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Estonia Opens Up Its Borders To New Digital Citizens

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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“E-Residency” card will allow anyone access to services such as online banking and healthcare

Estonia has become the first nation in the world to offer an “e-residency” permit, allowing people from outside the country to benefit from its online resources.

The new “e-Estonian” citizens will be able to access “world-leading digital services” including online banking, education, and healthcare, according to the country’s government.

The new identity, confirmed through the issuing of Smart ID cards embedded with a microchip containing security certificates, is open to anyone and will begin towards the end of the year.

However, the permit will not entail the holder full legal residency or citizenship or right of entry to Estonia, and users will need to enter a registered PIN in order to use the services, which can also be protected through two-factor authentication.

ID cards ©shutterstock/chuckstockPermits

Potential applicants will have to travel to Estonia to apply for e-residency, with the process then requiring a visit to a Police and Border Guard office in order  to submit an application and provide biometrical data (facial image and fingerprints), for background checks, as well as handing over 50 Euros.

Decisions can take up two weeks, with successful candidates then needing to go back to the Police or Border Guard office to pick up your card. However, the country is also working to add the ability to process e-residency applications to its embassies, meaning it would be able to issue cards overseas by the end of next year.

“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,” a site explaining the new initiative said.

The Baltic state is widely regarded as one of the most technologically advanced in the world, being the home of several famous technology companies such as Skype and Kazaa. Last month, the country’s former Prime Minister, Andrus Ansip, was announced as one of the new heads of the European Commision’s Digital Agenda, alongside centre-right German politician Günther Oettinger.

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