The Republic of Estonia grants a digital identity to each of its citizens, residents and e-residents. It is important to understand that the same digital identity (and digital identity code) will remain with you for life, even if you transition from a resident to an e-resident.
Many non-Estonians living temporarily in Estonia find that e-Residency is valuable for retaining their connection to the country after they move away so they transition from resident to e-resident in order to keep access to their digital identity.
E-Residency is not only valuable for people who wish to do business with Estonia from abroad but has a wide range of uses such as retaining the ability to digitally sign documents with your digital ID.
Below I will describe the procedures for making that transition.
An e-Residency digital ID card can only be issued to non-residents. Your residence permit or right of residence needs to be expired before you can submit an application for the e-Residency digital ID card. This means that in general, for 3-8 weeks you would be without a digital ID card and will not be able to access the Estonian e-services or sign documents digitally.
If it is essential for you to keep access to e-services during these 3-8 weeks that it takes to apply for the e-Residency digital ID card, then before giving up your right to residency or before your temporary residency permit expires, you can apply for a digital ID card.
Essentially a digital ID card and e-Residency digital ID card are the same, only difference being the first is issued to a resident of Estonia and the second is issued to a non-resident. As they are the same document, your digital ID card will be made invalid, once you receive your e-Residency digital ID card.
EU citizens who have lived or are currently living in Estonia
You acquired the right of residence in Estonia by registering your place of residence in Estonia. Your temporary right of residence expires when you no longer have a registered residence in Estonia. For this, you will need to submit a notice of residence to the Population Registry. All Estonian residents have a duty to ensure that their residence data listed in the population register is correct.
More information on this process can be found in the State Portal. As long as you have a valid digital ID card, you will be able to notify the population registry online.
If you once had a right of residency in Estonia but you did not notify the Population Registry, it is possible that you still hold a right of residence in Estonia and thus are not eligible to apply for an e-Residency digital ID card. To ensure that your e-Residency application goes smoothly:
- Contact the Population Register at email@example.com to inquire, if you still have a place of residence registered in Estonia and if yes, then in which municipality it is (in case you don’t remember).
- Send a notice of residence to the city or rural municipality government governing your place of residence. Find more information about it here and information on residence procedures here.
- Local government will update the information in the population register within 10 working days.
- You can now submit an application for an e-Residency digital ID.