Starting from 2021, Estonian ID-cards also include the holder's fingerprint data in their chips. People who cannot visit a PPA service office to surrender their fingerprints can have the service come to them, while waiting times can stretch into months.
The European directive mandating the use of biometric data on ID-cards from 2021 was passed in 2019. Based on the EU legislation, fingerprint data is collected when a person turns 12.
However, the requirement to collect fingerprint data can lead to very long waiting times for documents in some cases. Writer Imbi Paju's parents have been without a valid identity cards for over a month as health problems are keeping them from surrendering their fingerprints at a Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) office. While the elderly couple's neighbor helped them take the photos necessary for their new IDs, the PPA official who was supposed to collect their biometric data has not found the time to visit them in two months.
Paju said that her parents are over 90 years of age, get vertigo and cannot venture far out of the house. She said that she phoned the PPA to ask what would happen in case of an emergency if a person does not have a valid ID only to be told that a dead person does not need one.
She added that while her parents should get the chance to provide their biometric data at home in the near future, it will be a while longer before their IDs are issued, as well as that the problem seems to be more widespread.
Angela Kahar, head of services for the PPA in Tartu, said that the waiting time for home fingerprinting can indeed be many months as officers are swamped. She said that PPA operatives have visited people's homes and nursing establishments for the purpose on a total of 640 occasions this year.
"There are a lot of people who need the service at home, nursing homes, while we only have a few officials authorized to do it. Service areas are large, county-based and the distances that need to be covered considerable, which is why it can take up to two months in some cases," Kahar said.
People should also take time to handle the fingerprinting at PPA offices. The average waiting time on location is 45 minutes. It is longest in Tartu where the average wait is over an hour. Kahar said that PPA offices prioritize issuing documents instead of registering new document applications. The agency's Tartu office has issued nearly 29,000 documents this year, which grows to 164,300 ID-cards nationwide.
"We offer an alternative way to apply for documents via our e-service, which is a fast and convenient way to get it done. There is no need to show up on location," Kahar said.
One way the PPA is lightening its workload is offering people the chance to get their ready documents at Selver supermarket information stands. Around 5,600 people have received their new ID at Selver stores this year, which trend is picking up momentum.
Editor: Marcus Turovski