will expand a business' opportunities to offer their digital services in Estonia as well as the international market through an additional client base. It will also promote the growth of vital enterprises and their activity into Estonia's economic environment, helping to bring investment, create jobs and add value. For example this allows the digital signing of documents, avoiding troublesome and time-consuming paperwork."

An e-resident’s digi-ID is also a suitable means for keeping contact with ex-pat Estonians and to create access to digital services and information, regardless of their state of residence or citizenship.

"But it must also be kept in mind that an e-resident's digi-ID is a benefit, not a right. The state issues it for use in good faith and for legal purposes and also keeps track of its use," stated Pevkur, adding that if the requisite amendments to the law can be adopted by the Parliament by fall, then the Ministry of the Interior would be ready to issue the first digi-IDs before the end of the year.

Establishing and confirming an e-resident's identity will be based on biometric data, which will prevent the creation or use of multiple identities for one person. To prevent and preempt abuse, a thorough check, analogous to one needed for a visa, will be conducted, in order to determine a person's trustworthiness.

The primary target group for e-residency is people who are involved with Estonia through business, work, study or origin. These people need digital credentials to interact with Estonia's public-legal or private-legal e-transactions if they are not Estonian citizens or foreigners living in Estonia on the basis of right of residence or a residence permit. According to the estimate of the Ministry of the Interior, this group could be 50,000 strong.
Another possible target group would be people who have emigrated from Estonia and their descendants, who are not Estonian citizens, perhaps about 130,000 people. In addition, e-residents can also be those who wish in good faith to legally use Estonia's digital services, but who are not directly connected to Estonia through work or business.

Lennart Komp 
Press Advisor 
Communication Department
Ministry of the Interior 
Tel. 6125033; Mobile. 56266964

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