PPA's foreign partner breaches Estonian e-residency card issuing procedures

Estonian e-Residency card in a laptop.
Estonian e-Residency card in a laptop. Source: Brand Estonia

In addition to foreign representations, Estonian e-residents in recent years also had the opportunity to pick up their e-Residency documents via a third-party service provider in five major cities worldwide. After the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) recently identified two violations of its issuing procedures, however, e-residency cards will once again only be available for pickup from Estonia's foreign representations.

E-Residency documents are typically only issued by Estonia's foreign representations, but starting in 2021, the state began issuing e-Residency cards in Tokyo, Bangkok, Singapore, Sao Paulo and Johannesburg via a third-party partner, BLS International Services Limited, as well.

This May, however, the PPA identified an infringement in Bangkok, where an individual unauthorized by the PPA issued documents to an e-resident. The same breach of procedures has occurred at BLS' issuing location in Tokyo as well.

Both the Ministry of the Interior and the PPA believe that these infringements were significant enough to warrant terminating their contract with BLS. According to the PPA, BLS in turn has launched its own disciplinary proceedings regarding the employees involved in the infringements.

Over two years, some 1,300 digital e-Residency ID cards have been issued to Estonian e-residents via BLS. The PPA has continuously monitored that these documents are being issued to the correct individuals, due to which previously issued ID cards will remain valid.

Everyone who had ordered their e-Residency cards for pickup via the third-party service provider but had not yet gotten the chance to go pick them up has been contacted directly by the PPA, informed of the situation and given the opportunity to redirect their ID card to an Estonian representation abroad.

PPA e-Residency expert Anita Sokolova explained that the digital ID issued to Estonian e-residents is an identity document, and thus in order to ensure its integrity, the PPA must ensure that the entire document issuing process is trustworthy.

"As a result of monitoring, we identified issues at two issuing locations, which is sufficiently large infringement to justify terminating cooperation with our contracting partner," Sokolova said. "Thus concludes the issuing of documents at all five of our partner's issuing locations, which will resume exclusively at Estonia's foreign representations."

The official noted that the PPA is working together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Enterprise Estonia to find a solution for issuing documents in locations where Estonian foreign representations don't currently exist in order to ensure e-residents with convenient opportunities to pick up their e-Residency ID cards.

"We don't currently plan on looking for a new contract partner from the private sector," she added.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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