The Estonian government has approved the concept of issuing digital IDs to non-residents, meaning from the end of 2014, foreigners will be able to receive a secure Estonian e-identity, forging a unique opportunity to create a new set of remotely usable global services.
According to Taavi Kotka, the Deputy Secretary General on ICT at the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs, the aim of the project “is to make Estonia great: make sure that at least 10 million people around the world choose to associate with Estonia via e-identities”.
“Estonian citizens are able to perform nearly every public and private sector transaction in digital form, including signing any document. Until now, this ability has not extended to foreigners who are permanent residents of countries other than Estonia,” Kotka said.
To include foreigners, on 24 April the Estonian government approved the concept of issuing digital IDs to non-residents. “This forms a basis for the growth of the international competitiveness of the Estonian state in the fields of economy, science, education, health care, etc,” according to Kotka.
“For example, the adoption of non-resident ID cards is an additional argument in favour of investing in Estonia. Today, it is difficult for a foreign investor to actively participate in the executive management of a company. The non-resident ID card and digital signature would provide the necessary flexibility.”
Kotka pointed out that in addition, reinvested profit is tax-free in Estonia, and the highly developed e-banking environment gives users immediate control of their assets from a distance. “This means that Estonia has the potential to be attractive to entrepreneurs who need an investment account and this would result in additional customers and capital for Estonian businesses.”
The primary target groups of the e-residence would be foreign investors and the foreign employees of their companies; foreign specialists and employees of Estonian companies, their foreign customers and partners; foreign scientists, educators and students; representatives of other countries and international institutions (e.g. the European IT Agency) in the Republic of Estonia; Estonian nationals and their heirs who have emigrated from Estonia, as well as the family members of the persons listed above.
By letting at least 10 million people around the world choose to associate with Estonia via e-identities, it also provides an additional security guarantee for the country – there would be more voices creating a global uproar in case of an aggression against Estonia.
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