Estonia will soon become the first country to offer e-residency

People from all over the world will have an opportunity to get a digital identity provided by the Estonian government – in order to get secure access to world-leading digital services from wherever you might be.
What is e-residency?
An e-resident will be a physical person who has received the e-resident’s digital identity (smart ID-card) from the Republic of Estonia. This will not entail full legal residency or citizenship or right of entry to Estonia.
Instead, e-residency gives secure access to Estonia’s digital services and an opportunity to give digital signatures in an electronic environment. Such digital identification and signing is legally fully equal to face-to-face identification and handwritten signatures in the European Union.
The card is not a physical ID-card or even a travel document because it has no photo on it, but it does have a microchip with security certificates. These enable the card to be used with a small piece of software installed and a reader attached via USB to a computer. It works on two-factor authentication. To get access to a service or sign digitally, you need to enter secure PINs which only you will know.
Why should I want it?
As an e-resident you can use and enjoy the same great digital services that allow Estonians to do anything and everything digitally – sign all documents, launch and manage companies, do the banking, encrypt files, etc. For a closer look on how the digital way of life goes in Estonia: http://e-estonia.com/.
It is especially useful for entrepreneurs and others who already have some relationship to Estonia: who do business, work, study or visit here but have not become a resident. However, e-residency is also launched as a platform to offer digital services to a global audience with no prior Estonian affiliation – for anybody who wants to run their business and life in the most convenient aka digital way! We plan to keep adding new useful services from early 2015 onwards.
With e-residency, you can become part of the digital society revolution taking place in our dynamic Northern European country. You can become an e-Estonian!
How can I get it?
  • We will start issuing the cards by the end of 2014.
  • To apply for one, you need to make visit a Police and Border Guard office in Estonia – there you need to submit an application and provide biometrical data (your facial image and fingerprints) for background check.
  • The decision will be made in max. 2 weeks and if all is OK, the card will be issued to the applicant in-person at the Police and Border Guard office.
  • The one-time state fee for the card is 50 euros, other fees will depend on service providers – public digital services will be offered mostly free-of-charge, just like to ‘real’ residents.
  • We are working to add capacity to our embassies to process e-residency applications and issue cards abroad by the end of 2015 – so that you would not necessarily need to travel to Estonia to join us as an e-resident.
You can sign up here to be the first to know once we go live and you can start applying: http://e-estonia.com/e-residents.
More information
Siim Sikkut
ICT Policy Adviser at Government Office of Estonia