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Document Exchange Layer DHX

The document exchange layer DHX is a document exchange protocol that enables the safe exchange of documents and information between the document management system of the public sector and other information systems.

DHX relies on the X-Road version 6 as a transport-level infrastructure.

The automatic document exchange in the Estonian public sector began in 2006. Due to unsatisfactory internet connection, it was difficult to send documents from one document management system to another. This why the state decided to create a central solution – the document exchange centre, where documents would be temporarily stored in such situations. The document exchange centre was used by all ministries and agencies in their area of government, county governments, agencies, and inspectorates, but also most of the local governments, educational establishments, and other institutions of the public sector. In 2009, the European Consortium for Electronic State Awards announced the document exchange centre as a good service and strategic initiative practice.

A transition to a new means of document exchange began in 2017, and by the beginning of 2019, a new distributed solution for document exchange, or a document exchange layer DHX, was implemented. This enables documents to be transported between agencies directly from sender to receiver. The initial document exchange centre was closed by the end of 2018.

A laptop on the pile of papers.

The development of both the initial document exchange centre and the new distributed solution of document exchange is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.


What is a DHX protocol?

DHX is a standardised technical and organisational solution which enables institutions to exchange documents based on a distributed principle. Documents move directly from sender to receiver, and document management systems (DMS) need not request documents from the document exchange centre.


  • is intended for the safe and cost-efficient organisation of the public sector’s document exchange;
  • is based on X-Road version 6.0;
  • uses a standardised message format (metadata transported with the document, a so-called ‘capsule’ version 2.1).

The target group of DHX is mainly the public sector institutions.

The owner of the protocol is the Information System Authority (RIA), who coordinates the future development of the protocol.

Last modified: 26.07.2021

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