How does Smart-ID benefit e-residents?

Smart-ID is a convenient and secure way to access banking and other services as an e-resident.


Necessity is the mother of invention, as the saying goes.

E-residents are currently updating the certificates on their digital ID cards, but the process is far from perfect and currently slower than any of us would like.

If you are a regular user of your digital ID card then you’ll understandably want your certificates updated as soon as possible because the current certificates are expected to close shortly and then you will be unable to use your digital ID card until it is updated. Authorities are working hard to improve the certificate update process as a high priority.

However, you actually have until the end of March 2018 to update the new certificates and e-residents can continue accessing many of the same benefits with a service (from the private sector) called Smart-ID — as long as you activate it now while your current certificates are open.

Smart-ID is a mobile app that was launched in 2016 by a company called SK ID Solutions , which is the Estonian government’s partner for issuing the certificates on different types of identity documents held by citizens, residents and e-residents.

You simply download the Smart-ID app to an Android or iOS phone and then you only need to authenticate yourself once using your digital ID card before you can access e-services such as banking.

Out of necessity, the popularity of Smart-ID is currently surging among e-residents. However, it can also be a convenient and secure long-term solution for more easily logging into many e-services.

Your digital ID card needs to have active certificates when you set up Smart-ID so if you are concerned about the time it is taking to update to the new certificates and you need uninterrupted access to banking then you are strongly advised to activate Smart-ID straight away.

I asked e-residents today for their thoughts on Smart-ID in the Estonian e-residents Facebook group and the response was overwhelmingly positive. You are welcome to join the group and talk directly to other e-residents about this and other topics.

At present, there are three popular services for e-residents that have already integrated Smart-ID:

  • LHV is an Estonian banking and financial services company that many e-residents use for their business banking*. They now recommend Smart-ID and say it can be used for transactions, signing agreements and activating new cards, among other things.
  • Swedbank is a Nordic-Baltic banking group based in Stockholm, Sweden with a significant presence in Estonia so also provide business banking to a number of e-residents. They have set up a special webpage here to explain the advantages of using Smart-ID as a Swedbank customer.
  • LeapIN is a business services provider that offers a turn-key solution for setting up a location-independent single-person company. You can now use Smart-ID to log into LeapIN’s self-service portal where their customers can issue invoices, upload expenses and get an overview of their company’s finances.

*As ever, please read carefully our advice for starting a company and accessing banking before booking any travel to Estonia for the purposes of opening a business account.

It is hoped that even more service for e-residents will be available with Smart-ID in future.

Please note that some service providers that also serve Estonian citizens and residents might refer to a similar service called Mobile-ID, but this is not currently available to e-residents.

Smart-ID is completely free and — just like using your digital ID card — you only need an internet connection so you can use it from anywhere in the world. Smart-ID works on top of e-Residency, rather than as a replacement, because you still need an active digital ID card for setting it up. Also, it’s important to note that Smart-ID does not currently enable authentication for state services, such as registering a company or filing taxes, and does not enable you to digitally sign documents in the ID card utility software.

I’m going to activate my own Smart-ID now, but we’d like to hear more about your feedback too so leave us a comment below.

Read more about Smart-ID at Smart-ID.com or download the app now below for your Android or iOS phone:

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