Since the launch of the national eID card ten years ago (28 January 2002), around 1.6 million cards have been issued, and citizens have well integrated their use into their daily lives.
The Estonian Police and Border Guard Board's service centre director Ms Tatjana Portnova said that people have been showing increasing interest in the use of the eID card: "Over the last years, the number of people who use the card on a daily basis has multiplied (...)" She added that "Hotline callers often ask for advice on the use of the eID document, especially before the elections and for the filing of tax returns, and this is currently the case for instance with the ongoing census."
"ID cards hold the electronic signature of a person and they are an access key to eServices. Using the electronic features of the ID card opens up many opportunities (...)"explained Ms Kalle Arula, the Deputy Director of the Estonian Information System's Authority. She stressed, however, that electronic signature must be handled with the same level of care as handwritten signature: "It should be remembered that the card is safe provided that it is used safely."
AS Sertifitseerimiskeskus is the certification authority that issues the eID card, among other national identity documents such as the residence card and the mobile ID. It has also created the basic software needed for using the card and developed the DigiDoc software, which provides the following services: digital signature, eSignature validity verification, and data encryption. The head of AS Sertifitseerimiskeskus, Mr Kalev Pihli said that the eID card has been a success, both in Estonia and abroad: "While the success did not come easy, the benefits of the ID cards are real today."
At the beginning of 2012, there were 1.2 million holders of a valid eID card. Of these, 85 % are Estonian citizens and 15 % are foreigners. Over the past ten years, a total of 72.6 million documents were signed by means of digital signatures, used by at least half of the eID card holders.
The first 174 eID cards were inaugurated on 28 January 2002 at the Sakala Centre in Tallinn, in the presence of the then President of the Republic, Mr Arnold Rüütel.