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Applying for and issuing identification documents abroad becomes easier

1. August 2019 - 14:58

Today, following a proposal by Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu, the cabinet approved objectives on how to improve the accessibility of consular services for Estonians living abroad. Within the framework of these objectives, the processing of identity documents in foreign representations will be significantly simplified by the introduction of an electronic application environment and the streamlining of the system of delivering passports by mail.

“Currently, applying for identification documents is inconvenient, expensive and time-consuming for Estonians living abroad because they have to go to the representation in person both for applying for the document as well as receiving it,” Reinsalu said, explaining the background of his proposal. “Within a few years, the citizen should be able to contact the state only once: applying for documents should take place in an electronic environment and the documents, once ready, should be delivered by a courier, if a secure courier service can be ensured,” the Foreign Minister said.

“As a small country, Estonia only has a limited network of foreign representations and citizens must often travel long and expensive distances to apply for documents,” Reinsalu noted. He named Estonians living in Argentina as an example: for them, the closest Estonian foreign representation is located a ten-hour plane ride away in New York City. “Also, citizens must later return to the foreign representation or the closest honorary consul to receive the passport, which is another expense and takes up additional time,” the Foreign Minister said. According to the proposal approved by the cabinet, in the near future the Police and Border Guard Board will be able to issue passports directly through mail, while it will still be possible to send the document through a foreign representation or an honorary consul.

According to Reinsalu, the current system is also economically ineffective. “Today, in both the foreign representations as well as the Police and Border Guard Board, we are spending proportionally more resources on paper forms, and forwarding and processing identity documents than we are receiving through state fees,” he explained, adding that the absence of an e-environment is at odds with Estonia’s image as a digital state.

In addition to identity documents, the proposal also involves the issuing of e-residence cards, which also requires going to a foreign representation in most cases. The plans seek to increase the number of issuance points of external service providers who would issue both e-residency cards as well as identity cards for Estonian citizens.

The new solutions would be applied by 2022 or earlier, should the budgetary resources allow it.

Additional information:

Kaisa Hanna Parel
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia
Communication Department
kaisahanna.parel@mfa.ee
+372 637 7618 / +372 53323045

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