Means of eID
In Estonia, the following means of electronic personal identification are valid: ID-cards, mobile-ID, digital ID, e-Resident’s digital ID, diplomatic ID, and residence cards.
These documents are issued by the Police and Border Guard Board ».
Estonia’s eID uses a so-called secure data carrier that consists of a chip with keys and certificates stored on it, ensuring secure operations. A certificate is an electronic document connected to a specific person that contains the person’s personal information and the key necessary for identifying the person.
As at July 2021, there are more than 1.4 million valid ID-cards in circulation in Estonia and almost 250 000 people have mobile-ID. Almost 60% of ID-card owners have used their card for electronic entry into an environment, i.e. authentication and/or provision of digital signature at least once per year.
Estonia’s digital signature carries equal weight with a handwritten signature (see the trust levels of electronic signatures) and public sector institutions must accept digitally signed documents.
One of the following means is necessary for the use of electronic identity:
ID-card is Estonia’s primary document that carries electronic identity, which is compulsory according to the law. It is the most widely used option. More information about the ID-card is available in the environment id.ee ».
Residence card is a similar compulsory document for foreigners who are not citizens of a Member State of the European Union.
More information about applying for an ID-card and residence card is available at the website of the Police and Border Guard Board ».
Mobile-ID is a personal identification and digital signing application for mobile phones. A mobile phone’s SIM card with a public and secret key connected to it functions as a document similar to the ID-card in electronic environments. You need to have an ID-card to apply for Mobile-ID. NB! Encryption is not possible with mobile-ID. More information about mobile-ID is available in the environment id.ee ».
Digital ID is designated for use in digital environments only. It is a necessary tool for people who use their electronic identity in their daily work or whose duties do not allow the use of an ID-card or mobile-ID: You also need to have an ID-card to apply for digital ID. Digital ID is also issued to e-residents for the use of e-services. More information about applying for digital ID is available at the website of the Police and Border Guard Board »
Authentication solutions offered by the private sector:
Smart-ID is an electronic identification service that uses the Smart-ID application on a person’s phone and the Smart-ID key management server service. Smart-ID can be issued to persons with an Estonian personal identification code. The Smart-ID service is provided by SK ID Solutions AS. Read more from the Smart-ID website.
The expert group assembled by the Information System Authority (RIA), comprising representatives of the Police and Border Guard Board, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, and RIA, found the assurance level of electronic identification of Smart-ID issued in Estonia to be ‘high’.
As the solution is provided to Estonian citizens, residents, as well as non-residents with an Estonian personal identification code, the expert group asks e-service providers to pay attention to the fact that differentiating between Estonian residents and non-residents is not possible when using Smart-ID for identification (as it would be with the e-resident certificate).
For more information, see the description of the assurance level of Smart-ID (417.3 KB, PDF) and the description of its operating procedure (3.51 MB, PDF).